First Edinburgh Festival Fringe tickets available as over 170 shows revealed
More shows to be announced weekly, as the world’s greatest celebration of arts and culture returns in person and online this August
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is delighted to announce that the first set of shows for the 2021 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will be available to book at edfringe.com.
Tickets for over 170 shows will be released at 12pm today, with more programme details set to be announced weekly in the run up to the Fringe (6 – 30 August 2021).
This year, for the first time ever, the programme features an exciting range of both online and in person shows, with theatre, comedy, music, dance, musicals, variety, visual art, events and more represented.
In addition to ticketed shows, we’re delighted to confirm that the Fringe’s world-famous street events will be returning this August. More information on this, and our programme of participant and arts industry support, will be announced next week.
The Fringe is a remarkable feat, with a continually developing programme of activity. As we gear up to the start of this incredible festival, more shows will be announced on a weekly basis.
More detailed information on registered shows can be found below, along with previews of future announcements from the likes of Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Dance Base, Pleasance, Laughing Horse Free Fringe Festival, C venues and Zoo.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said: “After the year we’ve all had, it brings me an indescribable amount of joy to see Fringe shows going on sale. Fringe operators and artists have been working tirelessly to make this Fringe not only possible, but as safe, accessible and engaging as it can be.
“Things will, of course, look a little different this year. But embracing the unknown and turning it into something magical is what the Fringe does best. I’m excited to see the ways that digital platforms are being used to create exciting, accessible work, and I’m inspired by the way producers and artists have adapted to the ongoing restrictions to bring live performance back to our lives.
“There’s still work to do, and with the situation ever-changing, we’ll be updating the programme and ticket site weekly. I’m proud of the resilience of our Fringe community, and we’re excited to make this festival the very best it can be.”
How this year’s Fringe will work: online, in-person and on-demand shows
This year’s Fringe will look a little different. In 2021, audiences will be able to access a wide range of amazing Fringe shows through socially distanced in-person events, scheduled online performances and on-demand digital shows. Tickets and information for all kinds of registered Fringe shows -live, online, paid and free -can be found at edfringe.com.
In-person shows: Registered live, in-person performances taking place at various outdoor and indoor venues must comply with City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Government covid-related regulations.
At time of writing, one metre social distancing will be in place (having come into effect from 19 July), masks should be worn indoors and regular hand washing and clear ventilation is strongly advised. Many Fringe venues are operating outdoors in 2021.
The Scottish Government has advised that regulations could lift on 09 August (though this is contingent on covid levels and the continued vaccination roll out in Scotland and is subject to review).
The Fringe Society will be updating audiences and artists regularly on what changing restrictions mean for in-person performances at the Fringe.
Online shows: There will be two kinds of online events available this year: scheduled and on demand.
With scheduled shows, audiences can buy tickets as they would to a traditional in-person event. Shows will have a dedicated start and end time and are treated as an ‘appointment to view’ event.
For on-demand shows, audiences can buy tickets to watch at their leisure.
Some online shows will have a viewing window (where the content will be available to watch for a set amount of time). Detailed information about how each individual online event is viewed is clearly available at the point of booking.
Fringe Player and other online platforms: Audiences can view Fringe shows via the brand-new Fringe Player. Available viaedfringe.com, this bespoke digital platform offers audiences an exciting new way to engage with Fringe content.
The player will be accessible to audiences from 06 Aug, with captioning built in. Both on-demand and scheduled online shows are available on this platform.
Where other platforms (such as Zoom, YouTube and Vimeo) are being used to host online work, information on how to access these is clearly provided at the point of purchase.
Online shows will be available to watch from August but can be pre-booked from today.
Tickets and programme: This year and in keeping with reducing contact during in-person interactions, all events will be e-ticketed and shows will be listed online, as there won’t be a printed programme this year. Audiences will be able to attend shows without using paper tickets. More information on ticketing can be found on edfringe.com.
Shows: More detail on a representative number of select shows can be found below. This is not an exhaustive list, and full details of all Fringe shows announced this week can be found on edfringe.com.
Access at the Fringe
This has been a challenging year, and a lot has changed about the way live entertainment is presented. But our commitment to making the Fringe accessible will always be a priority.
The Fringe Society provides free a personal assistant ticket for anyone who needs it. You can register for this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also provide a bespoke access bookings service on the phone or in-person by appointment.
