Lack of money should be no obstacle to partaking of the cultural feeding frenzy in Edinburgh in August. Each year there is an array of events and free shows on the Fringe or at other Edinburgh Festivals.
However, in 2021, the Edinburgh Festivals are presenting slimmed down programmes in response to Covid-19 restrictions.
At the launch of Fringe 2021 there are 121 venues. Of these, 97 are what we traditionally think of as venues - in-person venues in the city of Edinburgh. The other 24 are what the Fringe calls online "venues", but the word is used loosely here.
The Edinburgh International Festival is presenting free, on-demand online shows, including concerts from this year's festival, starting in August and October and November.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival has its free (ticketed) Film Fest in the City
Free Shows at Edinburgh's Festivals (2019)
Many of these events were replaced by an online event or cancelled due to the pandemic.
- Edinburgh Festival Carnival Held on the opening weekend of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival in mid-July, a Parade down the Mound to music, dance, and kids' performances in the Gardens.
- The Edinburgh International Festival's's large scale, opening event is one to look out for.
- The Free Fringe (See Venues) Hundreds of free shows over August
- Fringe on the High Street Street performers busking every day on Royal Mile.
- Virgin Money Fringe on the Mound Free shows outside the galleries.
- Fringe 2 For 1 Deals Look out for these in first week (8th or 9th August). Buy two and take someone for free!
- Virgin Money half Price Hut From 10th August, hundreds of tickets are available for half price.
- Edinburgh Art Festival Many exhibitions and events are free.
- BBC live casts of many weel-kent faces and voices from the small screen and radio at the Beeb's Fringe base.
- Edinburgh Mela Multicultural summer festival.
- Edinburgh Book Festival's Unbound Series late, live, and free spoken word, music-infused literary.
- Edinburgh Festival Fireworks The Edinburgh International Festival's grand finale.
There are two rival organisations that have taken on the mantle of the "Free Fringe": Laughing Horse and Peter Buckley Hill's Free Fringe. The events are usually in pubs or clubs and if you like the show you can put money in a donation bucket at the end. Sadly, beer is not free as well.
Free tickets are usually best booked in advance through the Fringe Box Office or venue.
Peter Buckley Hill's Free Fringe (website)
PBH venues are typically in bars and pubs. The former "Spirit of the Fringe" winner, PBH's Free Fringe returns with more comedy, spoken word, theatre, and live performances.
The Laughing Horse - Free Fringe Festival (website)
Free Fringe fest shows under the Laughing Horse banner, cover the gamut of live performance - comedy, cabaret, live music, theatre - in multiple venues.
Pay What You Want Shows
Bob Slayer pioneered the "pay-what-you-want" ticket price with his Heroes at Fringe 2013. You can book and pre-pay for tickets in advance or just turn up and pay what you want (into a bucket) at the end of the show.