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Edinburgh Fringe 2019: Your guide to this year's festival of comedy, cabaret and theatre

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The Edinburgh Fringe is one of the cultural highlights of the year – here’s where to head in 2019 to get the best of the fest. 

The Edinburgh Fringe is perfect for fans of comedy, cabaret, theatre, music or theatre – so everyone, in short.

A yearly highlight in our cultural calendar, the Fringe has produced some of the funniest jokes, brightest comedians and, let’s be honest, most legendary hangovers of the last few years.

Not sure where to start? Here’s our guide to what to see and where to go at this year’s Fringe.

  • Bryony Kimmings: I’m a Phoenix, Bitch

    A solo, musical performance on postnatal depression, Bryony Kimmings brings pop culture, art installations, horror, exercise and therapy in her feminist musical. Her show tells the tale of her big breakup back in 2015 and how she almost lost her son. This performance tackles stigmas, taboos and social injustices like no other. Go check out this talented energy of feminism and resilience that explores personal struggles in its own unique way.

    Where: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh EH8 9TJ

    When: 31 July-11 August and 13-25 August

  • The Happiness Project

    A new play by Corey Campbell (director of last year’s Freeman at Edinburgh Fringe) follows Remelle who struggles with her confidence and self-acceptance. The play deals with the pressures put on women of colour, interracial relationships, and the struggles with a career as a female, all through the perspective of a young woman who wants to start a family.

    Where: Army @ The Fringe in Association with Summerhall, 89 East Claremont Street, EH7 4HU

    When: 2-4 August, 9-11 August, 16-18 August and 23-25 August

  • Not Black and White

    A new play by Corey Campbell (director of last year’s Freeman at Edinburgh Fringe) follows Remelle who struggles with her confidence and self-acceptance. The play deals with the pressures put on women of colour, interracial relationships, and the struggles with a career as a female, all through the perspective of a young woman who wants to start a family. 

    Where: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh EH8 9TJ

    When: 1-12 and 14-25 August

  • Crystal Rasmussen: The Bible 2 (Plus a Cure for Shame, Violence, Betrayal and Athlete’s Foot) Live!

    After her book launch ‘Diary of a Drag Queen’ earlier this year, Crystal Rasmussen makes a hilarious comeback on the Underbelly Edinburgh Fringe stage. Author, journalist and Drag pop band DENIM’s Crystal brings her diary to life and tells us her fascinating, crazy story through song, dance and comedy. Crystal discusses escaping shame, violence, debt and an obsessive James Franco. 

    Where: Underbelly, 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JX

    When: 1-11 and 13-25 August

  • Stand Up with Janine Harouni (Please Remain Seated)

    New York native comedian, actor and writer Janine Harrouni is bringing her stand-up show to Edinburgh Fringe to tell us about her father, a New Yorker and son of Middle-Eastern immigrants that’s also a Donald Trump supporter. She recounts her attempt to reconcile with her father in one tense dinner, making a point for standing up for what you believe in, compares American and English men, and talks about a car accident that nearly killed her.

    Where: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh EH8 9TJ

    When: 31 July-12 August and 14-25 August

What is the Edinburgh Fringe?

The Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest art festival – last year, the festival was nearly a month long and featured more than 55,000 performances of nearly 4000 different shows.

Established in the 1940s, the Fringe was intended as an alternative to the more traditional Edinburgh Festival – which, unlike the Fringe, specifically selects performers. At the Fringe, anyone can perform, meaning you get a real mish-mash of different voices, specialities and humours. 

There’s theatre, comedy, spoken word, poetry, performance art, music, dance, opera, circus… pretty much anything creative goes. 

When is the Edinburgh Fringe 2019?

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year will run from 02 – 26 August 2019.

When will the full programme be released?

The full programme has been released you can find it online. 

The Edinburgh Comedy Award

One of the best known elements of the Fringe is the Edinburgh Comedy Award – which you might know as the Perrier Award.

The prize is awarded to the best show of the festival and has been won by some pretty impressive comedy luminaries.

The very first prize, for example, was won by the Cambridge Footlights – a troupe that at the time included  Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Tony Slattery. 

And tv channel Dave created the festival’s ‘Joke of the Year’ prize, rewarding such groaners as “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change”. Dad jokes ahoy! 

Where can I buy tickets for the Edinburgh Festival? 

Edinburgh Fringe tickets are being rolled out across the year – you can get them here

Are there any free events at the Edinburgh Fringe?

Tonnes! There are plenty of free events, and loads that are only a few pounds – so visiting doesn’t have to break the bank. There are even shows on the street – no money required. 

What to do in Edinburgh

The Fringe runs for a month – so you’ve got plenty of time to explore the city, too. It’s been voted the most beautiful city in the UK, too, so it’s scenic too. 

There are boutiques to explore, castles to get lost in, eerie underground vaults to scare yourself silly in… and some of Scotland’s most beautiful and wild countryside is only a drive or train ride away if you want to get away. 

Want more tips? Here’s our guide to some of the best things to do in Edinburgh.

Visiting Edinburgh Festival for the first time? This is how to plan your trip

Edinburgh is pretty accessible, wherever you’re coming from. 

As you probably know, Scotland boasts some of the UK’s most scenic landscapes – so if you’re driving, you have a real treat in store. If you live on the East Coast, you can get there via the A1, and if you live in the West you can get there via the M6. 

It’s also just four hours away from King’s Cross, too, if you live in the capital – and the city’s main station is positiond in the very middle of the city, so you can hop off your train and into the fracas straight away. Sleeper trains are also available for those who want to take a slower, more scenic route.

For those who don’t mind a long journey, there’s also the coach. Coaches go to the city from all over the UK. You can even get one from Southampton if you don’t mind a fourteen hour trip – so we only recommend this to anyone who can happily sleep on a moving coach! 

If you’re short on time, though, or you simply don’t fancy a long drive, many major UK airports offer flights to Edinburgh too. Prices start at £23 – so you won’t be breaking the bank, either. 

What to see at the Edinburgh Fringe 

Shows from Al Murray, Adam Kay, Henning Wehn, Juliette Burton and more have already been announced – and more are to come. 

With thousands of shows to pick from, it can be tough to know what to go for. 

The Edinburgh Fringe Society have got your back, though. They release a programme every year to help you decide what to go for, as well as defeating the not inconsequential challenge of working out timings so you can make the most of your trip to the Fringe.

As we know, this year’s programme will be released in June – so check back here for more info on which shows you can’t miss. 

Images: David Monteith-Hodge