The 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe came to a close yesterday (Monday), with over 2,445,609 tickets issued across the event, an 11% increase on the previous edition.
Some 288 venues hosted a selection of work from Scotland, the UK and further afield, with 67 countries represented overall. There were performance showcases from 17 different countries, joined by nearly 500 street performers, buskers and street artists.
This year’s Fringe attracted almost 1,400 accredited producers, programmers, bookers, talent agencies, festivals and more from 49 countries, who arrived to discover talent and shows to provide touring and onward opportunities for artists.
Organisers also launched a new Fringe app for this year, to help audiences discover some of the 3,553 shows featured in the programme. Since its launch in July, the app has been downloaded almost 80,000 times, with over 400,000 tickets issued through it.
Some of the themes and issues tackled by artists in the 2023 programme included mental health and wellbeing, disability, queer lives, working-class representation and the climate crisis.
The Fringe Society has also made a commitment to community engagement and access. Initiatives included loaning out 320 sensory resources for autistic children and adults, BSL (British Sign Language) interpretation of the street events in partnership with Deaf Action on three dates, as well as a dedicated Changing Places toilet located near George Square.
In 2023, the number of access bookings increased by roughly 35% compared to 2022, with 56% of Fringe shows being accessible to wheelchair users.
Some 35 local schools, charities and community groups also took part in the Fringe Days Out scheme, which offered free Fringe vouchers and Lothian bus tickets to those who would not normally be able to experience the event. Additionally, over 800 schoolchildren and teachers came to the festival as part of the Fringe Society’s schools outreach work.
“This year’s Fringe has been one that’s felt fresh, brave and energetic, and has sparked joy, discussion and provocation in equal measure, tackling the prevalent issues of our times and looking at them afresh through the creative lens and ingenuity of the performing artists,” said Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.
“People come from all over the world to perform here, to see shows and to commission work. This festival remains a beacon for people to share and discuss ideas – I want to express my heartfelt thanks and admiration to everyone who makes it happen. Congratulations to the whole Fringe community of Fringe 2023; we will be relentless in our ongoing work to ensure that the Edinburgh Fringe lives up to its mantra – to give anyone a stage and everyone a seat.”
Just under a quarter of million people attended the Fringe prior to yesterday afternoon’s shows that were still yet to take place. Some 33% of attendees came from Edinburgh, 15% from the rest of Scotland and 10% from overseas. Over 800,000 tickets were issued to ticket-buyers with EH postcodes, and 611 shows were performed by Edinburgh and Lothian residents.
Benny Higgins, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society chair, added: “The discussions and debates held at this year’s festival have made it one of the most vital and memorable – and one of the loudest conversations was the one around affordability.
“Certainly artists are facing some of the most severe challenges ever, and while the Fringe Society will continue to do everything in its collective power to support artists, this will become harder and harder without finding support commensurate with its contribution to the economy. We will continue to make the case for funding, to protect what the Fringe represents – an unrivalled outpouring of creative expression.”
Next year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will take place from August 2-26, 2024.