How to Work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Shop on the Royal Mile in Scotland, UK

There are so many amazing reasons to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! Finding an Edinburgh Fringe job will be no problem if you’re a keen, hard worker… And you follow this blog post, of course, *wink emoji*.

Firstly, visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at some point in your life is an absolute must. It’s a ‘Bucket List’ experience for sure. Every August for the entire month comedy acts, theatre productions, dance troops and more from around the world flock to the Scottish capital. The city comes alive with creativity, culture and hundreds of thousands of extra people.

– This guide was originally published on 14th July 2017 and has been updated.

Secondly, Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the ENTIRE WORLD. Honestly, take it from me. You would be privileged to spend an entire month living there. The bars, restaurants, nightlife and attractions in Edinburgh are spot on and you’d be so pleased to have a decent amount of time to sample so many. I returned to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2015 and again in 2017 because it’s just SO GOOD.

And finally; you can earn money, gain valuable work experience and make friends in a new place! Working at the Edinburgh Fringe is a great way for University students or young people to earn some money and have an amazing summer in Edinburgh while meeting similar, like-minded people.

So, what are you waiting for? Here are my tips to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and snag the best Edinburgh Fringe jobs!

How to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

How to Work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival | Edinburgh Fringe Festival Jobs |

My personal experience working at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

I worked at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013. I was a Drama Undergraduate and desperately wanted to visit Edinburgh and gain some valuable, relevant experience over the summer. Some of my friends performed in or were part of the crew for a play at the Fringe. That was great for them, they wanted to experience actually being a part of a theatrical production. Whereas I wanted to gain valuable experience at an events venue, at no cost to me, and experience the magic of the Fringe.

I just happened to stumble across the Facebook page of a girl in the year above me at University. Her employment listed ‘Box Office at C venues in Edinburgh.’ Upon further investigation, I saw this was a company in Edinburgh who ran theatres and performance spaces during the fringe festival. After a phone interview, I was on their Box Office team! And then, after an in-person interview, I became their Administration and Operations Assistant.

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How I benefitted from my job at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

No joke, my role at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was essential to me getting hired by a creative agency straight out of University. This was without a doubt the biggest benefit. The thing about Edinburgh Fringe jobs is that, since they often hire University students, venue companies are quite often looking for evidence of passion and not experience.

So, say you want to get into marketing. Your University course might not include any marketing work experience, so it would be beneficial to get some before you graduate. But in the paradoxical world of work nowadays, you need the experience to get experience. Not necessarily the case working at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! I had zero experience in Administration. However, I had worked at a summer camp through Camp America the year before. I could prove I wasn’t afraid of hard work. And, with the undergraduate degree I studied, could prove I loved theatre and the arts. And at 20-years-old, that was enough!

How to Work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival | Edinburgh Fringe Festival Jobs |

What opportunities are there to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

The performance venues/companies are going to be the main Fringe employers. I suppose some bars and clubs will have their demand increase but because venues have bars anyway, the type of work wouldn’t be any different.

In my experience, if you’re wanting seasonal work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, these are the type of positions available at the venues:

  • Bar Staff/Managers
  • Front of House Staff/Supervisors
  • Box Office Staff/Supervisors
  • Duty & Site Managers
  • Street Team/Supervisors
  • Reception Staff
  • Press and Marketing Officers
  • Client Services
  • Technical Staff/Managers
  • IT and Network Support
  • …And lots more!

Experience is entirely subject to the positions available. However, due to the constantly changing requirements of Fringe life, if you’re hired as Bar Staff you could easily end up as a Bar Manager by the end of the month if you prove your worth and requirements of the bar change.

And, if you’ve shown interest in one role you could end up doing that job before the end of the Fringe! I thought I was going to be in Box Office, but when I arrived I was told I could actually get my first choice role.

So many other employees chopped and changed their job roles throughout the month. Obviously, changing roles isn’t something you should expect, but it’s good to be aware that the work at the Edinburgh Fringe is not like anywhere else. Plus, because it’s only a month-long job, some people will definitely quit before the end of August.

Would I need to be available for the whole month of August?

It depends on your position, but most likely. And most C venues staff, especially technical and office staff, were required from the middle of July.

However, you will probably be finished by September. Packing up always takes much less time than getting everything sorted. And most contracts I’ve seen all finish on August 31st at the very latest.

If you know you aren’t available for the entire month, check out Paradise Green for job listings. So far, they’re the only Fringe venue company I’ve found that hire for random weeks and not the whole month.

Edinburgh Castle from the Vennel in Edinburgh, UK
Edinburgh is a beautiful place to live!

Are the hours reasonable?