This year, we are also continuing our sensory backpack scheme for autistic people, to help make the Fringe experience as enjoyable as possible. Each bag includes a fidget spinner, earplugs, water bottle, stress reliever and a social story. These items are designed to help users relax and overcome stressful or intense situations. This year, to keep things as safe as possible, we are sending the bags out to key partner organisations who will distribute them to their users.
We continue to work hard to connect the Fringe to the people of Edinburgh through our Fringe Days Out scheme and are delighted to be able to continue the scheme this year.
So far, the opportunity to visit the Fringe has been given to 9,399 people from over 30 charities and community groups across Edinburgh.
This year we are delighted to extend the project to include performers going out to local community groups. More information will be available on our website shortly.
This year’s Made in Scotland programme features an imaginative and thoughtful theatre programme. Amongst these is MOVE at Traverse @ Silverknowes Beach: a performance about migration, collective grief and communal healing (03-07 Aug in person; 24-31 online).
At Summerhall Secret Courtyard, tickets are available for Trevor Lock’s participatory comedy show Community Circle (21, 24, 26, 28 Aug) and new work We Are Each Other (22, 25, 27, 29 Aug) – described as ‘Trevor’s new attempt at making a thing that only some people will like.’ Also at Summerhall (and also part of the Made in Scotland programme) is Mamoru Iriguchi’s Sex Education Xplorers (S.E.X.), which takes a time-travel ride through the evolution of sexes, celebrating our diverse gender identities and sexualities (06-08, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 Aug).
At The Brunton at Musselburgh Racecourse, you can catch productions of two classic plays: Treasure Island (14 Aug) and Much Ado About Nothing (13 Aug). Both are performed outdoors, and rugs and cozy clothing are encouraged.
Available via Summerhall Online, as british as a watermelon is an exploration of artist mandla’s rae’s fragmented asylum and migration memories. Told through poetry and storytelling, this work of autofiction asks questions about belonging, trauma and forgiveness (06-29 Aug).
Also at Summerhall Online, 2019 Scotsman Fringe First Award winner Eva O’Connor is presenting Mustard (16-22 Aug) – a darkly comic play about heartbreak, madness, and how condiments are the ultimate coping mechanism. O’Connor will also bring her new piece Afloat (06-29 Aug), set during a climate apocalypse in Dublin. PrimeCut returns with 2018’s My Left Nut (06-29 Aug) -the true story of a Belfast boy growing up with no father to guide him through and a giant ball.
On FringePlayer, there’s a two-woman retelling of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (06-30 Aug).
There’s a wealth of theatre to be found at Online@theSpaceUK, including Agave vs the Lion from Flying Solo! Presents, which was inspired by Euripides’ The Bakkhai (06-29 Aug).
There’s a wide programme of live stand-up at the Corn Exchange this August. Acts include Craig Hill (05-08 Aug); Daniel Sloss (05-08 Aug, 12-14 Aug) and Andrew Maxwell (27 Aug). Tickets for Mark Nelson (05, 12 Aug) and other household comedy names will also be released soon.
The Grand Final of the 33rd So You Think You’re Funny? will take place at Gilded Balloon Teviot (26 Aug). Semi-final shows are available to watch via Zoom throughout the month.
Long-running improvised comedy group, the Improverts, can be found at theSpace @ Symposium Hall (06-28 Aug). Meanwhile, at theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall, Colin Thomas presents Trust Me, I Was The BBC Doctor, which details his 25 years at the BBC, and asks the audience to decide if he should be a national treasure (23-28 Aug).
Set after India’s landmark decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2018, Rajesh and Naresh at Summerhall Online is a Queer romantic comedy for the modern age (06-29 Aug).
Original comedy is also available on Fringe Player, including A Frickin Crazy Year from Austrian observational comedian Alice Frick (26-27 Aug).
Throughout August, Nothing Ever Happens Here gigs are taking place at Summerhall’s Secret Courtyard, with confirmed acts including Meursault (07 Aug); Stanley Odd (14 Aug); Kapil Seshasayee (15 Aug); Siobhan Wilson (26 Aug) and Withered Hand (27 Aug).
Little Sparta are presenting an instrumental performance of their latest album Lost Boat Party at Dovecot Studios (06 Aug), and Dougie McLean will appear live at The Brunton Theatre (14 Aug). Later in the month, Chrissie Hynde is performing four stripped back shows at Queen’s Hall, featuring a selection of Bob Dylan covers (22-25 Aug).
