A small Fringe but perfectly formed for fun - Karen Koren

The Fringe is over for another year and Edinburgh is getting back to normality – or is it?

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 8:00 am
Edinburgh Festival, FRINGE 2021 - The Assembly , McEwans Hall, Bristo Square, The Teviot, Underbelly,

Last year there was no Fringe and that was tough enough, but this year has been the strangest Festival I’ve ever experienced

There were shows – but it was the smallest number of Fringe shows since the mid-eighties, due to the pandemic. We had to abide by Covid regulations, seating everyone in bubbles, santising hands and wearing masks.

The Gilded Balloon got permission to set up an outdoor socially distanced space at Castle Terrace Car Park, we had partners ZOO venues, Traverse Theatre and Dance Base and were supported by the City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Government and Event Scotland.

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We called it Multistory, and The Pitt supplied street food and local brewers Innes and Gunn supplied the beer.

It was a big success, even though there was rain to contend with at the beginning.

However, the second half of August was beautiful. All the wonderful performers were there come rain or shine. We had sold-out shows and audiences enjoyed going to live entertainment again.

It was only a couple of weeks before the Festival started that our venue at Teviot got permission to stage indoor events.

It was hard to get artists to take a risk and come to Edinburgh and do shows again. They were apprehensive to say the least.

They needn’t have been – as all the shows we programmed sold out. We only had two of our indoor venues open and we could only stage up to five shows per day. However, it was a start and great to have live events on again.

Though the restrictions were lifted on 9 August, we had to keep to our social distancing and did not increase our capacities as those who had already purchased tickets expected to be seated apart from others.

Doors and windows were open and fans on for airflow and it made for a much more comfortable experience for performers and audiences.

I expect the day of socially distancing in future Festivals is behind us, although many will remember these last 18 months as hard and maybe we will all remain more cautious in future.