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2020 Edinburgh Festivals cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak

Edinburgh Festivals fringe

The 2020 Edinburgh Festivals will not be going ahead this summer, it has been announced today (April 1).

The Edinburgh Art Festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo have all been cancelled as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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It's the first time in over 70 years that the events will be held in August.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said: "It’s heart-breaking that the Fringe and our sister August festivals will not take place as planned this summer. However, having taken advice and considered all the options, we collectively believe this is the only appropriate response.

"The safety of participants, audiences, local residents and indeed everyone connected to our festivals will always come first. Our thoughts today are with the doctors, nurses, health and social care professionals on the front line, as well as all those affected by this dreadful pandemic. Our sympathies too are with the thousands of artists and participants directly affected by today’s decision – we will do everything we can to support you over the coming months.

"Culture brings out the best in us. It gives the marginalised a voice, it shapes and reshapes how we think of ourselves and, crucially, it unites us. Since their inception in 1947 the Edinburgh festivals have existed to champion the flowering of the human spirit and, in the face of this truly unprecedented global emergency, we believe that this spirit is needed now more than ever."

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director, Edinburgh International Festival added: "We are hugely disappointed to announce this cancellation but given the current outlook we believe it is the correct decision. We recognise that Edinburgh’s festivals play a very important role in the cultural, social and economic lives of our city and country, and this decision has not been taken lightly. Our thoughts are with all the country’s key workers and we hope that we can celebrate your heroic efforts when this awful pandemic has passed.

"The Edinburgh International Festival was born out of adversity – an urgent need to reconnect and rebuild. The current crisis presents all at the Festival with a similar sense of urgency. Work begins straightaway on a 2021 Festival season that will boost both our spirits and our economy.

"As we observe our essential social distancing we can, I hope, look forward to being back together soon: sharing brilliant music, theatre, dance, literature and art from the greatest creative minds of our time. Until then, thank you for all your good wishes and keep safe in the coming months."

Council Leader Adam McVey and Depute Cammy Day, commented: "This was a profoundly difficult decision – leaving a massive gap in our capital – but clearly it was the right one. Our thoughts are very much with all those fantastic artists, writers, performers and organisations who were working so hard to prepare for another busy festival season.

"The most important consideration is the health of our residents and the safety of everyone in the city. We’re all working closely together as a city and internationally with the common purpose of protecting each other, whilst taking up our shared responsibility for planning towards our recovery.

"With that in mind, we’re looking at every feasible option to help to sustain our key sectors, including the festivals, and have committed to honouring all grant payments due to our cultural partners for the current year, and to the repurposing of these, as required. We’ll do everything we can to assist our world-renowned cultural sector to remain at the centre of the city’s identity going forward.

"We’re incredibly proud to be known as the world’s Festival City and must never forget the positive contribution our festivals make to our lives, bringing art to Edinburgh in a way no other city enjoys. We’ll continue to work with all of our citizens, colleagues and stakeholders to do everything we can to make sure we come through 2020 and look forward to again bringing the world to Edinburgh and Edinburgh to the world for our summer festivals in 2021!"

Organisers have said they will be refunding all participant registration fees, as well as refunding the Fringe tickets and Friends memberships purchased to date.

Alternatively, you can donate or convert the ticket value to a gift voucher. By donating or by converting the ticket value to a gift voucher, customers will be supporting the Fringe Society and Fringe artists.

Picture Credit: Flickr/Raymond McCrae

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