29 Facts About Edinburgh Fringe


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

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Artistic credentials of the Edinburgh Fringe were established by the creators of the Traverse Theatre, John Calder, Jim Haynes and Richard Demarco, in 1963.

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John Cairney is credited with pioneering the one-man Edinburgh Fringe show with his show based on Robert Burns, There Was A Man, in 1965, although Elspeth Douglas Reid had done her One Woman Theatre as early as 1955.

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Many years, the Edinburgh Fringe Club provided nightly showcases of Edinburgh Fringe fare to allow audiences to sample shows.

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Problems then began to arise as the Edinburgh Fringe became too big for students and volunteers to deal with.

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Edinburgh Fringe started work in January 1971, originally on a part-time basis, but it became clear after a few weeks that the role would have to be permanent.

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Edinburgh Fringe Sunday started in the High Street in 1981 and moved, through pressure of popularity, to Holyrood Park in 1983.

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Edinburgh Fringe Sunday was held on the second Sunday of the Edinburgh Fringe when companies performed for free.

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Moffatt believed the growth of the Edinburgh Fringe would stop due to a lack of venues, but just as that limit seemed to be being reached, groups began to find more efficient ways of sharing spaces.

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Edinburgh Fringe Club ceased operation in 2004, but various venues still provide "the Best of the Fest" and similar.

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In 2008, the Edinburgh Fringe faced the biggest crisis in its history when the computerised ticketing system failed.

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The resultant financial loss suffered by the Edinburgh Fringe Society was estimated at £300,000, which it was forced to meet from its reserves, although other sources report this at £900,000.

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The Edinburgh Fringe returned in 2021 with fewer shows and restrictions due to Covid-19 pandemic.

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In 1960, Alan Bennett, Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller performed at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Beyond the Edinburgh Fringe, introducing a new wave of British satire and heralding a change in attitudes towards politicians and the establishment.

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In 1986, the Edinburgh Fringe saw the break-out performance of Craig Ferguson as "Bing Hitler", a "parody of all the uber-patriotic native folk singers who seemed to infect every public performance in Scotland".

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Tattoo set-up at Edinburgh Fringe Castle served as the 6,000-seat venue for a one-off performance by Ricky Gervais of his stand-up show Fame in 2007.

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Edinburgh Fringe was succeeded in 1983 by Jonathan Miller, and then by Elizabeth Smith, Baroness Smith.

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Edinburgh Fringe left in 1976 to run the Craigmillar Festival, and was succeeded by Alistair Moffat, who had been involved in running the first St Andrews Festival in 1971 and had organised a small festival in his hometown of Kelso in 1972.

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Edinburgh Fringe was replaced by Michael Dale, who had worked with Moffat at the St Andrews Festival and was recommended to apply by him.

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Edinburgh Fringe had worked at the Cambridge Arts Theatre and Young Vic.

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Edinburgh Fringe was followed by Paul Gudgin, Jon Morgan and Kath Mainland.

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Edinburgh Fringe has made the careers of many on the artistic and organisational side of the Edinburgh Fringe.

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The role of the Edinburgh Fringe Society is solely to facilitate the festival, concentrating mainly on the challenging logistics of organising such a large event.

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The Edinburgh Fringe is a forum for ideas and achievement unique in the UK, and in the whole world.

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The Edinburgh Fringe is the staging ground of the American High School Theatre Festival.

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Some Edinburgh Fringe commentators agree that the Edinburgh Fringe will have to change and that the independent promoters are leading that change.

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The 2008 Edinburgh Fringe marked the first time that comedy has made up the largest category of entertainment.

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In February 2019, Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Fringe Society, stated that "producers and promoters were being unfairly vilified [by the campaign]".

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At the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe comedy was the biggest artform by number of shows, followed by theatre.

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