Karen Koren’s £5 Fringe deal for city residents

Karen Koren's ticket deal will give Edinburghers the chance to see shows for just �5. Picture: Steve Ullathorne
Karen Koren's ticket deal will give Edinburghers the chance to see shows for just �5. Picture: Steve Ullathorne
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It’s one of the biggest complaints for residents as the Festival season gets under way – the influx of tourists snapping up expensive tickets to the best shows in town.

But this year the Gilded Balloon is hoping to change that by offering Edinburghers the chance to see shows for just £5.

The venue has set up the offer to cover four days in August, with every show available to city residents at a discounted rate.

And that means Fringe fans can see acts such as stand-up comedians Tom Rhodes with his show Colossus, Mock the Week star Zoe Lyons with her show Mustard Cutter and last year’s winner of So You Think You’re Funny, Demi Lardner, for a fraction of the full price.

The discount comes after the Big Wheel in Princes Street Gardens also offered a discount for residents, following heavy criticism of the cost at Christmas.

The rate will be available for four dates – Wednesday, August 6 and August 11-13.

Karen Koren, the Gilded Balloon’s artistic director, said she hoped the “carrot” would draw in more of the “home-grown crowd”.

“Gilded Balloon is an Edinburgh company and we live and work in Edinburgh so we would like to be able to give our home-grown crowd some support,” she said.

“Edinburgh residents are brilliant at coming out to the Fringe but we would like to support them by giving them a little bit of our ‘carrot’ to come out more and see some of our lovely shows.”

“We care about Edinburgh – I love Edinburgh and have lived here all my life, even though I’m a first generation because my family is Norwegian so I want everyone to come and see the shows in this beautiful city,” she added.

Ms Koren first set up the Festival venue in the Cowgate in 1986 but it has now been housed in Teviot Row House, in Bristo Square, where it sells up to around 150,000 tickets every year.

Ms Koren admitted the majority of ticket-holders were English or from international countries but that she wanted to encourage more Edinburgh residents to get involved, especially for the late-night shows.

She added: “A lot of Londoners come up because they are very used to this kind of comedy and are used to going out, especially for the late-night shows, whereas the Edinburgh audience are very good at daytime but not coming to the later evening shows so there might not be as many.”

Anyone with an Edinburgh EH postcode can get access to the £5 tickets as long as they bring along something with their address on and ID to get access to them.

Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said it was reassuring to see offers for Edinburgh residents.

She said: “Since the people of Edinburgh have been fundamentally integral to the success of the Fringe over the past six decades, it is great to see offers which allow them to make the most of the Fringe.”


There are plenty of other ways to lower the budget of the Fringe. You can normally find 2-for-1 offers around, while the Fringe half-price ticket hut at the bottom of The Mound does exactly what it says on the tin, selling a selection of tickets at half their face value. Failing that, wait at a venue and take a chance on tickets handed out by promoters.

Hotel bills not as high as Glasgow

HOTEL prices in the Capital have increased by 36 per cent ahead of the Fringe festival – but are still cheaper than hotels in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games.

Hotel search website trivago.co.uk found that during the run of the world’s biggest arts festival an overnight stay in Edinburgh will cost an average of £196 – a 36 per cent increase from an average of £144 per night during July.

The most expensive day to book is Saturday, August 16, when one night will cost an average of £232. And getting a room can be tough too, with hotel availability dropping to just 18 per cent.

But that is still a small rise compared to the prices in Glasgow – the website found that the average hotel price during the Commonwealth Games went up 158 per cent to £344 for one night.

Denise Bartlett, of UK Public Relations, said: “Although these prices are high, they are modest when compared to the recent price increases in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, or the annual New Year’s Eve price hikes in Edinburgh. In comparison, £196 seems fairly reasonable. Hoteliers have been subjected to online criticism for these price hikes, particularly during the Commonwealth Games.”

Fringe cops

POLICE have vowed they’ll be out in force to keep the streets safe during the Edinburgh Festival.

Operation Eastborough will see high-visibility patrols deployed throughout the city centre throughout August.

A social media campaign will also be launched with the hashtag #EdFest being used by the Capital’s policing account on Twitter – @EdinburghPolice.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, divisional commander for the City of Edinburgh, said: “My officers will be out and about on foot and bike patrols to identify any issues that require a police response.”