It may not be possible to have a completely free weekend (starvation, anyone?) but you can certainly be entertained for nothing. Each of the following events offers free admission – but Free Fringe performers have lots of expenses, so do contribute to their end-of-show collections if you can.
Suggestion 1: go to the market at the seaside! Portobello is a mere bus ride from town, and when you get there you can stroll along the prom, make sandcastles on the beach, trawl the many charity shops, admire the art in Velvet Easel – and visit the amazing monthly market. Traders this time include Windsheil Organic Farm, Alplings (mountain food!), The Caffeine Fix, the Woodland Trust, Vintage Vibes (a service helping to tackle loneliness in Edinburgh’s local communities), Woods Brownie Company, Laceys Jams, Scoff Street Food and at least 15 more. Local trader BG Cycles will be back on site offering a free bicycle check and Caleerie Buskers will provide the music, with a selection of traditional tunes and reels to enjoy whilst shopping. Gates open 9.30am and close 1.30pm on Saturday at Brighton Park, Brighton Place, Portobello.
Suggestion 2: try a some Family Surrealism! Join in the fun at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art’s second Surrealist Saturday Family Day. An entire afternoon full of free activities for children – be transformed into a real-life Dalí or Magritte with surreal face-painting, invent new colours with the Colour Collectors, marvel at the roaming circus performers or have a Surreal Adventure in the themed play area. Picnic lunches and ice-cream will be on sale, and the Gallery is also offering a special £10 family ticket for its Surreal Encounters: Collecting the Marvellous exhibition. 1-4pm Saturday, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art ONE, Bedord Road.
Suggestion 3: experience some Ayrshire Opera! Want to hear some opera in Scots? Ayrshire Opera Experience is a new and exciting arts organisation based on the west coast of Scotland; its soloists are all young professional musicians. This summer the company is bringing The Descent o’ Orpheus tae the Underwarl – ‘an owresettin o an auld French opera fae 1686, La descente d’Orphée aux enfers bi Marc-Antoine Charpentier, intil Sctts’ to the Fringe, and today you can have a little preview of their show. 12.15pm Saturday, St Giles’ Cathedral, High Street. All welcome, free (voluntary collection).
Suggestion Four: go to the Olympics! Well maybe not THE Olympics, but these ones could be just as much fun! North Merchiston Club’s Brazil Olympics Day includes fencing, a bouncy castle, capoeira, a fun run, samba and lots of games, plus Brazilian food, a barbecue and the club’s own Pingado Coffee Shop (bet they haven’t got that in Rio…). 10am-4pm on Sunday at Harrison Park, West Bryson Road, EH11 1EH and North Merchiston Club, Watson Crescent (next to the park).
Suggestion Five: St John’s Festival Pulpit. This weekend and for the next three Sundays, St John’s – which is handily situated at the west end of Princes Street – is hosting some outstanding speakers. This year’s theme is the intersection of public life and religion in the UK, and tonight none other than Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, Senior Rabbi to the West London Synagogue, will be addressing this fascinating subject. Come along for St John’s Choral Evensong at 6pm, then stay on for the talk and a Q &A session. Festival Pulpit is part of the 2016 Just Festival, which aims to challenge perceptions, celebrate differences and promote respectful dialogue through a range of conversations, talks, exhibitions and performances. Read more in The Edinburgh Reporter here. 6pm on Sunday, St John’s Episcopal Church, corner of Princes St and Lothian Road. All welcome.
Suggestion Six: get locked in at the cabaret! Hosted by pioneers of slapdash magic Griffin and Jones, and starring some of the best comedy, magic, burlesque and variety acts on the Fringe, The Lock-in Cabaret is on every night (except Mondays) until 28th August, and admission is free. There’s a different line-up every time. ‘Among its loyal fans The Lock-In Cabaret is fast becoming a Fringe Institution’. Over 18s only. 1am Sunday (ie technically 1am Monday, but the Fringe day doesn’t start till 5am, so this show is actually on the night of Sunday/Monday – see Fringe website here for clarification!), The Voodoo Rooms, West Register Street.
Have a fabulous weekend – and don’t spend all that money you’ve saved too soon, there’s still another 21 days of Fringe frenzy to go….