Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016 is only one festival in what can appear to be a dizzying number of summer festivals that all take place in the capital of Scotland. Correctly named the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it is the largest arts festival in the world, held for three weeks from mid-August to early September, and is part of the Edinburgh Festival umbrella that refers to a number of different August festivals.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival History and Facts
The Fringe was established in 1947 as a non-juried complement and alternative to the more "highbrow" Edinburgh International Festival, which concentrates primarily on classical music, theater, dance, and opera. While there are often classical performances at the Fringe, it offers more avant garde productions with a heavy emphasis on comedy and satire. Up until 1981, it operated with only two full-time employees and a large number of volunteers even though the Edinburgh Fringe Festival events included 494 performing companies, a figure that made it the world's largest arts festival. By 2009, there were 34,265 performances in 265 venues. Close to 2,000,000 tickets were sold.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival Venues
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016 takes place pretty much everywhere in the city. You might start at the Fringe Shop and Box Office, located at 180 High Street in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. You can purchase tickets here along with festival souvenirs. You can even get a taste of performances free of charge, since this area of High Street is full of musicians and buskers during the festival. You'll find performances in nightclubs, pubs, mosques, and churches. You can listen to Chopin after lunch and Bach after breakfast at a traditional, members-only gentlemen's club (ladies allowed during the day). There's dance in Princes Street Gardens and plays of the macabre in the Royal College of Surgeons Museum. Theaters, cinemas, and even stately homes are venues. You might find a guerilla theater performance in a public toilet or on a public bus.
Getting around to various Edinburgh Fringe Festival events is relatively easy in this compact city. You really do not need a car, but if you've brought one, be sure you have parking plans situated as parking spaces are limited. Bicycles are great, but remember this is a hilly city; remember the same if you're on foot. There is excellent public bus transportation that is quite affordable, and there are taxi ranks (look for the traditional black cabs) located throughout the city.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival Tickets
Tickets for Edinburgh Fringe Festival events are available in advance as well as from the Box Office on High Street and other outlets. There are so many performances of so many different types that it can be difficult to plan out your entire experience in advance, so there is a policy of allowing audience members to sample certain performances for a period of time before committing to a ticket purchase. There are also numerous free events and two-for-one tickets. There's also a Half Price Hut, where you can find discounted tickets for same-day shows.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival Lodging
There are numerous Edinburgh hotels available to fit just about any budget, from budget hotels and hostels to bed and breakfast inns and stately homes. You can enjoy five star luxury at The Scotsman at 20 North Bridge between the Palace of Holyrood House and Princes Street Gardens. For a comfortable no-frills hotel with a touch of history, you can try the Grassmarket Hotel at 94-96 Grassmarket. It is located in a historic building. This is in the heart of the old part of the city, and the Grassmarket District plays host to a number of Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016 venues.
Other Edinburgh Summer Festivals include: Edinburgh International Film Festival (June), Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Festival of Politics, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh Comedy Festival, and Edinburgh Mela.
Image: www.theedinburghblog.co.uk (flickr)