The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Scotland’s capital city. Every year thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. In 2013 there were 45,464 performances of 2,871 shows, making it the largest ever arts festival in the world. The Fringe story dates back to 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the (then newly formed) Edinburgh International Festival, an initiative created to celebrate and enrich European cultural life in the wake of the Second World War. Not being part of the official programme of the International Festival didn’t stop these performers – they just went ahead and staged their shows on the ‘Fringe of the Festival’ anyway – coining the phrase and the name ‘(Edinburgh) Festival Fringe’.
Year on year more and more performers followed their example and in 1958 the Festival Fringe Society was created in response to the success of this growing trend. With thousands of shows in more than 250 venues, the Fringe is the largest arts festival on earth! So whether you’re a seasoned Fringe visitor, performer or this is your first experience of the festival, there is always a fair bit of planning required to make the most of what’s on offer.
The Fringe Society is here to help you plan your trip and get around. There’s loads of information in the Official Fringe Programme, including maps of all venues. You can easily search and book tickets to every show on the Fringe at edfringe.com or via their official App for iPhone and Android and then pick your tickets up at one of their collection points situated all over the city. You could also pop into their Box Office or pick up the phone and they will help in person. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, a registered charity, works year round to develop and improve services to make sure the world’s largest arts festival is an all-round better experience each time you visit.
Getting to Edinburgh
The Fringe Festival will always leave you wanting more, but the journey to Edinburgh is part of the fun too. Whether travelling by rail or road, via the Highlands or the Borders, the landscape is spectacularly breath-taking. Your travel to Edinburgh has an impact on the environment and flying from cities in the UK can take as long as travelling by train when you consider check-in times, why not consider coming by train or bus.
Getting around Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a compact city and the majority of venues are located within easy walking distance of each other. During August, the quickest way to get between venues can often be on foot. Edinburgh has an excellent local bus service for getting into the city if you’re staying in the outskirts, or for getting around, and most venues are not far from a bus stop. Edinburgh also has the newly opened tramline, and plenty of on and off road cycle paths.
And remember: Dress Wisely
You are in Scotland, a country infamous for putting on a spectacular weather show that delivers four seasons in one day. Even though it’s August you’d best be prepared for sun, warmth, rain, cold and lots and lots of walking. Remember: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.
With thousands of shows on offer it would be hard to take it all in – the secret to the Fringe is to find a blissful balance between quantity and quality. If you hit the road early each morning you stand a better chance of getting the tickets you really want. And if you don’t.... well, take a chance on something else.
Open your mind… and your heart
Edinburgh’s population triples during the festival, so that means there will be quite a few people around. The good news is that you can always rely on a good old British spirit – and queue – in the most unlikely of places! Queues are a great place to make friends and get festival recommendations, so make the most of your time in line. Keep a sense of humour about it all as you move around town and an open mind: swap any emerging ‘crowd rage’ for a lovely dose of ‘festival fever’