There is simply nothing like it. The biggest arts festival on earth. The Edinburgh Fringe.
Every possible space of this beautiful city seems to be turned into a performance venue, every inch of street is filled with people handing out leaflets telling you to come to theirs, every millimetre of wall is covered in flyers. The energy is extraordinary.
Despite the delightfully amateur feel of much of it, it is a brilliantly run operation that attracts top names (particularly in stand up) and has an efficient booking system that is easy to navigate. Download the app from edfest.com and start planning your day.
We took a spur of the moment trip, found an air b&b at short notice and went up by train (£249 for a family of four with a railcard). We had two nights and three days and were amazed by how much we managed to pack in. Four of the main venues (The Assembly, Gilded Balloon, the Pleasance and Underbelly) have a great hard copy guide, with an excellent children's section at the front that lists shows by performance time. Almost everything is an hour or less.
Let your visit be your own. It doesn't matter if you have a couple of duds in the programme - it will give your kids a sense of perspective. But we liked:
Sholmo's Beatbox Adventure for Kids is a fun intro for all ages at our favourite venue, Underbelly Bristo Square, until 18 Aug, 3.35pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10). Click here for tickets.
For older siblings, our teen reviewers rated Beatbox Academy/BAC's Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster the best thing they saw. At the Traverse until 25 Aug. Click here for tickets.
Another one for older kids (ages 12+), and my pick of the Fringe was Bobby and Amy. A beautifully acted and lyrically written story of two misfit 13 year olds in a Cotswold market town in the 90s. Funny, sad and incredibly moving. At the Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug. Click here for tickets.
We heard good things about Dexter and Winter's Detective Agency for ages 5+ running at Roundabout Summerhall until 25 Aug. Click here for tickets.
Fox Tot is opera for tinies runs at the Edinburgh Academy 9–11 and 13–16 Aug. Click here for tickets.
Ben Garrod is a wonderfully engaging real life scientist. So you Think You Know About Dinosaurs perfectly combines facts and fun and is a must for dino-mad kids of 6+. On until 17 Aug at the Pleasance Courtyard. Click here for tickets.
Bicycle Boy is a 'bike-powered eco musical' coming to the Dome 16–18 Aug. They need the help of kids of 5+ to power the bikes. Sounds intriguing! Click here for details.
Plus endless takes on Shakespeare - Brave Macbeth, Rubbish Shakespeare, The Ruff Guide are just three; puppet Kafka, Bettlemania: Kafka for Kids and book adaptations from Michael Morpurgo I Believe in Unicorns to RL Stevenson's Treasure Island.
And one last adaptation, for older kids again, I was sad to miss Eddie Izzard's Expectations of Great Expectations, running until 25 Aug at the Assembly George Square Studios (ages 12+). Click here for tickets.