Crowds enjoying a street performer on the Royal Mile © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is here! Anyone popping into our office will have noticed the hum of activity building up over the last few months, as we ensure our Festival properties, their landlords and guests are all set to go.
As you would expect, this is the busiest time of the year for us – and in the last week alone, we’ve carried out 85 flat inspections and moved guests into 57 Festival properties. Not a bad week’s work for our three property managers!
An economic powerhouse
It’ll continue to be all go for the At Home in Edinburgh team throughout August, but little wonder – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest celebration of arts and culture on the planet, bringing visitors to city from all over the world. Last year, over 2.8 million tickets were sold for the 2018 Festival Fringe’s 3,548 shows. These took place in 317 venues across the capital, attracting visitors from more than 150 different countries.
These record numbers are good news for our landlords, and for the city. Speaking at the launch of this year’s festival, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, called the Edinburgh Festival Fringe an “an economic powerhouse”, generating £144 million for the Edinburgh economy and £173 million for Scotland’s economy.
A better place to live
Edinburgh City Council’s annual People’s Survey confirms that it’s not just visitors who are enjoying the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and the city’s plethora of festivals. The latest survey found that two thirds of residents have attended a festival in Edinburgh in the last two years, with 72% believing festivals make the capital a better place to live.
Where it all began
Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe began back in 1947, in the same year as the first Edinburgh International Festival, celebrating the performing arts. Eight theatre companies turned up uninvited to the event, taking over smaller venues in and around the city, with the aim of showcasing their alternative theatre to the festival crowds.
The term ‘Fringe’ was coined the following year, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has gone from strength to strength, now marking its 72nd year. While it has grown in numbers of performers, shows, visitors and venues, the two defining features of the Festival Fringe continue – firstly, the festival is open access, with no selection committee and no invitations to perform issued. This means that anyone can perform, with any type of performance.
Secondly, smaller and more alternative venues continue to play an important role in the Festival Fringe, now alongside the larger theatres. Over the years, performances have been held in churches and halls, lecture theatres and function rooms, bars and pubs and in schools. Even more alternative settings have included a public toilet, the back of a taxi, a double-decker bus and even in the audience’s own homes.
2019 Festival Fringe
This year’s Festival Fringe runs until 26th August, with a record-breaking 63 countries represented across 3,841 shows – with a total of 59,600 performances – across 323 venues. The huge variety means that there truly is something for everyone, whether you want to enjoy some of the big names or be one of the first to check out new talent. Launching the 2019 programme, CEO of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Shona McCarthy, said: “…this year’s programme will challenge perceptions, stimulate conversation, entertain, make you laugh, make you cry and inspire you.”