You guys, I am SO excited! The Edinburgh Fringe Festival starts today! I’ve been waiting patiently for the start of this festival for what feels like forever. We went to our first show on Wednesday, which was a preview show of Trainspotting. It was pretty incredible. If the rest of the festival is remotely as good as our first show, it’s going to be the best three weeks ever. We’ve already got tickets for more than a dozen shows ready to go!
What’s the Fringe Festival you ask? Let me try to explain. Keep in mind that this is my first time attending the festival, so all of this information is coming from second-hand sources and the Internet. Basically, it’s the coolest festival in the world, and everyone should get on a plane right now and come see some shows.
It’s a festival started by performers.
The Fringe Festival started in 1947 when eight different groups of performers showed up at a different Edinburgh Festival – the Edinburgh International Festival. The only problem? They were uninvited, thus weren’t in any official program. That didn’t stop them, and they performed “on the fringe of the festival”, which was the beginning of the Fringe as it’s known it today.
By 1958 the Festival Fringe Society was created in response to the success of these groups performing every single year. The Society was a way to formalize the groups of performers as well as to create basic processes surrounding the festival; they created a central box office, made programs and provided information to artists.
Whatever you fancy, you can find it at the Fringe.
Theater. Comedy. Dance. Circus. Anything you can imagine, it’s there. Musicals and operas, spoken word and children’s shows. There are all kinds of exhibits and events too. Today we’re going to a breakfast show, which we’ll follow with an improv show and end our afternoon with a dark contemporary theater piece about the Internet. It’s a good thing we have flexible work schedules!
You can pick and choose what you want to see, since the Fringe is designed for maximum show viewing. Walking between different venues is pretty easy, since there are quite a few in the same areas. The shows are spaced so you can hit more than one show in a day quite easily.
It’s the largest arts festival in the world.
Last year the festival saw 50,459 performers. They performed in over 313 venues, officially making it the world’s largest arts festival. Over a million people descend on Edinburgh for the three-week festival in August. One million! Even on Wednesday we saw a bit of a change in the amount of people walking around the Royal Mile and Old Town, so I can only imagine what it will be like come this weekend.
No one vets the performers.
The best part of Fringe Festival? There is absolutely no vetting done of the program. That means that anyone with something interesting to say or perform can share their story with the masses. The only thing they need is a venue to host them. That means there’s a huge supply of interesting, dynamic shows to take in. It’s a celebration of all types and kind of performances.
You can attend the festival on any budget.
We bought a lot of tickets in advance, it’s true. But we’re Friends of the Fringe, so we got quite a few at a 2-for-1 price. Not that all of the shows are pricey, in fact the most expensive show we’re going to see is £20 a ticket (but even that’s not expensive, because it fell under the Friends of the Fringe discount). The rest are all under £12 or less, with most coming in around £5-7.
But there are also plenty of free shows to see, and we plan on seeing as many as we can. There’s also the Half Price Hut. You can visit the Hut every day to see what shows are offering tickets for half price and pick and choose your shows based on your interests.
So, did I convince you to book your plane ticket yet? I know not everyone can make it for the Fringe, but I have a feeling I’m going to be telling everyone to add it to their bucket list before the final curtain closes.
Happy weekend, everyone!