Festival Timeline

Claire Sawers jogs down memory lane with some landmark Festival moments

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This article is from 2009.

1947

The Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Art launches with a two-fingered salute to Hitler and co with a liberal declaration that art has no frontiers.

1950

Edinburgh Military Tattoo launches.

1958

Festival Fringe Society is formed to provide an official programme of all Fringe shows with a box office.

1959

A total of 19 groups perform in the Fringe.

1960

Jonathan Miller, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Peter Cook unveil their satirical revue, Beyond the Fringe.

1967

The play Futz by Rochelle Owens, creates controversy with its story of a man’s love affair with a pig and is labelled by the press as ‘Filth on the Fringe’.

1972

Tom Conti appears in a play called The Black and White Minstrels at the Traverse, and uses the word ‘fuck’ 296 times.

1978

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival launches.

1981

The first Fringe Sunday attracts 40,000 people to the High Street and the inaugural Perrier Award is won by Cambridge Footlights with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Tony Slattery and Emma Thompson among the cast.

1983

Edinburgh International Book Festival launches, with a total of 120 authors including Alasdair Gray.

1989

In cahoots with Arthur Smith, Malcolm Hardee phoned The Scotsman with a five-star review of his own show, which was duly printed the next day to Hardee’s delight as he slapped quotes on billboards.

1990

An Archaos member makes the tabloids for fighting in Iraq rather than appearing in Edinburgh. But it was a PR stunt.

1991

EIF director Frank Dunlop dismisses the Fringe as a ‘third-rate circus’.

1992

Steve Coogan wins the Perrier and Denis Leary upsets the moral minority with No Cure for Cancer.

1995

Edinburgh Mela launches, celebrating Edinburgh’s South Asian communities, and Jenny Eclair becomes the first solo woman to win the Perrier.

1997

Fringe celebrates its 50th anniversary.

2001

Pianist Andras Schiff storms off the Usher Hall stage mid-performance because of mobile phones while the Gilded Balloon has its last August on the Fringe with the iconic Cowgate venue being destroyed by fire four months later.

2002

Steven Berkoff, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins contibute to the central Fringe theme of 9/11, playwright Anthony Neilson brands audience members ‘cowards’ for walking out of Stitching.

2005

Festival of Politics launches.

2007

EIFF has its last August slot and Sean Connery pulls out of his Festival of Politics appearance after details of an awkward line of questioning are leaked.

2008

The Fringe experiences some ‘teething problems’ with its box office and Sean Connery keeps his date at the Book Festival, undoubtedly buoyed by his status as cover star of this very publication.

This article is from 2009.

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