Thousands of free “days out” to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are to be given away as part of a global celebration of the event’s 1947 origins.
The festival is joining forces with 26 charities across the city to give away travel passes and box office vouchers for shows.
The £50,000 initiative, announced ahead of the first World Fringe Day on Tuesday, is the first of its kind to be staged by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.
It is working alongside a city bus company to “gift” the charities up to 100 sets of passes and vouchers each.
The mass giveaway is aimed at ensuring thousands of people get to sample the event during its 70th anniversary in August. Fringe staff will be touring the city to distribute the 70th birthday “gifts”.
The Fringe was famously instigated in 1947 by eight companies who turned up to perform after being refused entry to the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival.
The Fringe Days Out project, which has been developed in partnership with Lothian Buses, will see charities allocated a mix of single days out, which include an all-day travel pass and a £12 box office voucher, or a family trip, for two adults and up to three children, which will include £60 worth of vouchers.
The initiative comes weeks after umbrella body, Festivals Edinburgh, announced plans to recruit a team of volunteers from across the city to help provide a better welcome to visitors.
Other surprise giveaways are expected to be staged in the heart of the capital as a “thank you” to the city for seven decades of support for the event.
A spokeswoman for the Fringe Society said it had been working with the selected charities for some time. She added: “We know that once we get people to the Fringe and they’ve sampled it they want to come back once they know how easy it is to get involved. But we also know that there are financial barriers for some people.
“We want people who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to engage with the Fringe to come along and enjoy it for the first time.”
Fringe chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “World Fringe Day promises to be a truly international celebration of creativity that will transcend national boundaries, demonstrating the power of arts and culture to bring people together.
“Here in Edinburgh we are focusing on saying thank you to the city and people of Edinburgh for supporting the Fringe over the last 70 years. We work to improve access to the Fringe wherever possible with the aim of making it the most inclusive festival in the world.”
Charities involved include the WHALE Arts project in Wester Hailes, the Citadel Youth Centre in Leith, the North Edinburgh Arts centre in Muirhouse and the Canongate Youth initiative. Capability Scotland, the Lothian Autistic Society, education and arts trust Out of the Blue, Young Scot and Artlink are among the other beneficiaries.
Lothian Buses communications director Gaynor Marshall said: “Our partnership will enable lots of families and individuals to travel to and from Fringe venues across the city, at no cost to themselves.”
Kate Griffin, learning and participation manager at WHALE Arts, said: “We’re thrilled to receive Fringe days out as part of the World Fringe Day celebrations.”