The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (or just the Fringe) is an international theater, music, comedy, and dance festival that runs every August. It’s the world’s biggest performing arts event. Per the program, “2014 will see 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues across Scotland’s capital city.”
The Fringe is my ideal theater experience for several reasons. Everything is relatively walkable, the variety and the quality of the productions is extremely high (with the exception of some lemons, but that’s all part of the experience), and it’s fairly cheap. If you’re used to US theater prices, UK prices even on the West End are a damn revelation. (Holla, £5 Globe standing tickets, and hail, £12 National Theatre day tickets—sing, muse, of limited visibility spots, of the affordable upper upper upper circle!). But the Fringe in particular has an ethos and culture of affordability. Sometimes a famous comedian will go a bit rogue and jack tickets for something up above the £12 mark, but it’s not considered the done thing. Tickets for amateur productions and children’s theater can be especially cheap. There are 2-for-1 days, Friends of the Fringe memberships, and a Half Price Hut. By these and other means, you can thoroughly work down the price tag for your visit. Fringe shows typically last about an hour (though many full-length productions also run), and this produces well-oiled, efficient plays—don’t think of it as slicing Hamlet to ribbons, think of it as an opportunity to produce interesting, fit-for-purpose new work or a really effective production of something more amenable to being condensed.