The heart of the festivals: A walk down the Royal Mile

By Dan James, Festivals Edinburgh Blogger in Residence, August 2018

Dan headshot 300x300One of the most exciting, buzzing and entertaining parts of Edinburgh in August is the Royal Mile, the road which links Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The famous old street is home to some of the city's top attractions all year round, and in August it is completely transformed into a hub of festival activity.

Here is everything you can expect to find on one of the city's most historic routes during August.

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Street Performers

Did you know each morning the street performers pull lots to decide who will be performing where on the Royal Mile?

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With singers, magicians, acrobats, show snippets and a whole host more, the performers on the Royal Mile play on the cobbles, on the specially-built stages and in every little side-corner going, drawing in the crowds and filling the street with energy.

While the Street Performers are free to watch, tips are appreciated - and even if you don't have any cash, the introduction of contactless card machines this year makes showing your appreciation even easier.

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Accessible Viewing Areas

Accessible Viewing Areas are clearly marked on the Royal Mile both by signs and also the blue matted areas which are either raised or directly in front of the stage or performance areas.

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Flyering

The Royal Mile is one of the key flyering areas in the city, and you'll find layers and layers of posters advertising shows on the bollards down the Royal Mile.

Expect to see plenty of cast members from the shows out in costume trying to lure you into their performance at the Fringe, usually sharing little snippets of their show while telling you all about it. I suggest taking photos of the flyers that interest you so you don't end up being weighed down with lots of paper to carry - this also reduces the number of wasted flyers.

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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The stunning Edinburgh Castle is the backdrop to the Tattoo, and on the Royal Mile you can spot the bands and performers arriving and departing from the show. This is great if you haven't been lucky enough to snag a ticket to this spectacle. Even in the daytime with no performance on, taking a stroll to the top of the Royal Mile allows you the chance to marvel at the impressive seating that is set up in front of the courtyard and castle

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The Hub, home to the International Festival

The Hub is just downhill from the castle and is home to the Edinburgh International Festival. Have a peek inside at the beautiful decoration of the repurposed church or buy your tickets/enjoy a cuppa in the cafe, a little bit of respite from the buzz out on the Mile.

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Festival Offices and Ticket Shops

Many of the main festivals' offices can be found on or nearby The Royal Mile, and the Fringe has its main ticket shop right here, just look for the bright blue building halfway just down from St Giles Cathedral, or head to the back for the 'Friends of the Fringe' VIP ticket booth.

The French Institute off West Parliament Square is the new home to Edinburgh Art Festival and inside you can pick up programmes, visit the Bistro or ask the team for tips on what to attend at the Festival.

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The grand architecture of the City Chambers courtyard also plays host to some special performances in front of the city offices, including extracts from the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo amongst other things.

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Little alleys with hidden gems

Small alleyways or 'closes' lead off the Royal Mile, and while most of these offer great photo opportunities, they can often also lead to some of the hidden gems of the festival.

For example, Trinity Apse, a reconstructed church, lies down one such alleyway and is a venue for Edinburgh Art Festival while Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden, another Art Festival venue is down a staircase close to The Hub.

The Royal Mile might be one of the most hectic points in the city but all for a good reason. If you are looking for a lively spot to kick off your visit then this is a great first port of call to get right into the spirit of the Edinburgh Festivals!

Check out Dan's Edinburgh Adventures during August 2018, and follow along using #DansFestivalCity on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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