Doing the Fringe for Free with Little Birdy
New membership scheme Little Birdy offers the chance of unlimited complimentary tickets to Fringe shows. We sent a writer to find out if it's as good as it sounds
I’ve lived in Edinburgh for nearly eight years now. Every year, as August looms closer, people ask me the same question:
“But aren’t you sick of the Fringe yet?”
Sure, I can understand their thinking. During the Fringe, Edinburgh’s population seems to increase tenfold. It’s impossible to get anywhere on time. Our favourite bars and restaurants are taken over by budding comedians and thespians, and unless you happen to work in a profession which allows you to wear a lanyard, it’s near impossible to make it from one shop to the other without accumulating half a dozen unwanted flyers.
But would I trade in the Fringe for another dull and quiet month when we already have eleven of those to kill in a year? Not a chance.
I love the buzz which trickles throughout the city, from the top of the Royal Mile to the bottom of Leith Walk. I love the excitement of knowing that there’s always a show – or more importantly – a party around every corner. I miss the pop-up bars when they’re gone.
As far as I can see, there are only two major problems with the Fringe; budgeting and knowing how to decide which shows to go to. I’m always on the lookout for savvy ways to make the most out of the festival. Thankfully, a little birdy came my way and told me about a new booking site which might just make things a little easier when August comes. The name… wait for it… is Little Birdy Tix. See what I did there?
For the last three years, Little Birdy Tix has been running a successful membership scheme at Australia’s largest festivals. Now it’s flown north and landed on UK soil, offering Fringe-goers a money-saving way to attend shows to their hearts’ content.
The company markets itself as an “audience development tool designed to connect artists, venues, festivals, publicists and promoters with the general public.” Sounds complicated, right? It’s actually pretty simple.
Basically their aim is to allow venues and performers to increase their audiences by tempting them in with a good deal. By paying an annual fee of £35, potential audience-members get unlimited access to complimentary tickets throughout the year. It’s essentially a win-win situation, as it ensures that venues will get bums on seats, and also that tickets are going to people who will genuinely use and appreciate them.
Busy shows and happy customers sounded like a good formula to me, and so I decided to give the site a go. All in all, I found the process to be pretty simple: visit the site, create an account, pay the fee and book yourself into the desired shows before collecting the tickets on the door.
I was impressed by the range of shows on offer, with everything from theatre and dance to comedy and cabaret on tap. Though I wasn't able to make all of the time slots during the week I had available (alas, so many shows, not enough time…), I was able to book myself into a couple of great comedy nights – Brexit at Tiffany’s at Assembly Checkpoint, and the brilliant Naz Osmanoglu at the Mash House. The whole process took a matter of minutes, and I have to admit, there was something pretty nifty about being able to turn up at a venue and have your name ticked off on the complimentary guest list… even if you know you aren’t quite as V.I. of a P. as you’d like to be…
From these bookings alone, I had covered the potential cost of my membership. In fact, with the average Fringe show costing £12, you'd only have to go to three or four shows within the month, and suddenly you're quids in.
So what are the catches? Turns out, there’s very few:
• The selection of shows is, for the time being, relatively limited.
• If you don’t attend the show your membership could be cancelled. The whole purpose of the site is to avoid empty seats, not encourage them. The site gives you the option to cancel your reservation up until four hours before the start of the show, so there’s still flexibility if life gets in the way.
• You and only you are able to collect your tickets from the venue. Photo I.D. may be asked for.
• And finally… selling the tickets on is strictly prohibited. Which is definitely fair.
These seem a small price to pay however for a service which benefits both performers and people who love to see great shows but don’t want to break the bank.
For more information visit www.littlebirdytix.co.uk
Little Birdy provided a free membership to our writer for the purposes of this article