Working At The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Her Story: Working at the Fringe

For as long as I can remember, each August my family and I have been making the hour-long commute into Edinburgh to experience the uniqueness of the city during August. During the month, four different festivals are held in the city: The International Festival, The Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Military Tattoo, and the International Fringe Festival. This year, after visiting annually, I decided to go behind the scenes and spent the month working in the box office of the Fringe Festival.



The Fringe and the International Festival were celebrating their seventieth birthday this year. Originally started in 1947, the two festivals were created to bring Europe together after the divisions of the previous war. It was the first time performance art became accessible to a whole new group within society, as Edinburgh opened its doors to performers and audiences from all over the world. However, there was a group of performers that were not allowed to perform as part of the first international festival. They decided to perform anyway, on the fringe of this first festival. This festival has grown over the years, and this summer I was selling tickets to over 3,400 shows. The Fringe society itself has grown into a global organisation, with the biggest festival remaining in Edinburgh.

Working at the Fringe this year was amazing. Sure, the 5:45 alarms to get the train in to Edinburgh for an 8:45 shifts were not a highlight, but working at the box office gave me an opportunity to immerse myself in the Edinburgh environment for a whole month, and that is not something I would ever want to give up. I honestly cannot think of another major city that spends an entire month having a massive party. Every space is taken over with performers, singing, dancing, joking, and performing magic. The city develops a feel that I have yet to experience anywhere else.



For me, the real highlight of the month was the people that I got to meet. There were customers from all over the world, some who had travelled across oceans just to experience the Fringe, and their enthusiasm was infectious. Behind the desk however, the staff I got to work with were incredible. There were people from all over the world that would come in each morning, enthused and ready to have a laugh. Every lunch break we would laugh about the shows we had seen the night before, and plan to see more the next night. It’s funny, but after spending one month, working long shifts, right next to people, but you become somewhat close!


As a politics student, I was not blind to the significance of celebrating the seventieth birthday of a festival created to bring together Europe, as the UK government was in Brexit discussions. However, for one month, it did not seem to matter as much. Edinburgh in August is all about coming together, experiencing awesome shows, having your breath taken away, and getting caught up in the atmosphere of it all. I enjoyed every minute, and feel extremely lucky to have been able to experience that beautiful city during its magical month!


Photo: and emilie’s own