Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Edinburgh Fringe Festival

A vast, wonderful, sprawling cornucopia of delights, oddities, sophistication, vulgarity, comedy, tragedy and utter indescribability – and that’s just during a five minute walk down the Royal Mile at Edinburgh Fringe time…

[Image credit: Janeanne Gilchrist]

4 - 28 August 2017

The Edinburgh Fringe has so much going on that to try to properly sum it up quickly is virtually impossible – there’s theatre, dance, cabaret, comedy, exhibitions, events, musicals, opera, children’s shows, music and more! Put it this way – the brochure is over 400 pages long, is on A4 paper, and has fairly small and closely packed type. What we’re trying to say is that it’s huge. Really huge. In fact, the Edinburgh Fringe is unquestionably the biggest arts festival in the world.

The Fringe is open to everyone - anyone can put on a show here, and so every year up-and-coming artists flock to Edinburgh to try out new material, hoping to follow in the footsteps of household names who got their big break here (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson, to name just a few), while established names return again and again to romp in the artistic vibrancy of this incredible festival.

With its gargantuan size, the Edinburgh Fringe can seem a bit daunting at first, but as you leaf through the programme remember this is a wonderful and (almost) endless collection of opportunities – there really is something for everyone at the Fringe, and the best way is often just to plunge in headfirst and see what takes your fancy.

History of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Fringe Acrobatic Performer Cr Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

[Image credit: Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society]

The Fringe Festival story dates back to 1947, back when the Edinburgh International Festival was still in its infancy. Even though they hadn't been invited to perform in the International Festival, eight theatre groups came up to Edinburgh anyway and put on their own productions outside the regular programme. These shows became known as the "Fringe" of the festival - and the name stuck.

Over the next few years more performers followed their initial example and in 1958 the Festival Fringe Society was formed. This formalised the existance of the growing collection of performances, provided infomation to artists, published a programme and brought it all together under a central box office. However, the Society kept the same spirit that came from those ad-hoc performances back in 1947 and even to this day the Society doesn't select or censor any performances. Anyone who wants to put on a show and secure a venue is welcome to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

Find the Fringe

Festival Night

If you are in Edinburgh city centre during the month of August, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is pretty hard to miss. From fences and walls plastered with posters, flyers being offered at every turn and intriguing street performers popping up everywhere, it feels like the Fringe takes over the city. 

Indeed the spread of the Fringe is far and wide across Edinburgh, with over 300 venues ranging from grand theatres to small basements. The main players include the Pleasance, Assembly, Gilded Balloon and Underbelly, but there are a huge number of venues across the city, most of which you can identify with their venue number sign normally hanging outside.

Fringe highlights

Fringe Ukelele Player Cr Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

[Image credit: Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society]

On a budget? Enjoying the Edinburgh Festival Fringe needn't break the bank. A lot of shows offer two for one tickets on the first Monday and Tuesday of the Fringe, and the Fringe Half Price Hut offers half price tickets for selected performances on the day. 

Over the last few years, the Free Fringe has gained huge popularity, with some venues putting on shows that are free of charge. However, be prepared to pop some change in the performer's hat or bucket as you leave! 

With a growing variety of performances every year, the best thing you can do come festival time is grab a programme and take a chance on whatever you feel takes your fancy. Listen to people in the box office queue and ask what they have enjoyed, or download the Fringe App and jump into a performance that is nearby. Whatever you do, allow yourself to get sucked into the electric atmosphere. It's the largest arts festival in the world. And it's right on your doorstep. 

For more information, to view the full programme, and to book tickets, please visit the Edinburgh Fringe website, www.edfringe.com.