Edinburgh Festival Fringe marks 75th anniversary with programme launch

Now in its 75th year, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will feature over 3,000 shows from almost 60 countries.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe returns to full scale for first time in two years following Covid-19 pandemic Neil Hanna
Fringe Festival: For the first time in two years the Fringe will be held at full scale.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe launched its official 2022 programme on Thursday marking the first time in two years that it has run at its full scale.

This year’s programme, which coincides with the festival’s 75th year, features work across 3,171 shows from 58 countries, with themes tackling some of the most topical issues in the world today.

Visitors can expect to see an eclectic mix of theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals, opera, cabaret, variety, children’s shows, spoken word, exhibitions and events during the festival.

This year’s Fringe brings together many well-known names as well as emerging talent from Scotland and further afield.

New for 2022 is an extension of the popular Fringe Street Events, which will invite audiences to enjoy performances in new locations, including St Andrew Square and St James Quarter.

In addition, Fringe Central – the festival’s home from home for Fringe artists, journalists, venue operators, creative industries, and visiting curators – is moving to St James Quarter for the first time. 

In previous years the dedicated participants’ hub has played host to over 1,000 national and international media representatives, alongside 1,200 arts industry professionals looking for shows to book as well as co-commissioning and touring opportunities.

Launching the 2022 programme, Shona McCarthy, the chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said it reflects “the regenerative nature of a cultural icon that has weathered many storms since its inception” and represents “a glorious return to fully live shows in one of the greatest annual celebrations of culture and creativity in the world.”

She added: “As a festival which offers anyone a stage and everyone a seat, we can’t wait to welcome artists, writers, staff, crew, venues, producers, creatives, residents and audience members together this August, after two years of uncertainty and reinvention.

“We are hugely thankful to all our sponsors and supporters – those who have backed us through the tough times and those who have come on board to ensure the Fringe returns to its full stature in its celebratory 75th year.

“Venues, producers and artists have created an amazing array of performances and events which dig into some of the most topical themes being discussed in the world today. This is an opportunity for us all to laugh, cry, celebrate and be entertained together, living in this one incredible moment and looking ahead to the future of the Fringe and the many momentous moments yet to come.”

Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day, said: “This is a very special year for the Fringe, not only does it see the return of a jam-packed programme of artists and performers from across the globe, it is also marks 75 years of this remarkable festival. The Fringe’s varied programme promises to impress, entertain and educate audiences of all ages with performers visiting the capital to showcase their work and meet new audiences.

“This year also marks the fifth year of Fringe Days Out where people have the opportunity to enjoy the Fringe. Through partnerships with schools, community groups, charities and organisations Fringe vouchers, bus tickets and additional support is provided to offer residents the choice to visit the festival. I would encourage everyone to explore this year’s programme– it’s not to be missed.” 

Culture minister Neil Gray added: “To support the return and delivery of Fringe 2022, the society has received £1.58m through our PLACE Resilience Fund with £305,000 of this going towards maintaining the society’s arts industry and media services and supporting the Fringe street events.

“The remaining £1.275m in the fund has gone to venue producers so that they can continue to programme work of the highest quality. This benefits artists, workers and audiences by protecting jobs and increasing local employment as well as promoting accessibility, sustainability, diversity and inclusion.”

This year’s event sees new partnerships with Johnnie Walker, which recently opened a multi-million pound experience in the heart of Edinburgh, and social media platform TikTok, which will provide ‘taster stages’ for Fringe artists to perform snippets of their shows, giving festivalgoers a free taste of the performance. 

TikTok will livestream from these stages, giving artists the opportunity to connect with new audiences around the world. 

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, said: “The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a fantastic platform for artists, performers and communities to connect, enjoy and share memorable experiences.  It is also a key part of Scotland’s portfolio of world-class events and having the Fringe in our calendar further strengthens the country’s position as a leading events destination and the perfect stage for events.

“The launch of the 2022 programme is a wonderful milestone as we celebrate 75 years of this amazing event and return of an international cultural icon. Whether it’s comedy, music or theatre, now is the time to plan and enjoy experiences that stir the emotions and elevate in-the-moment moods.”