The Free Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival

The Free Fringe was started on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1996 at it’s original venue, The Footlights and Firkin by Peter Buckley Hill with his comedy show Peter Buckley Hill and Some Comedians.

Disheartened by what he saw as unreasonable hire charges for venues and high ticket prices for the public, PBH (as he is more commonly known) tried a new model for putting on shows. Instead of paying for a venue and charging for tickets, there should be no hire charge and free entrance for everyone. If the audience like the show, they put a voluntary donation in a bucket at the end.

Fortunately, a lot of people seem to like this model, which is why PBH’s Free Fringe is now the biggest producer at the Edinburgh Festival, with over 440 shows and 7,800 performances in 2014 and the total rising every year. That’s why our programme of free shows (“The Wee Blue Book”) has become essential reading for any fringe-goer.

The venue makes money from increased drinks sales, the performer goes away several thousand pounds less broke, and visitors get to see far more fantastic quality shows than they could ever have imagined previously.

It’s fair to say that the Free Fringe has totally transformed Edinburgh, and now attracts big comedy names, produces award winners and is the most dynamic thing to happen to the festival since the beginning of the Fringe.