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The History of Edinburgh Fringe Festival

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The History of Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Edinburgh Fringe Festival dates back to 1947, when 8 theatrical groups turned up uninvited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival. The Edinburgh International Festival had been created after the Second World War, with the festival aiming to celebrate European culture in light of the destructive war. Despite not being officially invited to perform at the festival, the International Festival allowed these theatrical performers to perform on the 'fringes' of the festival. Allowing the theatrical groups to perform remained in line with the festivals constitutional ethos; that: 'the Society was to take no part in vetting the festival's programme.' This particular line in the constitution remains ever-present to this day.

Popularity grew, with more and more performers following the example set by the unofficial theatrical groups. This prompted action from the organisers, and, in 1958, the Festival Fringe Society was created. The Festival Fringe Society created a central box office, provided information on the performing artists and published Fringe Festival Programmes.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has attracted some luminary icons over the year. Iconic acts include Maria Callas, Rudolph Nureyev, Richard Burton, Emma Thompson, Robin Williams, Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry and Graham Norton. The 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, with organisers utilising live streams and virtual gigs to appease fans.


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