Many Fringe shows and companies offer discounted or free tickets for schools, educational workshops or creative packs as a part of their Fringe show. We’ve pulled together a list of these offers below.
You can filter this spreadsheet and view offers by cost (some have a cost attached, others are free and some require travel expenses cover), type of school (ASN, Early Years, Primary, Secondary), audience age range, dates, venue etc.
How to use the search filters
In this example, the search results have been filtered for shows that are suitable for secondary schools, for ages 14+, with performances taking place on 16, 17 or 18 August:
Please note this information is as submitted by performers and is not the responsibility of the Fringe Society.
If you’re interested in any of these offers, please contact [email protected] and we will connect you with the relevant company.
Bringing a group of learners to the Fringe can be a daunting thought, but there are hundreds of shows every year that will inspire, motivate and thrill children and young people.
The following guide – available on this page or as a downloadable .pdf – is designed to be a handy resource for schools and teachers planning a visit to the Fringe. It's based on feedback from teachers in secondary, primary and ASN schools who brought classes in 2019, as well as from consultation events with teachers in Edinburgh. While we know that learners from different schools, ages, stages, abilities and requirements have different needs, this guide will give you a starting point to plan a successful Fringe visit regardless of which school you’re from.
‘I loved seeing the delight on their faces; seeing children who are quite quiet and reserved coming out of their shells; seeing them in a different light; seeing them laugh; hearing the excitement in their voices when we were talking about it the next again day. The writing that it generated was fantastic! They wrote enthusiastically, the ideas came tumbling out of them. Just giving them an experience that they might not otherwise have had was just great.’ Linda Grieve, Class Teacher at Craigentinny Primary School
Visiting one of the world’s greatest arts festivals is a culturally enriching experience and grants young people in Edinburgh access to a cultural capital unique to their city. The variety of shows and experiences on offer also allows you, as an educator, the scope to direct the focus of teaching and learning.
Research has shown that access to theatre and drama can boost young people’s academic performance, improve social tolerance and facilitate positive social change.
The pandemic has had numerous impacts across society, particularly for young people’s social skills, development and mental health. The benefits of arts and cultural engagement on young people post-pandemic are plentiful and more important now than ever.
A visit to the Fringe will meet the following Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes, in addition to any you choose to focus on:
I have experienced the energy and excitement of … presenting / performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other people’s presentations / performances. EXA 0-01a / EXA 1-01a / EXA 2-01a
I have experienced the energy and excitement of being part of an audience for other people’s presentations / performances. EXA 3-01b
And, should you choose to discuss the performance after the visit:
I can respond to the experience of drama by discussing my thoughts and feelings. EXA 0-15a / EXA 1-15a / EXA 2-15a / EXA 3-15a
‘There are so many benefits for our young people in visiting the Fringe: it’s fun; experiencing new food; a greater awareness of the arts more broadly and what that has to offer; different career opportunities. Building their confidence: even if they just have to get up on stage, or even walking up the Royal Mile and talking to the performers about their shows is getting them out of their comfort zone, which builds their confidence too.’ Hayley Grisdale, Art and Design Teacher at Gracemount High School
With around 3,000 shows every year, there’s a lot of choice at the Fringe. It’s useful to start by thinking about why you’re bringing your school group to the festival. Are you aiming to provide a cultural experience? Do you want to take them to a show that ties in with a project you’re working on?
Tickets for Fringe shows are available online from early in the year, with more shows added in batches until the full programme is launched in June.
You can use filter settings on our website to narrow down the number of shows – look for the Advanced Search function, shown here in pink:
That will take you to a screen which looks like this:
The filters you might find particularly useful are:
Category and genre: this will allow you to choose the type of performance you’re interested in as well as identify some key themes.
Suitability: each show will have a suggested age range which you can use to ensure they’re appropriate for your learners.
Date and time: there are shows on every day of the Fringe, from morning to late, but if you’re looking to do something within school hours, you can narrow your search to a specific time range.
Special pricing: you can use this filter to find shows with group discounts, 2for1 tickets as part of the Fringe Friends scheme and free shows.
Please note: free shows and street performers only make money through donations. Please be mindful that tipping at the end of the show is expected if you enjoyed it and can afford to. It can help young people’s confidence to tip and talk to performers after the show.
Once you’ve created a filtered list of shows, you’ll have a selection which is much easier to navigate. Depending on the age, stage and abilities of your young people, you may wish to engage them in choosing which show to see. You can arrange support for this with our Learning Team, who may be able to come to your school and facilitate a selection workshop, as well as providing information about the Fringe more generally. If you’re interested in such a workshop, please email [email protected].
‘The children were amazed and so engaged. It was great for me – not knowing the class very well, it was great for me to get to know the children and how they responded to something new. They were so enjoying the atmosphere that I looked around and after 10 minutes of the show I saw they all still had their jackets and bags on, they were so engrossed!’ Norry Leonard, Class Teacher at Victoria Primary School
All Fringe shows are listed in the official programme, which is available from the Fringe shop (180 High Street) and from locations across the city (we provide information on programme collection points on our programme page once all the locations are confirmed). There’s guidance on how to navigate the programme in its early pages.
