Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Fringe Festival

The Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, which in 2018 spanned 25 days and featured more than 55,000 performances of 3,548 different shows in 317 venues.

Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place annually in Edinburgh, in the month of August. As an event it “has done more to place Edinburgh in the forefront of world cities than anything else”.

The Festival is supported by the Festival Fringe Society, which publishes the programme, sells tickets to all events from a central physical box office and website, and offers year-round advice and support to performers.

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The Fringe started life when eight theatre companies turned up uninvited to the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival in 1947. With the International Festival using the city’s major venues, these companies took over smaller, alternative venues for their productions.

This meant that two defining features of the future Fringe were established at the very beginning – the lack of official invitations to perform and the use of unconventional venues.

The word “fringe” had in fact been used in a review of Everyman in 1947, when a critic remarked it was a shame the show was so far out “on the fringe of the Festival”. In 1950, it was still being referred to in similar terms, with a small ‘f’.

Since it was not yet fully developed, much of the early years of the Fringe has gone unrecorded, except through anecdote.[18] It did not benefit from any official organisation until 1951, when students of the University of Edinburgh set up a drop-in centre in the YMCA, where cheap food and a bed for the night were made available to participating groups.

In the 60s and 70s, the Fringe began to establish its reputation for size and variety and the tension between it and the more formal International Festival became of mutual benefit.

The early 1980s saw the arrival of the “super-venue” – locations that contained multiple performing spaces.

The comedy section has grown over recent decades to become the biggest section of the programme. The 2008 Fringe marked the first time that comedy has made up the largest category of entertainment.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. Old volcanoes ensure a dramatic natural setting, with the imposing castle atop one. Beneath its guard, the city combines medieval relics, Georgian grandeur and a powerful layer of modern life with contemporary avant-garde.

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh (map) were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1995.

Walking should always be your first choice within central Edinburgh. The centre is compact – most of the sights and major tourist attractions are within the Old Town (mainly around the Castle and Royal Mile) and New Town, and are at most 15 min walk apart.

Public transport

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TRAVELINE — Provides online travel planner services for all public transportation across Great Britain.

CityMapper – Edinburgh | The ultimate transport app and technology for mobility in cities.

+ Getting Around Edinburgh (edinburgh.org) • GETTING AROUND SCOTLAND (visitscotland.com) • Getting around Britain (visitbritain.com).

 BUS >   Lothian BusesFirst Group – buses around the city and suburbs. National Express | UK Stop finder – the largest intercity bus operator in the UK.

 RAIL >   National Rail – information about all trains, routes and stations. Train – Planning trip – train travel planner for all UK operators >> (*Rail travel in Great Britain)

 AIRPORTS >   Edinburgh Airport – from / to the airport > Airlink100. Information about all airports in the country – airportguides.co.uk. The most important airports are London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester Airport.

 WATERWAYS >   (*Ferry routes to Great Britain)

Bicycles may be taken on car ferries and on Eurotunnel shuttle trains. Eurostar allows folding bikes on all its trains, and offers a more restricted service for other bikes, but has quite strict and specific rules that are worth reading up on before you travel.

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