Semi-Toned: A Study in Burgundy at theSpace @ Symposium Hall is a mystery-themed show combining music and comedy (16-28 Aug, not 23); while in the same venue, The Carole King and James Taylor Story is a nostalgic look at the careers of two musical legends (06-28 Aug).
ABCD’AIRS, Le Renard, is part of the French Institute’s programme, and will see four French musicians perform a range of music, from Rameau to Kurt Weill (06-30 Aug).
At Online@theSpaceUK, Destroying Demons: Songs for Cello and Carnatic Violin features South Indian melodies blended with electronic sound effects and virtuosic improvisation (06-30 Aug). Also part of the programme is Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience – featuring music from Ensemble Mik Nawook, comprising an MC, soprano, winds, strings, piano, drums and a turf dancer (14-30 Aug).
Featured as part of the Made in Scotland programme, Simon Thacker presents the world premiere of Pashyanti on Guitar is at Summerhall Secret Courtyard, as well as on demand via Fringe Player. Thacker is a Scottish composer, classical guitarist, improviser and ensemble leader whose music draws on a deep immersion in diverse cultures. (11, 15, 20, 22, 25 & 29 Aug).
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus
At Novotel, award-winning flamenco guitarist and composer Daniel Martinez joins forces with TuFlamenco to deliver authentic flamenco music and dance (06-29 Aug).
Summerhall Online has a wide range of shows as part of the Taiwan Season, including Fighters, which features a fusion of hip-hop and contemporary dance set to a folk-techno soundtrack (06-29 Aug); The Back of Beyond, which charts the cycle of life from birth to death and rebirth (06-29 Aug); and ai~ sa sa, which offers a contemporary spin on tribal customs. It’s performed by Tjimur Dance Theatre: the first contemporary dance company dedicated to Paiwan culture in Taiwan (06-29 Aug).
Also at Summerhall Online, The Receptionists is a physical comedy show about customer service by two Finnish female clowns (06-29 Aug); while in Dance EP, multidisciplinary artist DK FASH takes us on a journey of fused styles and genres via a compilation of conceptual dance short films (06-29 Aug).
Zip Zap Circus School Trust are bringing Moya to Fringe Player (06-30 Aug). This acrobatic art film uses traditional circus and indigenous dance to revisit the history of cultural art forms and explore themes of brotherhood, fraternity and race.
The Hare and the Tortoise is an interactive show for babies and toddlers at Stockbridge Church (23-28 Aug). In this show, which can also be enjoyed online, a professional violinist and cellist play a selection of familiar and new classical tunes especially for little ones.
In the same venue, Wriggle Around the World (23-29 Aug) sees the story of the Gingerbread Man illustrated by music. There’s a chance to play and sing along to well-known songs with instruments provided. For babies and toddlers, with an online option also available.
Cat in (Re)boots is a family show, telling the story of Puss in Boots with kindness, fraternity and diversity, while exploring anti-racism. (06-30 Aug). Available via French Institute in Scotland Online.
Outta the Books is a new musical on Fringe Player set in the 2D world of books and featuring unsung fairytale heroes (06-30 Aug).
Exhibitions and events
Assembly is hosting the Edinburgh Food Festival in George Square (23 Jul-01 Aug).
Throughout the Fringe, Auld Reekie Tours are offering a series of award-winning underground and outdoor walking tours, frequenting Edinburgh’s Old and New Town, as well as its legendary underground city.
Dovecot Studios is home to Archie Brennan: Tapestry Goes Pop! (06-30 Aug). This major retrospective explores the work of Brennan: a tapestry artist and Edinburgh native.
At Dundas Street Gallery, contemporary Edinburgh artist Davy Macdonald showcases a new collection of abstract, conceptual and fine art oil paintings inspired by the ancient standing stones of Callanish (20 -30 Aug).
Show announcements still to come
The landscape for live events has been incredibly uncertain for the last few months. The positive news that restrictions are easing in Scotland was announced just last week, and following on from that, many operators and artists have happily been able to progress with their Fringe planning.
The Fringe is nothing if not creative and adaptive, and even when faced with massively reduced timescales, Fringe artists and operators are still getting ready to announce new and innovative work.
As we all keep working to put on the best Fringe we can, we’re excited to see more shows being announced over the next five weeks.
The Fringe Society will be announcing more tickets and shows on a weekly basis. Look out for more details on the following:
- Army @ The Fringe intends to return from 06-22 Aug with a varied programme of in-person events including theatre, stand-up and illusion from a host of local and UK artists.
