Edinburgh Festival was a huge success without all the usual litter – Vladimir McTavish

Nearly a week on from the end of the 2021 Fringe, yet Edinburgh city centre is not in the dreadful mess it usually finds itself at the start of September.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 12:30 pm
Sophie Douglas, who played an alien from the planet Hanyana in the Edinburgh Fringe show WeCameToDance, explores the giant kaleidoscope at the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA)

This year’s festival will surely go down as the most litter-free on record. A festival no-one was sure would happen as recently as mid-June of this year.

Even when the green light was given for this year’s Fringe, many had serious misgivings about its potential appeal.

There were concerns that people would be resistant to travelling up to Scotland’s capital city from other parts of the UK. There were also genuine worries that audiences wouldn't want to pack into small, badly ventilated rooms to laugh.

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Happily, it appears that the public’s appetite for live entertainment proved greater than their fear of any potential health danger. For those of us who actually did live shows, 2021 was a bumper year for the Fringe.

I sold out my original run within days of tickets going on sale. I added extra dates which also sold out.

As the programme was around ten per cent of its 2019 peak, demand for tickets was huge, which meant that performers did not need to hand out thousands of flyers. Which meant that fewer of those leaflets were left littering the city’s streets.

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Local performers and promoters, in particular, reaped the benefits with record sales at the The Stand, Monkey Barrel and the Scottish Comedy Festival.

Audiences, on the other hand, came from all corners of the UK. The unavailability of much foreign travel, and fears about the “traffic light” system, meant that English tourists chose Edinburgh as their next-best option to a European holiday. Thankfully, Dominic Raab was not one of them.

As well as being a Fringe without flyers, in 2021 there were virtually no student theatre groups in town, so pedestrians could go about their business on the High Street without hassle.

The only minus point was that the Silent Disco was back, disrupting traffic and other people’s shows by encouraging crowds of people in headphones to sing Bohemian Rhapsody tunelessly at full volume.

How the guy in change has avoided more forceful objections is a mystery to us all...

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