The Fringe is the greatest show on Earth as far as I’m concerned. From well-known performers playing to packed houses to the new kids on the block trying to make their mark on the world stage, I’ve experienced the lot over the last 15 years.
However, the Fringe established itself long before this in 1947 when eight groups arrived in Edinburgh hoping to perform at the new Edinburgh International Festival but were refused. However, truly embodying #ScotSpirit, with guts and determination they just decided to put on their own shows anyway and the Edinburgh Fringe was born.
Now, 70 years on, we are celebrating World Fringe Day along with similar fringe festivals across the globe. From Adelaide to Prague and Calgary to Limerick, no one is denied entry to a fringe festival making them open access hubs for performers to express their creative freedom and the fringe in Scotland’s historic capital city is the largest.
But it’s not just about the performers, all this creativity and spectacle attracts thousands of visitors to these cities every year. Our statistics show that domestic visitor numbers to Edinburgh increase by an astounding two thirds during peak festival season.
On average, international visitors make an average of 174,000 holiday trips to Edinburgh and the Lothians during August, contributing £63 million in expenditure. Additionally, 290,000 domestic visitor trips are made to Edinburgh in August compared with 186,000 in July with overnight domestic visitors spending in the region of £73 million. Festivals are big business.
But how busy does it get? Well, in August, the capital plays host to the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh International Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, hosting around 25,000 artists, entertainers and performers throughout the month – I guess you can call that pretty busy! And what’s more, all those performers have a huge impact on the visitor through accommodation, food and drink and transport throughout August.
Collectively, the Edinburgh Festivals are a world-leading cultural brand that represent 11 festivals throughout the year. Every year, VisitScotland produces a free Edinburgh Festivals Guide to ensure visitors and residents can enjoy more than 1000 shows and events on offer per day during the city’s busiest month of the year. This year’s edition will be going live soon, watch this space…
When it comes to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I have to say my most memorable experiences are those where I can’t specifically remember the name of the acts, but I can remember something spontaneous, unusual and exciting happening. To me this is the epitome of the Fringe. And my favourite thing to do in the Fringe is to walk down the High Street and watch the faces of our visitors as they are treated to the bizarre, serious and downright hilarious.
I’ll be back this year at The Pleasance or taking in some outlying musical just as fascinated, amused, shocked and amazed as ever, but as always full of admiration for those who light up our lives during the festival.
Do you have a favourite moment from a previous Fringe? Did you see anyone perform before they got really big?
Celebrate with us today using the hashtag #WorldFringeDay