01 April 2020
BSL interpretation

Just a few months ago, the idea of Edinburgh without the Fringe and our sister festivals would have been totally unthinkable; now, like so many other aspects of our day-to-day lives, we must pause and take stock in the face of something far bigger. 

Our hearts go out to the doctors, nurses, health and social care professionals on the front line, to everyone working to keep the country going, and to those who have been directly affected by this pandemic. Your courage in the face of adversity is an inspiration to us all. 

My thoughts too are with the many thousands of artists, writers, producers, reviewers, venues and backstage crew whose careers have been put on hold over the past month or so. We know today’s decision will be a difficult one for many, but please know that we will continue to be here for you and will do everything we can to support you in the weeks and months ahead.

Today’s decision that the Fringe will not go ahead as planned was not taken lightly. We have spent the past month listening to a broad cross-section of Fringe participants, as well as to government, healthcare professionals, residents and many more; however, in light of present circumstances it was unavoidable. Public health must and always will come first.

We are working hard to mitigate the impact of this decision on Fringe artists and audience members. Today we are committing to refunding all participant registration fees, as well as refunding the Fringe tickets and Friends memberships purchased by our audience members. We are also offering participants who have already paid the alternative of rolling their show registration forward to the 2021 Fringe to cover an equivalent show listing. Our thanks in particular here go out to our sponsors and partners, without whose long-term commitment to the Fringe none of this would have been possible. 

Financially this has not been straightforward – as the small charity that underpins the Fringe we receive very little public subsidy – but we believe that offering refunds is the right thing to do and will turn this around as quickly as possible. There will also be an option to donate all or part of your purchase to support artists and the work of the Fringe Society, but this will of course be entirely optional. 

Whilst the Fringe and its sister festivals may not be able to provide a stage in the same way as before this summer, we are committed to working with artists and creatives from Edinburgh, Scotland and across the world to find new ways of uniting people under a Fringe umbrella. It’s too early to say what this will look like, but we are confident that as a collective we can find a way to reach through the walls that currently surround us and inspire, cheer and connect. 

The performing arts have an important role to play in providing a prism through which to process and understand the multiple traumas of this pandemic. Art has always helped shape and reshape how we think of ourselves, and will help now to pull through the threads that unite us as human beings in a globally shared experience.

From its earliest beginnings in 1947, the Fringe has provided a totally uncensored platform for artists from all backgrounds, cultures and perspectives to tell their story and shape their own worlds. As we try to adapt in the face of an all-encompassing global emergency, this spirit of shared storytelling and open dialogue feels more important than ever. 

We look forward to seeing you in Edinburgh in 2021. In the meantime, look after each other and stay safe. 


How was the decision made? 

Today’s decision that the Fringe will not go ahead as planned was not taken lightly. We have spent the past month listening to a broad cross-section of Fringe participants, as well as to government, healthcare professionals, residents and many more. We have been in constant discussion with our board and stakeholders, and while there were a range of opinions and options to consider, public health must come first.

Will the Fringe go ahead in 2021? 

Yes. Based on the information currently available, we believe the coronavirus outbreak will not extend into next year, so should not stand in the way of the 2021 Fringe. We will take our lead from official guidance and continue to plan for the 2021 Fringe with the health and safety of our participants and audiences in mind. The dates for next year are provisionally set as 06 to 30 August. 

Will I get a refund for the tickets I have purchased?

Yes, we will be contacting all customers who have purchased tickets for 2020 Fringe shows in order to arrange a refund over the next few weeks. We will also be offering the option to donate or convert the ticket value to a gift voucher. By donating or by converting the ticket value to a gift voucher, customers will be supporting the Fringe Society and Fringe artists.

Will I get my show registration fee refunded?

Artists will be given the option to either receive a full refund of their registration fee or roll it over to cover an equivalent registration for the 2021 Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme. We will be in touch with all registered participants as soon as we can regarding this. 

My venue say they might put on shows at the Fringe if the situation improves. Is this true?

The Fringe Society is a small charity that exists to support Fringe artists and audiences and therefore does not have the power to cancel the festival as a whole. The Fringe remains an open access festival, which means the Fringe Society does not decide who can and cannot put on shows. We are advising all venues and companies to follow the latest government and public health advice, and will continue to provide support and guidance for all participants as the situation progresses.  

How can I support the Fringe?

  1. Choose to donate the cost of your tickets
    If you’ve purchased tickets you can directly help the artists whose shows you’ve bought tickets for. By choosing this option the artists, creatives and venues that make up this incredible festival will receive the funds as part of our regular payout process.
  2. Opt for a gift voucher
    If you’ve purchased tickets, opting to have these reissued as a gift voucher will offset the cost of transaction fees (around 16p per ticket) and will help us to mitigate the financial impact of the Fringe not going ahead as planned.
  3. Make a donation
    The Fringe Society is a charity and your support during this time is invaluable to help us continue to make the Fringe the greatest celebration of arts and culture on the planet. Donations, no matter how big or small, will provide much needed support for the Fringe Society in the weeks and months ahead.

    Donate to show your support

The Fringe Society want to do everything we can to support Fringe artists and partners during this time. 

Updates on public health advice for coronavirus can be found on the NHS Inform website, and a free helpline has also been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816. This page will also be updated regularly as the situation develops.

Financial support and funding for artists

Additional listings of support funds and grants can also be found on these sites:

Travel advice

Mental health and wellbeing

Creative communities