It's back! After two years pretty much thwarted by the Covid pandemic, the much-loved Edinburgh Fringe Festival is back to normal offering three weeks of joy and delight to theatre and comedy lovers. Serious thespians join big name comedians, alongside festival first timers and some quite extraordinary new performers, creating a non-stop whirl of endless shows over a three-week period.
It can be hard to know where to start and which tickets to book - there's the big names, the hot tickets in town, but also the newcomers and the hidden gems. We've picked 10 we think are must-see shows - from the ones everyone's clamouring to see, to the others that make Edinburgh what it is - a wonderful melting pot of talent and creativity. What are you waiting for?!
1. Best family friendly show
ETC have been bringing sell-out shows by fresh young actors to Edinburgh for years, and this year they a have a couple of must-see performances for those looking to enjoy the festival with the family. The Hound of The Baskervilles (suitable for 8+) is a hilarious comedy take on the famous murder mystery story, perfectly timed for a pre-lunch treat.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a fabulous family treat (Credit: Derek D'Souza)
Channelling Wes Anderson's comedic style, this fast-paced whodunnit will delight kids and parents alike, as the tightly choreographed ensemble face off against the surreal, the supernatural and the downright silly in this side-splitting, bone-chilling mystery.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, 12.05pm at theSpace on North Bridge, 8th-13th August.
2. Best show for the littlest theatre-goers
The rib-tickling Our Teacher's a Troll, by Dennis Kelly, will thrill younger audiences who will be rolling in the aisles as a pair of terrible twins drive the head teacher out of school, only to find out that a troll has taken her place. And not just any troll - one who likes eating children! A real rip-roarer of a comedy, written by the creator of Matilda the Musical - and very suitable for even the littlest festival fan - they can even join in!
Our Teacher's A Troll, 11.40am at theSpace on the Mile, 8-13th August.
What's better? A head teacher, or a troll? (Credit: Derek D'Souza)
3. Best kids' puppetry show
Dragons and Mythical Beasts literally brings to life your children's dreams and imaginations. Spectacular puppetry of everything from beyond-lifesize dragons to intricate mythical creatures will keep children (3+) enthralled for the epic duration.
Dragons and Mythical Beasts, Uderbelly Bristo Square, 5-15 August.
4. Best alt-theatre show
The legend that is Tim Crouch returns to the Fringe with fantastically alternative, virtual-reality themed riff on King Lear , entitled Truth's A Dog Must To Kennel - and it's as boundary-pushing, mind-blowingly inventive and controversial as you'd imagine! Spending much of the show in a VR headset, he embodies the role of the Fool for part of the play - a character who leaves the traditional King Lear story mid-way through and misses most of the action. Not this time!
Tim Crouch: Truth's A Dog Must to Kennel, Royal Lyceum, 6–28 August.
5. Best star-spotting opportunities
Who wouldn't want to see Sir Ian McKellen in Hamlet? His third time in this role, in what is being billed as a "new performance concept", the 83-year-old will be delivering powerful speeches while accompanied by dancers from the Edinburgh Festival Ballet. It's been the fastest-selling show at the festival so far this year - but there are till VIP tickets available if you're quick!
Hamlet with Ian McKellen, Ashton Hall St Stephens, Aug 5-7, 9-14, 16-21, 23-28
6. Best comedy show
Maisie Adam is becoming seriously hot property - and if you've missed her on Mock the Week or The Last Leg, it's time to catch up with her at Edinburgh. Super-sharp observational comedy in a high-octane stand up show, Buzzed will leave you literally weeping with laughter. Suitable for 14+.
Maisie Adams - Buzzed, Guilded Balloon, 5-25 August.
7. Best cabaret
Returning to its roots, La Clique may have toured the globe over the years, but it's never better than when it's seen where it all began - at the Edinburgh Fringe. Expect the unexpected and don't read too much in advance, to allow the experience to completely swallow you up. Just rest assured, it will be a truly spectacular, cheeky, shocking and jaw-dropping experience you will never forget.
La Clique, Udderbelly's Circus Hub on the Meadows, Aug 5-14, 16-21, 23-27
La Clique will surprise and delight
8. Best magic show
If it's good enough for Beyonce and the Pentagon....Chris Dugdale confounds everyone he meets, from Grammy-winning singers, American politicians or Edinburgh Fringe audiences, with his unique blend of magic and mind control. Fresh from TV appearances here and in the US, the master magician will delight audiences in Edinburgh - and you'll simply never figure out how he did it!
Chris Dugdale: Ethermind, Assembly Rooms, 6.35pm, Aug 5-8, 10-28
9. Best political comedy
Matt Forde's Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right hits out at everyone, be they left, right or centre in their political leanings. There really are a bunch of wallies running or attempting to run the country, says this comedian (who you may well recognise from the TV) and he is determined to let everyone know about it. With great reviews, the man labelled 'our foremost satirical stand-up' will have you in stitches while at the same time worrying deeply about the world we find ourselves living in.
Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right, Pleasance Courtyard, Aug 5-28
10. Best unexpected gem
Quirky, unexpected treasures like King of More: A Divination are what makes Edinburgh Fringe what it is. In this immersive show the King of More performs a comedic Bosnian coffee reading for the audience - coffee is included, though you don't have to partake! Will your future be revealled through the ancient traditions of divination? Pay £5 to secure a seat or pay what you choose on exit. Suitable for 14+.
King of More: A Divination, BlundaGardens, Aug 27-28
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