Fest is, of course, a short form of its original title, Festering Hatred.
Drama undergrad kicked off your course? Write for Fest. Failed comedian? Write for Fest. Heriot Watt student who can’t go home for the holidays because your parents fucking hate you? Write for Fest.
Unlike most other publications that clutter the Fringe, Fest has made no commitment to Edinburgh, or the Fringe, or the performing arts generally, or even journalism. It simply recurs every year like tsetse fly in Tanzania, and exists purely to sell advertising space (this year at the rate of £675 for half an A5 page, per issue, £2000 for a listing, £1000 to appear as a blob on its city map). In-between the ads, it pretends to tell fringegoers something about what’s going on. Although Fest will give literally anyone a job, it does have a returning cohort of writers, most of whom write with a grandiloquent sense of entitlement. Most reviews seem to be delivered from the saddle of a very high horse in a cloud of hot piss and sneering.
The thing that most strikes you when reading Fest is how genuinely unhappy its reviewers are to be involved with the Fringe. Behind the cheery interview of whichever hot-shot they’re feting in any particular issue, the reviewers gasp and groan and complain about what a bloody grinding chore the whole thing is.
Last year the Fest brigade visited about 300 shows and gave out about 20 stars in total. Legend has it that they stuck all the left-over stars up each other’s arses at a Fringe after-party in Marchmont, causing extensive internal damage and yet another funding shortfall for Lothian NHS.
Fest is less a magazine and more a sort of family of toxic monkeys who have a get-together once a year to throw their stools around and count their money.