For many people from all over the world, the arts festival known as the Edinburgh Fringe is one of the most important events in the Scottish annual calendar. The three week festival takes place every August in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, and sees the city filled with huge numbers of live performances across multiple venues.
The Edinburgh Fringe festival began back in 1947. During that year, the Edinburgh International Festival was formed, and when eight theatre groups who were not on the official programme arrived, they decided that they would still perform, but on the fringe of the festival – hence the name. During every subsequent year, more and more performers arrived in Edinburgh during the International Festival to do exactly the same, and as a result, the Festival Fringe Society was created in 1958.
Now, the festival is more popular than ever. In 2014 alone, 299 venues across the city hosted no fewer than 49,497 performances of 3,193 different shows, meaning that it was the largest arts festival in the world.
Those who choose to visit Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival in August will find that the city has plenty to offer. Comprising comedy, theatre, music, children’s shows, visual arts, dance and talks, the majority of the performing arts are well represented – and with various performance styles to suit all tastes.
With no selection committee, it’s possible for any type of performing act to be involved, which often leads to the inclusion of many experimental performances that may not be featured in more conservative festival environments. This means that – providing they can find a venue to host them – anyone who has an interesting story to tell could be featured in the festival programme.
The openness of the Edinburgh Fringe means that performers are incredibly varied, from previously unknown artists who are looking to begin or grow their careers to some of the world’s biggest names in theatre, dance, comedy, music and more. A number of artists have risen to fame after performing at the Edinburgh Fringe: John Cleese and Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame, Rowan Atkinson, Sarah Millican and others all got their big breaks at this world-renowned Scottish festival.
Venue-wise, there are plenty of places where those visiting the festival can take in a performance or two. While some of the performances take place in the city’s major dedicated venues such as the Assembly Rooms and the Traverse Theatre, others can be discovered in the city’s public parks, in function rooms above pubs and in various weird and wonderful venues across Edinburgh. Whatever your artistic interests, there’s no doubt that you’ll find something that appeals to you if you visit Edinburgh during Fringe season.