Celebrating 70 years of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This year along with the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Fringe is celebrating its 70th year, but how did it all start?

Once upon a time, in 1947, eight theatre companies decided to join in the fun of the Edinburgh International Festival by simply showing up and performing in some small venues in and around the city (one of the groups actually performed in Dunfermline Abbey). In 1948 playwright and journalist Robert Kemp named this set of performances “the Fringe”.

It’s fun to stay at the…

As the Fringe grew, it began to require some organisation, so in 1951 a group of students from University of Edinburgh used the YMCA (yes – it’s stuck in our head too now) to provide a place for performers to sleep and get some food.

The Fringe growth accelerated and in 1954, the first listing guide was published, detailing roughly a dozen companies that came to the city to perform and in the late 1950s, the Festival Fringe Society was set up. Its aim was to organise and promote the festival in a way that pretty much resembles its purpose today, albeit on a much smaller scale (and with no internet).

Never one to miss a party

In 2011, Virgin Money were delighted to begin a partnership with the Edinburgh Fringe which has lasted 7 years – we take great pride in painting the High Street red and sponsoring the Half Price Hut.

Year by year the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has grown in size, welcoming performances and audiences from all over the world. Check out our article on 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival Stats; it’s a far cry from a few performers at a YMCA!

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