Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Page was last changed Nov 8th, 2016 @ 14:43:41

Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or sometimes known simply as the fringe, is the worlds largest arts festival. It was established in 1947 and goes on for four weeks throughout August.

Like many of the festivals that take place during the August period, is considered to be part of the Edinburgh Festival umbrella.

It is mostly a performing arts festival, with theater and comedy being the most popular, although there is dance and music as well. What makes the festival unique is that anyone can perform, and there is no select committee approving the performances. This often results in some very experimental and unusual performances, of which the Fringe is famous for.

The Fringe does not operate like a standard festival, with one weekend ticket, or individual day tickets that then give access to all the venues. Instead there are hundreds of performances scattered throughout the entire city, and customers can buy individual tickets to each performance. Prices are highly variable, with big shows costing more. You can save money by buying tickets early or attending rehearsals. Many shows have dedicated facebook groups or twitter feeds, scope them out and see if they are doing any special promotions, don't be afraid to ask, you might just get a free ticket! Smaller groups sometimes give free performances in an effort to attract crowds, good news for those on a budget.

There are discounts for people with disabilities and children under a certain age, however these vary from venue to venue.



This year's Fringe Festival will showcase the usual mix of excellent theatre, comedy, ballet, and musical performances as well as spaces where artists can exhibit their art. Some highlights will include:

Traverse, a play by writer and director David Grieg that deals with the violence, it psychological roots, and the way a community responds to a traumatic event. The play, which has not even been staged yet, has already caused a scandal because it is partly based on the mass shooting in Norway.

Keep your eyes opened for Humza Arshad's transformation from an internet phenomenon to a comedian on the live stage. Arshad playfully satirises aspects of British Asian culture while delivering a moral message to his audience.

Don't forget to check out Ensemble musikFarbrik's operatic homage to Frank Zappa.

If you are a fan of dance, choreographer Benjamin Millepied of Black Swan fame has created the LA Dance Project, a collective that will put on new performances as well as old classics.


The Festivals reputation precedes itself, which attracts a crowd of arts enthusiasts from all over the world. During the four weeks of the festival Edinburgh turns into a party town, with lots of club nights and a real happening atmosphere in the air.

Venues and other entertainment

The festival takes place in over 265 venues across the city, which range from large theatres to tiny pubs.


Tickets can be purchased from the official website, or via the venue of your desired event. You can also purchase tickets from the official Facebook page, just look up 'Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society'.

Be sure to look out for the Virgin Half Price Hut on the Mound Precinct (next to the Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture), here you will find half price tickets for all the shows as well offers and the collection of pre-booked tickets.

Tickets can also be purchased through the festivals official facebook page.


The festival provides a variety of entertainment for children and adults alike, although it's best to do a bit of research first.

Disability Access

Almost all of the festival venues are wheel-chair accessible, although the city's cobblestones can be hard for the wheels.


Edinburgh in August is generally not particularly warm, with the weather fluctuating around the 15 degrees mark. Be prepared for rain.


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Local Information

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Many of the venues are literally within a stones throw from each other; although there are some instances where a bus ride may be necessary. The bus costs 1.30 per journey and is very easy to use.

Edinburgh is a bicycle friendly city so if you want to bring your bike you won’t feel out of place!

If you are driving through to Edinburgh all pay-and-display parking in Edinburgh city centre is free from 17:00, and more shops in town are being encouraged to stay open late every day for the duration of the Fringe


There is plenty of accommodation around the city to suit all different budgets from cheap youth hostels to swanky five star hotels. It is advisable to book in advance as accommodation can get rather full during the four weeks.

What to wear

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Food and drink

The city has everything from Michelin star restaurants to McDonalds, and many food vendors take to the street, so take your pick!

Perform at the festival

The Fringe is a very open festival and presents performers with great opportunities to participate. There is a fee for participating, with the price going up according to how long the run lasts.


Go to the jobs page at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival official website to find volunteer opportunities.

Drugs and security

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The fringe started in 1947 as an alternative to Edinburgh International Festival, when 8 theatre companies turned up uninvited to the international festival and performed their own more alternative theatre. It was by performing on the fringe of the international festival that the fringe festival got its name. Over the years the festival has continued to develop, with its roots in experimental performing arts. It grew significantly under the direction of Alistair Moffat between 1976 and 1981 with the number of theatre companies rising from 182- 494, making it the largest arts festival in the world.

