City leader calls for July start of Edinburgh festivals

Edinburgh Fringe 037

Donald Wilson, the culture convener of Edinburgh, has called for a major shake-up of the city’s main festivals to ensure they coincide fully with Scottish school holidays, The Scotsman reports.

The capital’s former Lord Provost has suggested the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe be held earlier in the summer to ensure more families can take part. The overhaul, he told the newspaper, would give the people of Edinburgh more of a “sense of ownership” of the festivals.

Wilson said his proposal should be seriously considered in a move to “deepen and widen participation in the festivals across the city,” read the report.

The idea, said Wilson, aims to expand the events across Edinburgh, help ease the pressure on the centre and spread the benefits of the festivals across the city.

Intense debate

According to The Scotsman, there have been “intense debate among Fringe promoters about moving its dates following reports of a drop in ticket sales in the final week”. The idea of moving the Fringe has found some resistance within those involved.

The report indicated that reluctance to the change is based on the case “it hampers efforts to give schoolchildren access to festival events”. Nonetheless, The Scotsman said it’s understood that the number of Fringe tickets sold to families outweighs those who go on school visits.

In late 1990s a shift was introduced to allow Fringe to ended on the English bank holiday weekend. In 2015 Edinburgh International Festival aligned its dates with the Fringe. Fergus Linehan, its director at the time, said he wanted to capitalise on the “electricity” in the city in August.

Key changes

The film and jazz festivals have also moved its dates from August to earlier in the year in the last decade. The Book and Television festival are amongst events held in August whilst The Visual Art Festival kicks off the week before the Fringe.

The Scotsman reported that a Fringe promoter said: “There is no good reason why the dates could not be changed for next year. There has been a real change in ticket-buying trends over the last week or so.”

Fringe chief executive Shona McCarthy dismissed Wilson’s claims: “There is no compelling case to change the dates at the moment. The argument makes an assumption that young people either go to shows with their parents or with their school. The fact is they do both. However, it is open to any venue to start a show a week earlier or a week later if they wanted to,” the newspaper quoted.