It’s a question I’m often asked. My first Edinburgh Fringe was in 1992. And it cost me nothing. Zero. Zilch! Other than beer and food, of course! And I wasn’t COMPLETELY happy about that!
I feel a bit click-bait about this, but if you know me, you’ll know I’ve never been as commercial as I should be. I’ve also only recently realised that I’m actually very experienced when it comes to the Edinburgh Festival having been there most years since 1992.
So, how much does it cost? The short answer is it can be hugely expensive. This year, 2022, ironically, post-lockdown, perhaps more than most! Accommodation, particularly, has rocketed. But it doesn’t have to be. If you are an artist reading this, the first question you need to ask yourself is – WHY do Edinburgh? We all kinda know the answer. Probably everyone you’ve ever seen in comedy on British TV was ‘discovered’ in Edinburgh. The whole theatre and TV industry decamps to Scotland for the festival in August. But don’t let the idea of fame and fortune be your only motivation. It’s a sobering fact that the average audience in the Fringe is four. Yep, four people. I’ve been to productions where I’m the only person in the audience!
It’s also worth clarifying what the Edinburgh Festival is. It’s actually a number of different festivals. The Fringe was a radical reaction to the very posh International Festival started after the Second World War. Which was a Very Good Thing! But then, 75 years ago this very year, a bunch of Oxbridge type students (I think) decided to ‘ambush’ the Posh Festival and be ‘alternative’. I put these words in quotation marks, because what was then the Fringe has now become the biggest open arts festival in the world.
So, should you go? Maybe. Are you doing Comedy? Look at the Free Fringes. There’s a couple of them. You have to do your own door-keeping and I’m not sure they’re so good for drama, but let me know if you disagree. It’s no frills, pass the hat around afterwards, and you may not make your student accommodation rent (oh, and by the way, in spite of the madness of the Scottish Government changing the rules this year, try and get student accommodation for August. It’ll cost more than a Chelsea flat, but less than the £10.5k I was quoted for a 3 bed flat this August!!)
And, mainly, expect nothing, but have fun!