Race against time to find new home for double-decker bus Fringe venue

The creator of one of the most unusual venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is facing a race against time to find it a new home for the event’s 75th anniversary.

Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 5:24 pm

A converted double-decker bus which has been a fixture of the Fringe since 2015 could be missing this year due to building works at its previous base in the Potterrow area.

The Blundabus has been a lynchpin of the "pay what you want" model at the Fringe which has allowed audiences to book tickets in advance to secure entry or instead make a donation at the end of a show.

But its return has been thrown into doubt just four months before the start of the Fringe after it emerged that the council-owned site where The Blundabus has been parked will be unavailable due to repair work on a neighbouring housing development.

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The Blundabus has been one of the most unusual venues at the Fringe since 2015.

Promoter Bob Slayer is desperately seeking a new site for both The Blundabus and its sister SpiegelYurt tent – which have capacities of 45 and 55 respectively – amid warnings that the entire Fringe programme planned for the two venues is in jeopardy.

The news has emerged as venues are preparing to announce hundreds of new Fringe shows this week.

Slayer, a previous winner of the Spirit of the Fringe Award at the festival, said the two venues played a crucial part in keeping down the costs of appearing at the festival for up-and-coming acts and performers.

Slayer said: "We’re obviously frustrated that the work on the building next to our site wasn’t sorted out over the last two years, but we can’t do much about that now.

"Some new, interesting, weird and wonderful acts have already been booked for us this year by Lucy Hopkins.

“A couple of people at the council are being really helpful in trying to find a new site for us, but we need somewhere central so we’re still in the thick of it.

"The bus and the yurt have always worked well as an oasis in the middle of the industry-focused, commercial Fringe."

“The main thing about pay-what-you-want is that it really keeps the costs down for acts, especially for marketing and PR. It allows people to come along to a show and then talk about it – it really encourages word of mouth.

"It just makes the Fringe a lot more affordable. If your show does really well you can be selling out by the end of August and actually have some money to cover the huge costs of accommodation, which is just getting more and more expensive.”

Meanwhile it has emerged that one of the successful cabaret shows in the history of the Fringe will be returning for a run this summer at the Circus Hub.

The Olivier Award-winning Australian variety show La Clique, which was last staged in the Famous Spiegeltent on George Street, will be moving to Underbelly’s venue on the Meadows, 18 years after first wowing Fringe audiences.

Underbelly's line-up also includes another Olivier Award-winner, cult “punk cabaret” outfit The Tiger Lillies, who will be performing in Bristo Square.

The Pleasance line-up will include South Africa’s top ventriloquist Conrad Koch and Spitting Image impressionist Jess Robinson.

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