This trend of growth has continued with the 2009 festival selling 1.8 million tickets in 265 venues. Recent years have interestingly comedy overtake theatre as the most popular performance at the festival.

Over the years the festival has played host to a number of notable performances; In 1960 Peter Cook and Dudley Moore unleashed their show, Beyond the Fringe, which went to inspire a new wave of British satire, changing the tides of British comedy, its influence still felt today. Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was first performed at the festival.

Past lineups

In recent years the festival has seen the careers of contemporary comedians Noel Fielding, Julian Barret, Jack Whitehall, Steve Coogan, Rich Hall and The League of Gentlemen team kick start their careers whilst established comedians such as Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais often perform. Edinburgh continues to be a haven for the best in theatre and comedy.

2012 saw a total of 3,000 events, averaging almost 100 per day! With so many events to choose from, we've rounded up a few 2012 highlights for you to check out:

  • Oliver Reed: Wild Thing / Venue 14 Gilded Balloon Teviot/ 1st - 27th August - Not 8th & 15th / £6-£11 / The premiere of Mike Davis and Rob Crouch’s homage to renowned actor Oliver Reed.
  • My Stepston Stole My Sonic Screwdriver / Venue 14 Gilded Balloon Teviot/ 1-26th August - Not 15th / £6 -£11/ Chortle Award nominee Toby Hadoke’s long-awaited sequel to his Sony Gold Award nominated live show as heard on BBC Radio 7, Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf.
  • Cabaret Whore Her Finest Hour/ Venue 300 Underbelly Bristo Sqaure / 3rd - 12rh August/ £7 - £12/ Following three acclaimed, award-winning years on the Fringe, Sarah-Louise Young returns for a strictly limited run featuring favourite faces from all of her Cabaret Whore shows.
  • Bad Musical/ Venue 14 Gilded Ballon Teviot / 1-27th August - Not 13th August/ £6 - £11/ The worst musical ever written. The culmination of a decade creating theatrical cack, including multiple sell-out Fringes with Bad Play. Sing along to the ultimate in entertainment poison!
  • Miss Havisham's Expectations / Venue 14 Gilded Ballon Teviot / 1st - 27th August, not 8 & 15th / £6-11/ To coincide with Charles Dickens’ bicentenary, Linda Marlowe presents an engaging celebration of one of his most enduringly popular novels.

Other Highlights include the following:

  • COMEDY: David Hasselhoff / Pleasance Grand (0131 556 6550), Aug 21-26
  • THEATRE: The Two Worlds of Charlie F / Pleasance Courtyard (0131 556 6550), Aug 7-11/ Another chance to see Owen Sheers’s much admired verbatim work detailing – using a cast of veterans – the experience of British soldiers wounded in recent combat.
  • MUSIC: Toots & The Maytals / Liquid Rooms (0131 225 2564), Aug 9
  • MUSIC: Santigold / HMV Picture House (0131 221 0100), Aug 22
  • EXHIBITIONS: PhilLp Guston: Late Paintings / Inverleith House (0131 248 2971), until Oct 7/ Controversial late paintings by the former Abstract Expressionist.
  • COMEDY: George Ryegold’s God-In-A-Bag/ Underbelly (Venue 300)/ Until 27 August, 1.45pm
  • COMEDY: Lewis Schaffer: No You Shut Up!/ The Hive (Venue 313)/ Until 27 August. 4:45pm
  • COMEDY: Kaput/ Underbelly, Bristo Square (Venue 300)/ Until 27 August, 3:05pm
  • COMEDY: Stuart Goldsmith: Prick / Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)/ Until 27 August, 7:30pm
  • COMEDY: Diane Spencer: Exquisite Bad Taste / Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)/ Until 26 August, 5pm

If you’re not sure which of the 2,695 shows to see at this year’s Festival Fringe then head over to the main website to have a play with the Suggest-a-tron.

Simply enter some criteria, for example how much you’re willing to pay, how many performers you want to see on stage and what continent you want them to come from, and our Suggest-a-tron will shortlist some shows for you to go and see.