Fringe Street performer

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

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is the organisation that underpins the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The founding principle at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is to be an open access festival that accommodates anyone with a desire to perform and a venue willing to host them. No single individual or committee determines who can or cannot perform at the Fringe.

The Fringe Society is the custodian of the Fringe’s core values of open access and freedom of expression.

The Fringe Society has three core objectives:

  • Provide support, advice and encouragement to all participants.
    The Fringe Society supports and encourages anyone who wants to take part – all the amazing artists, producers, venues, arts industry professionals and members of the media. From choosing a venue to creating a successful marketing campaign, the Fringe Society is on hand all year round with one-to-one tailored advice, events, facilities and online resources.
  • Assist the audiences who come to Edinburgh to navigate what’s on offer.
    The Fringe Society provides ticketing through a centralised box office, offering tickets to every show on the Fringe, and a wealth of information via the official Fringe Programme, website and mobile app. We continuously improve and expand our services to ensure the best possible experience for Fringe audiences.
  • Celebrate the Fringe and what it stands for all over the world.
    The Fringe Society markets the Fringe in its entirety – locally, nationally and internationally – to participants, the public, media and arts industry to retain its position as the world’s leading arts festival. As well as delivering a high-profile annual marketing and media campaign, the Society works closely with media outlets all over the world to maximise publicity for the Fringe. 
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society staff

The Fringe Society is a registered charity which relies on both the support of sponsors and partners and the generosity of our Angels, Patrons, Friends and supporters.

Continuing to deliver and develop our core aims of supporting participants, assisting Fringe audiences and promoting this wonderful festival to the rest of the world requires the support of many individuals and organisations.

We ask you to join us in supporting this creative endeavour and ensuring that the Fringe remains a platform for the arts to develop and thrive.

Visit the support us section of the site to find out more.