- Assembly Festival will be running two sites and three venues from 23 Jul-29 Aug, including the Palais de Variete spiegeltent and an outdoor stage in George Square Gardens. In person and digital shows will be announced in the coming weeks.
- C venues will be launching C arts, an online programme of independent international creative work across all genres, including theatre, dance, music, cabaret, spoken word, visual and performance art, film and video. The programme will include on-demand and live-stream productions, interactive and interdisciplinary performance, talks, workshops, and shows and events for all ages.
- Dance Base, Scotland’s National Centre for Dance, will be presenting a series of digital dance experiences and live shows for children and families in its Grassmarket studios. These will include digital shows and installations throughout the building, as well as in-person events with Barrowland Ballet and Buff & Sheen. There’ll also be a digital dance channel as part of ZOO TV, featuring Iconnotations: a live stream and on demand performance by Matthew Hawkins & Red Note Ensemble at Greyfriars Kirk. The full Dance Base programme will go on sale 15 July.
- Gilded Balloon, ZOO, Traverse Theatre and Dance Base will reveal a programme of work at MultiStory –a new outdoor venue from the four Fringe operators. Shows will be announced from 12 Jul, with tickets on sale from 15 Jul via edfringe.com and multistory.scot
- At Gilded Balloon Teviot there will be a programme of live shows featuring Scottish-based comedy and theatre performers. Shows will be announced from 12 Jul with tickets on sale from 15 July at edfringe.com and gildedballoon.co.uk/tickets
- Just the Tonic will soon be announcing a series of in-person shows, running from 06 -28 Aug
- The Laughing Horse Free Fringe Festival will return with a limited programme of shows at its Counting House Hub, The Three Sisters and Hanover Tap. For the first time, they will be adopting a ticketed pay-what-you-want model to keep everything safe and controlled for social distancing at the venues. Alongside this, there’ll be a programme of online free shows.
- PBH’s Free Fringe will be staging both in-person and digital shows throughout August. There will be 16 stages with many old favourites returning. A provisional programme will be announced in the first full week of July.
- The Scottish Storytelling Centre is set to announce eight Fringe shows, with their programme running from 06-30 Aug.
Johnnie Walker prize giveaway
We’re delighted to be teaming up with our good friends at Johnnie Walker again to offer audiences the chance to win amazing prizes when booking tickets for this year’s Fringe.
To be in with a chance of winning, ticket buyers simply click on the Johnnie Walker banner in the email booking confirmation, follow the onscreen prompts and they could win a fantastic prize including Johnnie Walker cocktails, Fringe vouchers and a tour of the much-anticipated Johnnie Walker Princes Street, opening soon.
The competition will run from 01 July to 30 August 2021, terms and conditions apply.
2021 artwork and merchandise
Inspired by our 2021 murmuration theme, and working with Edinburgh-based lino cut artist Maria Doyle, we’ve created a new line of merchandise. Using bird murmuration imagery above Edinburgh’s distinctive architecture, this year’s theme celebrates the thousands of amazing individuals who together create this awe-inspiring and ever-changing festival.
The new range has everything from an official 2021 souvenir programme notebook, to mugs and T-shirts, and we are delighted to be working with artist Maria Doyle on a limited-edition range of original hand-carved lino-cut prints.
Sponsors and supporters
As a charity, the work of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society would not be possible without the valuable support of our partners, sponsors and funders. We are delighted to be working with Johnnie Walker for the third year running as our official whisky partner.
We are excited to be partnering with the newly opened St James Quarter, and Crowdfunder through our FringeMakers fundraising platform, supporting Fringe artists and venues with vital fundraising efforts. This will be launched in the coming weeks. We would like to thank Lothian Buses for their continued support of our Fringe Days Out programme.
We are grateful for funding through the PLACE Programme, a partnership between the Scottish Government -through Creative Scotland -the City of Edinburgh Council and Festivals Edinburgh; Scottish Government for Made in Scotland through the Festivals Expo Fund -managed through Creative Scotland -and the continued support of the City of Edinburgh Council. Thanks also to Scottish Government for funds from their Get into Summer campaign.
We are grateful for funding from the Pivotal Event Business Fund, the SCVO Adapt and Thrive programme, and the UK Government to enhance our digital capabilities.
Our thanks also to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Pump House Trust and the Turtleton Charitable Trust.
Our thanks also to our Fringe Angels, Patrons, Friends and supporters whose passion and generosity made a real difference this year.