Fringe street theatre acts get green light to return to the Royal Mile and The Mound

Dedicated space for street theatre acts will be created on the Royal Mile and The Mound when the Edinburgh Festival Fringe returns next month.

Street performers have been a familiar sight on the Royal Mile since the 1960s.

Theatre companies, dancers, musicians, acrobats and mime artists are expected to be back in their traditional spots after official outdoor performances were backed by the Scottish Government and the city council.

They have also agreed to provide one-off funding to the tune of £170,000 to help ensure new crowd management arrangements and Covid hygiene measures are in place at the main performance spots.

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Street artists, buskers and companies keen to appear are being urged to register in advance to get timed slots to help manage the number of performers on the street at the same time.

Parliament Square has been lined up for outdoor Fringe performances next month. Picture: David Monteith-Hodge / Photograp

Shows will be allowed to go ahead for nine hours each day until 8.30pm during the full run of the Fringe.

Plans for the festival, which is due to get underway officially in under a fortnight, are still taking shape to the late relaxation of Covid restrictions in Scotland. However at least 460 shows are currently due to be staged across 87 venues registered with the festival’s official box office.

The Fringe Society, which normally manages the spaces, has brought in Edinburgh-based firm Unique Events, who are already working on the film festival’s outdoor events, to help ensure the safe return of street performers.

Although there will be dedicated space for performers on the Royal Mile, where cafes, pubs and restaurants have been able to extend outdoor seating areas, the biggest shows will be staged in a pop-up arena in Parliament Square.

Fringe performers have been given the official green light to return to the Royal Mile and The Mound next month.

Under Scotland’s existing Covid rules, one metre physical distancing should be maintained between groups of friends and relatives meeting outdoors. Although the next review of restrictions is due on 3 August, three days before the Fringe gets underway, no further easing is expected until 9 August.

Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “It’s always incredible to see Edinburgh’s historic streets transformed by live performance and I’m thrilled that the cobbles will come alive with creativity once again this August.

“Our absolute top priority will be making sure these events are as safe and secure as possible, for Fringe-goers and performers alike.

"Covid mitigation plans are built into everything we’re doing, and we will always work to the latest government guidance to ensure audiences can enjoy this programme of world-class outdoor entertainment safely this August."

Unique Events directors Al Thomson and Penny Dougherty said: “We’re thrilled to be working with the Fringe Society to ensure the safe return of the city’s street events for both audiences and performers.

"The High Street is the beating heart of the Edinburgh Fringe, recognised around the world as the home of Fringe street performers.

"As a local company, we’re immensely proud to help deliver this for the city, continuing our successful Edinburgh festival partnerships and producing free cultural events for both residents and visitors.”

Donald Wilson, culture convener at the city council, said: “Live performance and street theatre are part of the city’s cultural DNA and we’re very proud to support the safe return of the Fringe next month.

"It will be fantastic to see the city’s streets hosting exciting entertainment again and a real tonic for all of us who’ve sorely missed the fun and variety of Edinburgh at festival time.”

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