Organisers of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe have confirmed it will return in 2021 though warned that “much is still unknown” about the exact format of the world’s largest arts festival.

The Scottish annual event, which was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, will run from August 6 to 31 and is preparing for both in-person and online offerings this year amid continued uncertainty amid the pandemic.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, which runs registration, ticketing, listing and support for fringe performers, has announced registration is set to open on May 5 and will be available to all artists and venues to register their shows for the festival.

In addition, registered performers and venues will also be able to access a new online Fringe Player, which will provide a secure platform to host shows. It has been launched this year and is aiming to bring “some festival magic into homes across the world, while providing a secure platform for artists, companies and venues to host their show”.

In addition, registered participants will gain access to all the services offered by the society during August. Tickets will go on sale in early summer.

Registration costs will reportedly be discounted by 25 per cent for 2021 “to help participants make as strong a return as possible, with identical fees for in-person and online performances,” a spokesperson for the society told The Stage.

They said: “Now more than ever, fringe artists and companies need the advice, support and guidance of the Fringe Society and we will be there every step of the way.

“We learned in 2020 that shows, venues and audiences all require flexible information, box office and listings services to help them find each other. Registration fees support our work across a wide range of services, so we’re retaining the current three-tiered structure.”

For artists, a limited run of one or two performances, registration starts at £72 increasing to £153 for three to five performances and £221.40 for six or more performances.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Fringe Society, said in a statement: “We’re delighted to be able to open registration for 2021. Of course, we’re still very much in planning mode as we await further updates from the Scottish Government, but this feels like a hugely positive step in the right direction.

“Through the work being created across the various digital platforms, including the Fringe Player, artists have a brilliant opportunity to reach audiences and communities all over the world. I look forward to seeing how our Fringe creatives use these platforms in 2021 and beyond.”

The Scottish government has announced plans to allow indoor events to go ahead from June with a maximum of 400 seated audience members.

However, social distancing expectations have not yet been unveiled for the June reopening. The current distance requirement is two metres, although venue runners have told The Stage that one metre will be needed to make performances viable.

The news follows the recent announcement that Edinburgh International Festival plans to use bespoke outdoor venues across the city.

Image: David Dixon / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Edited for size