The programme can be a useful resource for children and young people to explore the Fringe and can also be used as a stimulus for teaching and learning.
You can filter edfringe.com search results for ‘accessibility’, which lists shows with adjustments for people with access requirements, but our commitment to be a truly accessible festival goes beyond that.
Should you be interested in booking shows for learners with access requirements, look for these symbols next to the show listings:
AD Audio description
AE Audio enhancement
LA Level access
WA Wheelchair access
AP Access parking
RE Relaxed performance
BSL Signed performance
‘I think my young people can explore a lot of ideas and concepts they wouldn’t explore otherwise. Our school had trips to a number of shows and they featured themes of mental health, diversity, inclusion, and it’s important for learners to explore these in different ways.’ Emily Bowerman, English Teacher at Tynecastle High School
The Fringe Society has sensory backpacks which are available to borrow (free of charge) for adults or children who find the festival environment overwhelming, to help make your Fringe experience as enjoyable as possible.
Each backpack contains a variety of sensory products chosen to help support various sensory needs, including ear defenders.
‘I’d love to come more often, it was such an enjoyable day. My job as a teacher is to create experiences for my class and this was a wonderful one which will last in their memory. They were happy to talk about it, complete work around it, happy to relive it through pictures and talk about their emotions and how they felt at different times; it was a thoroughly wonderful experience.’ Dan O’Donnell, Class Teacher at Redhall ASN School
There are many ways to book shows at the Fringe – most commonly at the box office, through the Fringe app or through edfringe.com – but for schools and teachers, you’re best to book directly with our Customer Service team. You can reach them at [email protected].
Our box office colleagues can set up your school with an account and order tickets for your chosen show. As the Fringe is fully e-ticketed, you will receive tickets to your email inbox – your confirmation QR code can be shown on a mobile device at your venue.
We can arrange for an invoice to be sent to your school, as long as it’s paid by the end of September.
‘It was great to have the children experience the atmosphere of Edinburgh during the Fringe. While we are a City of Edinburgh school, many children don’t really understand what’s going on in their city, so being there and seeing the crowds, the shows, the performers was just excellent.’ Iain Smith, Class Teacher at Gilmerton Primary School
Once you’ve chosen your show and booked your tickets, it’s time to start planning the rest of your visit.
We recommend using public transport where possible. It’s cheap, convenient, environmentally friendly and easy to use. Edinburgh gets very busy in August and finding space to park your school’s minibus could be challenging. You may have concerns about using public transport, but overall the experiences of the classes who’ve used buses to visit the Fringe have been very positive:
‘I was definitely apprehensive about using public transport. I was worried about the idea of getting them all on a bus – what if there wasn’t enough seats? It turned out to be brilliant actually; it worked really, really well! The buses were so regular which was good for the kids to see and that they can travel up town and then they’re into this amazing world!’ Amanda Reason, Class Teacher at Craigour Park Primary School
If you are travelling by minibus or coach, there’s some parking available on Regent Road and Johnston Terrace. Minibuses that hold up to 12 people can use normal parking bays. The City of Edinburgh Council website provides more detailed parking information.
Lunch or snacks
Depending on the time of your show, you may need to consider time for your class to have their lunch or a snack. It’s worth contacting the venue you’re visiting as they may have a space you can use. The National Museum of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery and Scottish National Portrait Gallery all have lunchrooms, but you need to check with them in advance as they may require reservation. Depending on the weather, there are some outdoor spaces you could also use, including Princes Street Gardens, the Meadows and Holyrood Park.
When we spoke to Fringe-experienced teachers, they gave some good advice with regards to planning:
Plan early: where possible, have the trip planned out in June, so when you come back from the summer holidays there’s less to do.
Factor in time for conversation: going to the Fringe is an exciting experience and your children and young people will want to talk about it!
Use your visit to produce work: our teachers all had ideas about what they would do back at school after the visit, but encouraged colleagues to recognise when children and young people were inspired in different, unexpected ways and let them direct their own learning.
Involve your senior leaders early: make sure that the senior leaders in your school know what you are doing, why, and what benefits you see for your learners.
Involve your young people: find out what they know about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and why Edinburgh is known as the festival city. Find out what they’re interested in and if there’s anything they want to see already.
‘Don’t be scared… trust that you can take a group, you won’t lose anybody, and that it can really open their eyes to things that are right here.’ Emily Bowerman, English Teacher at Tynecastle High School
One of the most important aspects of your visit will be to appropriately assess the risk involved in bringing your group to the Fringe. The teachers who have visited the Fringe have told us that, at first, the size and scope of the festival was a concern, but they hadn’t encountered any difficulties that couldn’t be managed by thoughtful planning:
‘We didn’t experience any of the possible risks or dangers that we were concerned about! Don’t worry about it the way I did because there was absolutely no need, just go on and enjoy it!’ Amanda Reason, Class Teacher at Craigour Park Primary School
When you select a show on edfringe.com you can view all of the details including times, dates, venues, age suitability and any content warnings. These warnings may include distressing or potentially triggering themes, strong language or swearing or information about late arrivals, readmittance or phone recordings. Make sure you’re aware of these as well as the age suitability when bringing your class to a show, as all shows will vary on their warnings and additional info.
