The Fringe story dates back to 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival.

The Edinburgh International Festival was an initiative created to celebrate and enrich European cultural life in the wake of the Second World War.

Not being part of the official programme of the International Festival didn’t stop these performers, they just went ahead and staged their shows on the fringe of the Festival anyway, coining the phrase and our name – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Since the dawn of this spontaneous artistic movement, millions have flocked to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to produce, and to enjoy art of every genre. 

Year on year more and more performers followed their example and in 1958 the Festival Fringe Society was created in response to the success of this growing trend. The Society formalised the existence of this collective of performances, provided information to artists, published the Fringe programme and created a central box office.

Its constitution was written in line with the ethos that brought these theatre companies to Edinburgh back in 1947; that: the Society was to take no part in vetting the festival’s programme.

To this day that policy remains at the core of our festival and we’re proud to include in our programme anyone with a story to tell and a venue willing to host them.