Edinburgh Fringe, officially known as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is undoubtedly world’s largest arts festival. It takes place each year during three weeks in August.
Edinburgh Fringe typically attracts events from the performing arts, mostly drama and comedy but dance and music performance are also quite common. Events can range from ancient Greece drama to modern new works. The Fringe is particularly famous for showcasing experimental works which wouldn’t have been admitted at more formal festivals.
The organizers are the Festival Fringe Society. They sell the tickets and publish the program. There isn’t a selection committee to approve the entries so pretty much anything goes.
The Fringe started when 8 theatre companies showed uninvited to the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947. Ever since, the Fringe has been the alternative to Edinburgh International Festival. The festival got its official name the following year. It wasn’t until 1959 that the first signs of organization came with the creation of the Festival Fringe Society.
During the first 20 years, each performing group had its own hall but around 1970s the concept of sharing a hall became popular. In the 1980s a super-venue was created, basically a tented village which included a space for performing. This super-venue was called “The Circle”.
Nowadays, there are performances in a lot different place, from proper theatres to historic castles, schools or a public toilet.
Over the years a lot of criticism was related to the quality of the arts at the Fringe. Also, much of the criticism has been drawn by the stand-up comedy performed which seems to “take over” the festival as a large number of audiences are drawn only to stand-up comics. This tends to be true since stand-up comedy will be the largest part of the Festival both in 2008 and 2009.
There have been concerns over the years about the rising ticket prices. Some of the reasons include the costs associated with hiring large venues, obtaining the theatre licenses and paying for the accommodation during the festival.
However, in recent years the concept of free shows has been introduced. While in 2005 only 22 shows came under this banner, the number rose to 69 in 2006 and to 320 last year. As much as 90% of the free shows are comedy.
The Fringe 2008
In 2008, the Fringe takes place between Aug 3 and 25. More information can be found on the official Fringe Festival site.