Edinburgh Festival Fringe for Students - What You Should Know
Summer is here, and no doubt you’re already dreaming up plans of things to do once exam season is over.
Whether you’re living and studying in Edinburgh, or simply visiting from another university town, it’s absolutely essential that you don’t miss out on one big event. That event being the legendary Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
You’ve surely heard of the famous Festival Fringe, but if you’re still not 100% sure what exactly it entails, then we’ve got it covered.
Here’s all you need to know about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2022!
What is it?
Perhaps the most famous of Edinburgh’s various festivals, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is also known as the Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, or just simply as The Fringe.
The Fringe Festival has been going since 1947, and it began as an alternative to the well-established, more formal, Edinburgh International Festival.
The Edinburgh Fringe is now best known for its comedy acts, thanks to its history of producing class acts such as Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson, to name just a few.
Although comedy is the mainstay of the Fringe, all types of acts are welcome here, from theatre, to classical music, to circus shows, to cabaret, opera – the list goes on!
Here you’ll have so much to see you’ll be spoilt for choice - theatre, comedy, dance, physical performances, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and more! It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s the biggest arts festival in the world.
What’s more, anyone can participate, with any type of performance, which means there’s an atmosphere of spontaneity and excitement.
So if you fancy making a name for yourself, get together with some uni mates and put on an act!
The Festival attracts creative producers and the media scouting for the next big talent - who knows, you could get spotted and you’ll have your career planned out post uni!
When and Where
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place for three weeks in August every year. This year it falls between 5th and 29th August, on the Bank Holiday weekend.
During these three weeks the city comes alive, becoming a carnival of comedy, music, street performances, and so much more! What better way to enjoy your summer holidays before heading back to uni?
There’s no 1 specific location where you can check out performances. Over 300 venues spread across the city play host to artists and amateurs. The venues vary greatly - from grand theatres, to pubs and basements.
The biggest venues include the Pleasance, Assembly, Gilded Balloon and Underbelly, but you can find the smaller spaces by looking out for a sign which you’ll usually find hanging outside.
Many venues contain multiple performance spaces, which provide the perfect stage for the literally thousands of acts over the three weeks.
Some stretches of the Royal Mile become pedestrianised during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and it’s on this famous street that you can see a plethora of street performers.
It truly is an adventure - in the Fringe’s history, there have been performances in some wacky places including a taxi, portable toilets, and the back of a motorbike!
Anything is possible here and you’re sure to make unforgettable memories of your uni summer break!
Who is playing?
There are so many artists that it’s impossible to give a full roundup of who to see and what to do. What’s more, a great deal of the acts are grassroots, unknown performers, which is part of the fun!
You never know if you’re going to discover the next big thing. Even better, when you get back to uni you’ll be able to brag about all the amazing up and coming artists you saw at the Fringe!
The best thing to do is just turn up and go with the flow. You can listen to other people’s conversations in the queues and ask for opinions, or download the Fringe App to see what performances are nearby.
You can filter by type of show, save favourites and create your own Fringe events calendar.
Alternatively, you can read Edinburgh’s local newspapers and arts websites to check out coverage and reviews of the acts.
Here’s a few sites you might find useful: Edinburgh Live, The Scotsman, the Edinburgh Festival section of The List, the Edinburgh Reporter, the Edinburgh Theatre News section of WhatsOnStage and the EdinburghGuide.
Many acts are returners from previous years, which normally means they are of high quality and are pretty much a safe bet.
And, of course, social media offers a good word-of-mouth gauge of how shows are doing. Just get on Twitter and look for the hashtag #edfringe, as well as #Edinburgh and you’re sure to find recommendations or reviews of shows. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Twitter account, and the This is Edinburgh Twitter account are also worth taking a look at.
How do I get tickets?
One way to book tickets for shows is by using the app we’ve already mentioned, or on the Box Office website.
A lot of shows are free of charge, but even in these cases it’s good manners to leave a donation in the performer’s hat or bucket as you leave.
Some shows offer a hybrid model, where you can choose to buy a ticket in advance and guarantee entry, or simply opt to turn up and try your luck. Some are donations only.
Can I take part?
If you’ve got a talent, a flair for making people laugh, or just feel inspired and want to have a crack at joining in with the fun, then go for it!
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is open to anyone who wants to participate and has a venue willing to host them. The Fringe is open access, which means you can take to the streets and perform.
But if you want to take part in a more organised way, you need to go through the registration process, find a venue and set ticket prices. Find out more here.