The Edinburgh Fringe Festival - Quick Facts

Edinburgh Fringe 2016
© Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes over Scotland's capital for most of August.

Now in its 69th year, it will launch August 5 with the promise that, until the final curtain falls on August 29, "Here anything goes, anything can happen." The 2016 program boldly declares that the festival, which actually doubles the population of Edinburgh in August, has been "defying the norm since 1947."

So what's it all about and what can you expect? Here are a few facts to put you in the picture.

The Edinburgh Fringe Basics

  • What The biggest arts festival in the world
  • Where All over Edinburgh, from private flats and circus tents to pub theatres and public toilets!
  • When More than three weeks in August
  • Who performs? Anybody who wants to. Edinburgh is an open festival - there are thousands of registered shows and tens of thousands of individual performances.
  • Admission Prices vary but most tickets cost just a few pounds. Most artist just try to cover their costs. And there is plenty of street theatre that is free.
  • Visit their website to:
    • See what's on
    • Buy tickets
    • Find how to put on a show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

A bit of background

In 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival was organized to perk up post war Britain. The Fringe Festival began along side it, as an informal opportunity for less established and more off beat artists. In those days, it was known as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Nowadays, it's the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and there is plenty in that subtle rearrangement of words. The Edinburgh International Festival continues to host important theatre, music and dance companies from around the world and is a very prestigious affair. But when it comes to an arts party to beat the band, the Fringe Festival is the whole enchilada.

The biggest arts festival in the world?

That's a pretty big claim but the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has the amazing facts to back it up. Here are a few:

  • 3,269 shows will be staged for the 2016 festival.
  • In 2016, 50,266 performances are scheduled in 294 venues. Tens of thousands of performers, representing companies from 48 countries will appear.
  • Among the new and unique venues in 2016, The National Museum of Scotland will take part for the first time, partnering with Guilded Balloon to present a mix of comedy, theatre and children's shows.
  • In 2015, Festival organizers sold more than 2.29 million tickets - but hundreds of shows were absolutely free. In fact, in 2016, a total of 643 free shows and 164 pay-what-you-want shows are included in the program.
  • 1,731 performances in 2016 will be world premieres.

So, pretty big then? Well, every year the Edinburgh Fringe gets bigger and, as usual, each year produces the biggest arts festival in the world, ever.

What kinds of performances to expect

Performances range from stand up comedy, revivals of classic plays, one person performances to wildly avant gard, in-your-face productions in places like - believe it or not - a public toilet and a moving, double decker bus.

Though every year is unique, the art forms scheduled for the festival in 2016 can give you an idea:

  • Theatre - 27%
  • Comedy - 34%
  • Music - 15%
  • Musicals and opera - 4%
  • Children’s shows - 5%
  • Dance, circus and physical theatre - 3%.
  • Cabaret and Variety,  and Event - 4% each.
  • Spoken Word - 3%
  • Exhibitions - 1%


Is it family-friendly?

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has something for everyone. There is plenty of entertaining street theatre, parades to thrill kids of all ages and lots for children to gawk at, photograph and enjoy. And there are numbers of shows, puppet shows, workshops and musical events for kids. One proviso though - Edinburgh is crowded during Festival season so children should be old enough to cope with crowds or young enough not to notice.

Find out lots more about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival


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