You Need To Visit Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Image by James Glen from Pixabay

The capital of Scotland is the world’s leading festival city, and it definitely lives up to its reputation. Hosting 11 official festivals throughout the year, and countless smaller ones, it is the ideal city to visit if you’re an avid festival goer. But the biggest, and certainly the most impressive is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, or simply called “The Fringe.” 

Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place in Edinburgh every year in August. It is a very diverse festival, celebrating all types of arts, including theater, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, musicals, opera, music, and spoken word, followed up by various exhibitions and events. To this day, it has hosted over 30,000 performances and more than 2,000 shows.

The thing that sets this festival apart is the fact that this is an open access festival, which means anyone is allowed to participate with whatever performance they choose. There is no jury or selection committee that decides on the nature of the performances. For this reason, each year is full of surprises and unexpected shows. 

The festival is also famous for its use of unconventional venues. Apart from the established venues — such as the Assembly, Gilded Balloon, The Pleasance and Underbelly, known as the “Big Four,” as well as Traverse Theatre, Cabaret Voltaire and The Stand comedy club — The Fringe takes place all over the city.

The outdoors portion mainly focuses on the pedestrian area of High Street around St Giles’ Cathedral, but other venues include numerous improvised spaces such as rooms above pubs, public parks and even moving vehicles. At this time, the streets are brimming with countless street performers and thousands of buskers.

There are a few coinciding sub-festivals that also fall under the Fringe umbrella, such as The Edge, which promotes up-and-coming bands, The Edinburgh Comedy Festival, and The Edinburgh International Book Festival, which takes place in Charlotte Square Garden and George Street, hosting events such as writing workshops, panel discussions, and performances by international poets and writers.