As you can expect, it will be all hands on deck! At C venues, during the ‘fit-up’ period before the festival begins in July, expect to work every day. We didn’t have set hours, but we were working roughly 8:00-20:00. It’s not as bad as it sounds though because everyone’s working and it’s a pretty exciting time. Plus, the more you work in the beginning the quicker you get the hang of your role!

Surprisingly, during the festival, things do calm down. I worked either 8:00-18:00, 10:00-20:00 or 14:00-00:00 with one day off per week. With other companies, the hours could be shorter but the days off will be fewer. Don’t let this put you off, though. Chances are you’ll go out after your shift with your new friends and make the most of the time you do have. You’re only there a month, after all!

Is accommodation in Edinburgh included?

Accommodation isn’t going to always be included, but I personally recommend you don’t take a job without it if you don’t live in Edinburgh! Especially if you’ve left the job search late. Any cheap living quarters in Edinburgh during the Fringe are like gold dust. If you end up having to organise your own accommodation, be prepared to barely break even at the end of the month. I’ve spoken to companies that pay a living wage but offer no accommodation or sustenance and will be super proud of themselves but you’d have to be so lucky to secure accommodation during the Fringe off your own back and break-even by the end. 

However, if you’ve secured a job early and know people you can rent with, it might turn out to be a sweet deal. It really depends. But, just know finding and organising accommodation in Edinburgh is going to be one of the biggest faffs of your life.

Gilded Balloon Edinburgh Fringe Festival venue in Scotland, UK

What’s the pay like at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Before I start, there’s a lot of controversy around this topic and I can only speak to my experience. I was a 20-year-old student when I worked for C venues and I received free (awful) accommodation as a ‘volunteer’ with a £200 fee. I had absolutely no experience and gained tremendously from my Edinburgh Fringe Festival role. But if I was a 30-year-old trained professional? F*%k that. I’d expect free (decent) accommodation and a proper wage for my skills so I profit from working non-stop for a straight month and a half. That’s something the Fringe as a whole needs to work on.

If you do get your accommodation included, be prepared for your payslip to reflect this. C venues offer all of their seasonal ‘volunteer’ workers £200, no matter what their job was. The inexperienced front of house staff and the events coordinator all got paid the same. It was only top-level duty managers and theatre managers that got paid a wage. And if you don’t get accommodation included, at least be sure you’re paid a living wage like any normal job.

Sometimes it seemed unreasonable and I definitely worked above and beyond my wage and free accommodation benefits, but I cannot deny the experience was worth it. I also don’t deny it sounds exploitative, but you’ve also got to take into account the accommodation costs. Other venue companies do pay more and have better benefits, so I recommend you do your research on every single one thoroughly and ask questions before making any final decisions.

Any perks?

All the tickets for staff at C venues were free! You could only get the tickets just before the show started so you weren’t getting in the way of paying customers but it was still pretty dope. And you could have a plus one! Ding ding ding!

Drinks at all the C venues bars were discounted and drinks at certain times of day were stupidly cheap. Often, we’d have theme nights especially for the staff and we were given two free drinks tickets per week. They were pretty good perks, actually!

From what I’ve seen, the benefits are really similar when you work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in any venue company. Especially when it comes to unlimited free tickets and drinks discounts.

The Space Edinburgh Fringe Festival venue in Scotland, UK

Where do you find work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Ahh, this is the information you’re really looking for. This is a list of all the venue groups that I can think of. There are some smaller ones, but tbh you probably won’t find many positions available at those for out-of-towners so you’re best going with the big fellas.

I’ve linked through to their jobs pages so you can see what’s available this year, in order of preference of who I would work for:

Edinburgh Festivals Jobs seems like a good place to look for different types of work e.g. photographer and kitchen staff.

Sounds awesome! When can I apply?

All the companies I listed start recruiting at slightly different times of the year, and it can change slightly every year.

But across the board, there’s no point in looking for job advertisements until January of the year you want to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Venue companies have only just got over the last fringe at Christmas so it’s never any earlier!

Pleasence is usually first out of the gate and opens applications in January. Assembly and Gilded Balloon start hiring around March, and I think I applied for C venues around March/April. And in fact, I remember hiring a couple of people during the festival at C venues in 2013.

It’s frustrating but maybe set yourself a reminder to quickly check all the websites once a week.

If you’re thinking of applying to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, apply as early as you can. Most of the venue companies don’t have a ‘closing date’ for applications, they hire on a rolling basis. Basically, companies just stop hiring as soon as all positions have been filled. That can suck if you were perfect for a role that’s already been filled, but it does mean you have a good chance of still being hired as something if you’ve left it quite late to apply if they haven’t managed to fill their spots yet.

Good luck finding your dream Edinburgh Fringe Festival job! I hope you get as much out of it as I did!

And that’s my guide on how to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! Have you ever been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? Let me know in the comments below! 

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