Edinburgh Festival organisers celebrate success of ‘vital’ Fringe

Performers and audiences from around the world flocked to Edinburgh for the event.

Lucinda Cameron
Monday 28 August 2023 15:03 BST
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe ends on August 28 (Jane Barlow/PA)
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe ends on August 28 (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

Organisers have hailed this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe as “one of the most vital and memorable” as it draws to a close on Monday.

The programme featured more than 3,000 shows, with 288 venues hosting a diverse selection of work from Scotland, the rest of the UK and countries around the world.

Artists, arts industry representatives, media and audiences from nearly 170 countries were in Edinburgh for the August event with 2,445,609 tickets issued across the festival.

The themes and issues tackled by artists in the 2023 programme included mental health and wellbeing, disability, queer lives, working-class representation and the climate crisis.

Benny Higgins, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society chairman, said: “The discussions and debates held at this year’s festival have made it one of the most vital and memorable – and one of the loudest conversations was the one around affordability.

“Certainly artists are facing some of the most severe challenges ever, and while the Fringe Society will continue to do everything in its collective power to support artists, this will become harder and harder without finding support commensurate with its contribution to the economy.

“We will continue to make the case for funding, to protect what the Fringe represents – an unrivalled outpouring of creative expression.”

Entertainment was not confined to venues as almost 500 street performers, buskers and street artists performed on The Mound and Royal Mile as part of the Fringe street events.

This year’s Fringe also attracted nearly 1,400 accredited producers, programmers, bookers, talent agencies, festivals and others from 49 countries, who come to Edinburgh looking to find talent and shows.

As part of efforts to improve access and community engagement, 35 local schools, charities and community groups took part in the Fringe Days Out scheme, which offers free Fringe vouchers and Lothian bus tickets to people who wouldn’t normally get to experience the Fringe.

In addition, more than 800 schoolchildren and teachers came to the festival as part of the Fringe Society’s schools outreach work.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “This year’s Fringe has been one that’s felt fresh, brave and energetic, and has sparked joy, discussion and provocation in equal measure, tackling the prevalent issues of our times and looking at them afresh through the creative lens and ingenuity of the performing artists.

People come from all over the world to perform here, to see shows and to commission work. This festival remains a beacon for people to share and discuss ideas – I want to express my heartfelt thanks and admiration to everyone who makes it happen.

“Congratulations to the whole Fringe community of Fringe 2023; we will be relentless in our ongoing work to ensure that the Edinburgh Fringe lives up to its mantra – to give anyone a stage and everyone a seat.”

Next year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will run from August 2 to 26 2024.

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