Online shows and upset students: All we know about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2021

Bring on August 6th


With the Edinburgh Fringe Festival having been cancelled last summer due to coronavirus, everyone was holding their breath to see whether the festival would make a return this summer. And for those of you who love the Fringe, it’s good news!

The Festival has been confirmed to return from August 6th until the 30th . That’s nearly 4 weeks of fun for those who enjoy the Festival. And 4 weeks of busy Edi hell for everyone else.

What will the Edinburgh Fringe Festival look like this year?

Performers will be able to register from May 5th and the organisers have said that they are prepared “for a range of scenarios… from socially distanced live events to digital offerings”.

The organisers have already begun implementing these online solutions. They’ve creating a dedicated ‘Fringe Player’, allowing remote audiences to watch productions.

The Fringe normally brings in huge crowds, with over three million attending in 2019, and creating more than 3000 jobs. Crowds and performers attend from around the world, with acts from 63 countries attending in 2019.

However, it is still unclear how many events will take indoors and what social distancing measures will have to take place.

Currently there is expected to be a limit of 400 people allowed outside and up to 2000 indoors.

Fringe venues have expressed their frustration over the lack of financial support from the government if they are told to impose social distancing indoors.

Rowan Campbell, general manager of Summerhall said in April: “We hope to have further urgent and much needed conversations with stakeholders and the government in the coming weeks to make decisions that allow a smaller event for 2021 as well as looking to 2022 and beyond”.

Where will the Edinburgh Festival be?

The Fringe is due to take place in multiple locations across Edinburgh (including The Meadows). The University and EUSA also both hire out lots of buildings on campus to companies like Underbelly, Gilded Balloon, and Assembly.

This has created some justified controversy as some students are upset they might be denied a graduation because of the pandemic but these large-scale events are going ahead on campus. This includes anger that the Edinburgh International Festival is hiring out the Old College lawn to host events in a marquee.

Perhaps if students formed their own theatre group and performed a play called ‘Graduation’, the university would allow them to have an in-person graduation on campus.

Who is confirmed to be at the Fringe so far?

Currently registrations are taking place but some performers and shows have been confirmed. The likes of Daniel Sloss and Craig Hill are already confirmed to be performing.

Additionally, Underbelly have applied for planning permission to put up a Big Top circus tent on The Meadows. However, the Circus Hub is proving controversial with one local residents’ association describing it as an attempt to “temporarily privatise a significant portion” of The Meadows.

Once registration is complete we can be sure to hear of a lot more big names and acts who will be performing. A lot of the public still seem unsure of the reopening of the Fringe, with comments such as, “too soon for me” and “too risky” seen in the Fringe’s Instagram.

However, possibly the most obvious sign that this year’s Fringe will be a scaled back affair is that the iconic upside down Underbelly cow will not be in Edinburgh this summer. Instead, the purple cow will be spending the summer in London.

Whatever happens, the Festival will already be preparing for 2022 as it will be their 75th anniversary.

But I think the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is sure to be great this year, whatever format it presents itself in. And I for one am happy it’s coming back this year.

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