What's On in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival transforms the city from quiet and quaint to loud and busy, having sold more than 2 million tickets across more 50 thousand performances in 2015. One man who knows how to make the most of Edinburgh during The Fringe is Gareth Drummond, head concierge at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel.

Gareth, who has worked at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel for over ten years, was awarded membership to the illustrious Les Clef's d'Or (Society of Golden Keys) in 2011. The members of this tight-knit group of concierges are revered for their professional gravitas, integrity, local knowledge and impeccable recommendations. Each wears a solid gold cross on their lapel to signify their membership of this elite group.

Top tips during The Fringe

Gareth Drummond offers his golden tips for getting the best out of the city during the Fringe Festival:

  1. Ticket office says the show you want to see is SOLD OUT? It might not be. Ticket sales offices aren't the only place to buy tickets. Many people aren't aware that the venues are allocated a good portion of available tickets, so be sure to ring them to check.
  2. Climb every mountain (or hill). Arthur's Seat (251m) or Carlton Hill (103m) offer spectacular views over Edinburgh, a city granted UNESCO world heritage status in 1995. Steeped in history, these hills are a great way to find a whole new perspective of Scotland's capital and help with getting your bearings to navigate the city.
  3. Star gazing. If you are looking to spot a celebrity - head to The Pleasance Courtyard. The venue, between the Cowgate and the Parliament, sits in a world of its own, and is considered the heart of the Fringe. It offers specialised beer and gin bars, great street food and an enchanting atmosphere.
  4. Escape the noise. Enjoy a relaxing walk along the Water of Leith, Edinburgh's river, which offers peace and quiet, and a chance to spot local wildlife. Alternatively, head to the family friendly Book Festival in Charlotte Square.
  5. A royal view from Greyfriars Kirkyard. Unbeknownst to many, one of the finest views of Edinburgh Castle is from this 16th century graveyard, home to many a notable character and one of the most haunted places in Scotland.
  6. People watch. Sit outside and watch the world go by from Victoria Terrace, an enclave overlooking the Grass Market with cafes and restaurants. Sat in the heart of the city, it's a great place to soak up the atmosphere - and a drink or two.

Gareth Drummond, head concierge at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, said: "My overarching advice to visitors to Edinburgh would be to consult your concierge. We are here to help and make it our business to know more about the city than anyone else. As well as heading along to many of the shows myself so I can provide personal recommendations, my bedtime reading every July is the Fringe Programme. Whether it is comedy, Shakespeare, music, or a place for a quiet drink with a view, I'll be here to help.

"The Fringe Festival is central to the character of the city of Edinburgh and attracts visitors from all over the world. Over the ten years I've been working at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, we have welcomed guests from China, Australia and South America who I've had the distinct pleasure of helping to enjoy the best the city has to offer."

Test the Concierge

Gareth and his team at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel invite guests to test their knowledge of the city at any time. If they can't answer the question, as well as doing some homework that night, guests win a token prize such as a postcard.

Here are a few little known facts about Edinburgh from the concierge team at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel:

  1. Edinburgh has 1,788 solicitors, 1,091 chartered surveyors, 1,322 chartered accountants, 33,500 university students, and 20,345 car parking spaces.
  2. Sean Connery grew up in Edinburgh and, as a boy, delivered milk to Fettes College, where James Bond went to school.
  3. The word 'caddie' more commonly associated now with golf originated from the men hired to carry pails of water to tenement flats in Edinburgh's Old Town.
  4. In the Old Calton Burial Ground, there is a memorial to the Scottish soldiers who died in the American Civil War and a statue of Abraham Lincoln - the first one erected outside the USA.
  5. The city has more women, 242,020, compared to only 216,894 men.