Edinburgh Fringe and Festival cancelled over coronavirus

Fringe chief executive vowed to ‘support’ those who were set to perform at event ‘over coming months’

Jacob Stolworthy@Jacob_Stol
Wednesday 01 April 2020 12:02
Edinburgh Fringe funniest joke award winner Olaf Falafel is funny on camera

Edinburgh’s five annual festivals will not take place for the first time in more than 70 years, it has been announced.

The events, which transform Scotland’s capital city into a hub of culture attended by 4.4m people each year, have been cancelled because of increasing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Edinburgh Art Festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo were scheduled to go ahead in the usual August slot, but organisers have now confirmed this is no longer the case.

“It is with deep sadness that today we announce the cancellation of Edinburgh Art Festival 2020,” director Sorcha Carey said.

“Our decision is taken in response to the ongoing risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to prioritise the safety of our audiences, artists, participants, staff and indeed all those working to combat coronavirus.

“While it has become impossible to deliver a festival this year, we remain fully committed to doing all we can to continue to support our visual arts community during what is going to be a hugely challenging time in the weeks and months to come.

“We hope that it will be possible for galleries, museums and production spaces across the city to reopen their doors in the coming months; and in the meantime, we will work creatively to find alternative ways to share the work of artists with audiences.

The festival spokesperson said the events will take place in 2021.


Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, called the decision “heartbreaking”, adding: “Our thoughts today are with the doctors, nurses, health and social care professionals on the front line, as well as all those affected by this dreadful pandemic.

“Our sympathies too are with the thousands of artists and participants directly affected by today’s decision – we will do everything we can to support you over the coming months.

The five festivals are the second biggest cultural event in the world after the Olympics.

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