‘We built our trip to the Fringe into our maths work as the title of the show lent itself to activities around geometry, angles and degrees. This is on top of the fact that they now have such a richer experience of the wider world and that it’s something which is attainable to them – it’s not just on a screen, it’s there available to them.’ Hazel McKay, Class Teacher at Gilmerton Primary School
A visit to the Fringe can be enhanced with wrap-around resources before and after the visit to focus teaching and learning in a specific field, theme or topic.
This is easily done in Higher Drama, for instance, where learners are assessed on their critical response to live performance. For primary schools, additional support needs (ASN) schools and other secondary year groups and subjects, that focus can be decided by the educator with, or without, learner engagement.
‘This visit is the start of a whole-year project; it’ll help them with their critical response assessment in May. We’ve collected production photographs, shared notes, found professional reviews and sorted it into content they’ll need for their exams. So we made notes while it’s all fresh and we’re using this play as a template on how to write an essay.’ Laura Thomson, Curriculum Leader at Craigmount High School
To help schools and teachers with this, we’ve created some teaching and learning resources to help you back at your school. These cover a range of activities and curriculum areas and are easily adaptable to suit the needs of your learners.
If there are any resources or additional information you’d like, please let us know by emailing [email protected].
‘At the moment, we’re writing postcards to the company who are based in Korea. The children wanted to visit them, which created an impromptu lesson on geography using Google Maps, looking at distance, time and cost of travel. The writing of postcards though maintains the fun aspect they all enjoyed and they were excited to come back and write.’ Norry Leonard, Class Teacher at Victoria Primary School
Matchmaking: we can match schools with performing companies who offer workshops and performances in schools during the festival.
Fringe in Schools: after the Fringe, we work with teachers to commission a small selection of free workshops led by Fringe artists for ASN schools in Edinburgh.
‘After the summer holidays, I asked my drama classes, “Who here saw a Fringe or festival show?” And a lot of them didn’t know what I meant, didn’t know what was happening in their city. So, if you can take them to a show now, say, “Look how easy it is!”, if you can map it out for them and support them to see something, the hope is in years to come that they will be able to do that independently and see the magic of theatre.’ Laura Thomson, Curriculum Leader at Craigmount High School
We asked Fringe-experienced teachers their top tips on choosing a show and developing effective teaching and learning around it. This is what they said:
Choose something exciting that your class or group will enjoy.
A trip to the Fringe should be a fun and exhilarating experience, so choose something that will be enjoyable as well as relevant to your teaching and learning.
Ask for recommendations of venues, companies and shows from parents and colleagues.
They may have seen a great show or know of a great space.
Do some research into the venue – when you’re choosing a show, you’re also choosing the venue.
There are venues all over Edinburgh and they all have different facilities and offers. If you still have questions after looking on edfringe.com, why not contact the venue directly?
Prepare your class before the trip with photos, videos and activities, and reiterate expectations of behaviour.
Remember, for some children and young people, this may be their first visit to the Fringe; spending some time establishing what you’re doing, where you’re going and what you’re seeing can help to reassure and excite your learners. You can find more on edfringe.com.
Contact companies directly and see if there are any options of wrap-around enhancement.
Once you know what you’re seeing, why not see if there’s anything extra you can do with the company – you never know! The company name is always included on the show listing at edfringe.com and it’s relatively easy to Google a company for contact details (though many include their website on their show listing too, as well as their social media links). If you still need assistance, please email [email protected].
The community ticketing initiative (CTI) provides free Fringe tickets for people in and around Edinburgh who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend, with tickets generously donated by Fringe artists and companies. It was previously known as the Children and Young People (CYP) ticketing scheme, and expanded in 2023 to allow eligible children and adults to take part.
We’re open to involving new organisations in this project as long as we have capacity, including schools. If your school has a hub or group which supports young people who match any of the eligibility criteria below and would like to be part of CTI, please get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Eligibility criteria for CTI 2023
CTI tickets are intended for people who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend the Fringe.
Ticket recipients must live in Edinburgh or the Lothians and fall under one of the following categories:
at risk, vulnerable, marginalised or isolated
experiencing additional barriers to attending the festival.
Children or young people may be at risk, vulnerable, marginalised, isolated or experiencing additional barriers to attending the festival for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to) situations where they are:
in need or receipt of social care interventions
affected by substance misuse by themselves or a family member
affected by imprisonment of themselves or a family member
living in areas of multiple deprivation
affected by poverty
affected by mental health issues of themselves or a family member
affected by disability or impairment of themselves or a family member
experiencing domestic violence
at risk of, or experiencing homelessness
refugees, seeking asylum or have No Recourse to Public Funds
experiencing isolation or loneliness.
These examples have been provided by EVOC as a guideline; it is not an exhaustive list.