Edinburgh Festival Fringe performers urged to check accommodation costs before signing up for festival

Organisers of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are warning performers and companies not to commit to this year’s event until they have checked the cost of staying in the city.

Potential participants are being told to “scope out options” by the Fringe Society, which has just opened registration for this year’s event, before they sign up. The society is urging performers and companies not to be “afraid” of venturing outside the city centre.

They are being encouraged to experience “the real Edinburgh that most tourists miss” by heading for quieter neighbourhoods in the city.

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Potential participants are also being advised not to rush into signing up for this year’s Fringe, consider visiting as an audience member to get a sense of its scale or even think about “testing” work at smaller fringe festivals elsewhere.

Performers from the show Boom! during the Underbelly's launch at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The Fringe Society has warned companies and performers that finding somewhere affordable to stay in the city has become a “big issue” for some participants in recent years.

Eight leading venue operators warned the soaring cost of accommodation was the biggest risk to the future of the Fringe as last year’s event drew to a close.

A subsequent Fringe Society survey found 87 per cent per cent of performers felt “affordability of accommodation and living costs” would be a barrier to their future participation.

The Fringe Society warned in October that new legislation on short-term letting was likely to affect both the availability and affordability of accommodation in 2023, although the Scottish Government agreed last month to delay the need for a licence until September.

Fringe Society chief excutive Shona McCarthy. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

However, Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy says both affordability and availability of accommodation continued to be a “clear concern” among artists intending to perform this year.

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In a bulletin for Fringe participants, the society said: “Securing somewhere affordable to stay during the Fringe has become a big issue for some artists in recent years, so we'd recommend scoping out accommodation options before committing to bringing a show this year.”

The Fringe website states: “Finding a place to stay is a big consideration when bringing your show to the Fringe. It’s also going to be one of the biggest expenses. You’ve got to balance the limitations of your budget against proximity (or decent transport links) to your venue; you may also need enough room to accommodate members of your company and, potentially, any props, costumes or equipment you need to store.

"Edinburgh is a small city, and travel times and distances may appear greater than they actually are, so don’t be afraid to venture outside the city centre.

Circus street artist 'Reidiculous' performs for the Fringe crowds on the Royal Mile. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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"This comes with many benefits – not only is it usually much cheaper, but you’ll also benefit from quieter neighbourhoods, parks and green spaces to reflect and recover, plus more space and larger properties for larger groups.

"You’ll get to experience the ‘real’ Edinburgh that most tourists miss, and you’ll generally still be within a 15-20 minute journey from the centre, whether travelling on foot, by bike or bus.”

Ms McCarthy said: “Our core remit is to support artists at every stage of their journey with the festival. Accommodation availability and affordability continues to be a clear concern for artists intending to perform at this year's Fringe. We encourage them to consider accommodation options prior to committing to bringing a show.”