The Edinburgh Festival Fringe developed as an offshoot of the Edinburgh International Festival, a cultural extravaganza held each year during the month of August since 1947.
The International Festival showcases the best of the performing arts of Scotland, Europe, and the world. Performers who were not invited to participate in the International Festival formed their own “fringe” performance festival, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was born, growing to become the largest performing arts festival in the world.
This yearʻs Fringe (which will conclude this week), offered over 4,000 shows in over 400 venues spread throughout the scenic Old Town in Edinburgh. Beginning at 7 am, and running past midnight, each hour, over 400 performances can be seen in every available space in the city, including restaurants, stores, garages, private residences, meeting rooms, buses, and taxis! Performers not housed in a venue can be seen in the streets singing, dancing, and entrancing the curious crowds of local and international visitors.
The Fringe is a welcoming, creative environment that showcases and celebrates a diversity of talents and cultures from around the world. Fringe performances come in all sizes: large-scale musicals and dance works to intimate one-person shows and stand-up comedy. The vibe of the Fringe leans towards the intimate, personal, creative and engaging. The majority of shows play in smaller venues where the audience is just a few feet away from the performers, allowing the audience to be completely immersed in the show.
The city of Edinburgh (locals pronounce it “Edin-barrah”) is roughly the geographical size of Hilo, but with a bigger population of about a million. In the center of the city, atop a small hill sits Edinburgh Castle surrounded below by centuries-old stone churches and buildings. For the summer months, an 8,000 seat stadium is built on the hill facing the castle. Each night from March to September, visitors can experience the “Edinburgh Military Tattoo”, an international music/dance pageant/light & fireworks show that can only be compared with the opening of the Olympic games.
The Fringe has many sub-festivals, or independent events organized by performing arts groups that host their own performers. One of the most popular of these is the American High School Theater Festival.