The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with over 3,000 shows. This year, Playbill will be going to Edinburgh in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along this summer as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
The Edinburgh Fringe can be daunting for newcomers and experienced attendees alike. With more than 3,000 shows on offer, venues across the city, and a bevy of cultural offerings in between, Playbill is here to help you make sense of it all in the lead up to the 2024 Edinburgh Fringe, when Playbill will be launching the inaugural Playbill FringeShip, the official "Floatel" of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The ship will be docked in the port of Leith—guests will be able to stay on the ship in the evenings, while in the daytime, a free shuttle will transport them to Edinburgh to view all the theatre their hearts desire.
A crucial part of the FringeShip experience is Ghost Light Global, a team of Fringe experts who will be providing custom show itineraries for VIP guests of the ship. These curated schedules (which will include shows, parties, dinners, and behind-the-scenes access) is perfect for attendees who need a little help figuring out what to see from the massive show list that Fringe has to offer. Says Ghost Light co-founder Molly Morris: "Playbill is going to create the most exceptional experience on the ship. And we're going to do everything we can to make sure you have the most exceptional experience off the ship."
Consisting of Morris and Chris Crouch, Ghost Light Global has more than 25 years of collective Edinburgh Fringe experience as producers, punters, and patrons. Together, they have made their passion for the festival into a business—curating travel for individuals, families, groups, and theatre organizations from around the county to the world’s largest arts festival in Edinburgh.
"It was the craziest thing that I had experienced in my life!" says Morris, thinking back on her first Fringe. "It's like magic. After that, I had to go every year." When she came back from her first Fringe, she couldn't help but pitch the festival to others in her circle, wanting to share the wondrous experience with others. That was how Ghost Light Global was born.
Ghost Light Global is a personal passion for Morris. She is also a theatrical producer—her Broadway credits include Come From Away and Diana.
Morris brought the idea for Ghost Light to longtime friend, Crouch, who works in real estate. It took a long while for Crouch to warm up to it, especially because he had never been to the Fringe. "It took Molly, I'd say, five years, of going and talking about it to me every year," admits Crouch. "Finally, I said I was gonna give it a shot. Like Molly, I have not missed a Fringe since from the very first time I went...Now, even my husband comes, and HE hasn't missed a year since his first!" It's clear from the pair's infectious enthusiasm that once you go to one Fringe, you want to go every year.
The pair estimate that it took them 10 years of attending the Fringe to really wrap their hands around its sheer size and scope. Suffice it to say, they've done their homework on the festival. "I want everyone who comes with us to not know confusion," explains Crouch of their ethos. "If you're on the ground by yourself, it takes years of going to really grasp the complexity of it all, to really navigate your experience. What we do is make sure people can come home after their first trip and they feel like they got it."
Adds Morris: "We want them to go home feeling like they weren't overwhelmed by it, feeling like it wasn't some behemoth. With us, it is actually very manageable and digestible and exciting and fun."
Ghost Light Global describes themselves as "curators of bespoke travel for patrons of the arts," an intentionally open phrase that welcomes in a wide range of arts lovers eager to experience creative offerings outside of their home base. While Fringe is a large (and thriving) part of their travel planning business, they also facilitate theatre excursions to London, Paris, and New York—these include not just show-going but exclusive access behind the scenes that typical theatre-goers would not receive.
"We have such a heart for the arts and such a heart for theatre, that it just made sense to make sure they're all developing together," Crouch shares. "We don't curate for the maker of the art, we curate for the people who appreciate it. We make sure that they get to see a broad range of everything the Fringe festival has to offer. You can't see 3,000 shows, you're gonna see 20 or 25 in a week, and that's if you hustle. We make sure that when you leave, you feel like you saw a broad range of what's on offer, and that you don't feel like you've missed out. The FOMO [fear of missing out] is real at the festival, and we help to make sure you get in the door of as many different things as possible."
Through the partnership between Playbill and Ghost Light Global, both companies hope to help more arts lovers experience the magic of the Fringe, welcoming in anyone who may have been intimidated by the idea of doing in alone. If you're not convinced about Ghost Light's prowess, take a look at their show recommendations for the 2023 Festival! As you can see, they really know their stuff.
Plus, keep an eye on Playbill.com this year as Playbill covers the 2023 Fringe. And make sure to book your ticket on the first ever Playbill FringeShip for 2024!