Edinburgh is a lovely city to visit any time of the year. With a charming Old Town and an extinct volcano located right where the Edinburgh castle lies, this UNESCO World Heritage City is one of those literary places taken out of a fairy tale.
However, it is in August when the Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place, featuring more than 55,000 performances (figures from 2018), that the city comes alive to its best.
An inspiring initiative
The Edinburgh festival is the largest arts festival in the whole world lasting for 3 whole weeks and, hosting around 3400 shows in more than 300 venues.
The festival was founded back in 1947 by 8 theater companies who, after not being invited to the Edinburgh International Festival, decided nonetheless to make their appearance in smaller theater venues.
This event manifested the goal of founding a festival that would bring back the jolly spirit to the Scottish capital after the Second War World. As well, there was a need to create a new post-war identity and it was through artistic expression that they could make it happen.
On the first edition, the Fringe Festival brought together conductor Bruno Walter with the Vienna Philharmonic – a concert that marked this kind of renovation that was intended.
A festival for everyone
The festival is a meeting point for people of all nations. Anyone who wants to tell a story can participate with a performance, as long as they get a venue to host them.
You will find plays with big names or unknown performers that go to the festival as a way of starting up their career. It is a great place to witness new creative talent.
Expect also a lot of street acts as the city fills with entertainers from all walks of life. Some do small demonstrations in the streets to attract visitors to their shows.
Genres go from comedy to dance, theater, circus cabaret, musicals opera, children's shows, spoken word, you name it!
However, since the 80s, comedy has taken an important place during the festival. It was with The Cellar Tapes performed by Cambridge Footlights, who won the first Comedy Award, that the tendency began to emerge. The play featured well-known actors Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson.
The Fringe festival had the first ever known mobile phone app in the world in 1999. Festivalgoers could access the complete festival guide, making it a great step in the way the world will begin to communicate.
Comics like Robin Williams and Mike Myers, as well as Hugh Grant, have made their appearance at the festival. Ricky Gervais performed to 6000 people in the Edinburgh Castle in 2007.
Good to know before going
The Festival is popular, and tickets sell fast. They usually start selling 6 to 3 months in advance, so make sure to check their website. Show prices tend to vary from £5 to £30.
If you are visiting last minute and can't find tickets, check out the Free Edinburgh Festival that also happens at the same time.