Edinburgh fringe: the world’s best-loved celebration of arts and culture returns

The first shows for this year's biggest arts and culture festival Edinburgh Fringe are announced.

Edinburgh fringe: the world’s best-loved celebration of arts and culture returns

Today, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is delighted to announce that the first shows for the 2023. Edinburgh Festival Fringe will be available to book here

This year’s Fringe takes place from 04 – 28 August 2023 and will feature an exciting range of shows, with theatre, comedy, music, dance, circus, musicals, variety, cabaret, events and more all represented in the programme.

Tickets for 190 shows will be released at 12:00 GMT today, with more shows set to be announced on Thursday 30 March and Thursday 11 May.

The official launch of the festival, including the reveal of the iconic printed programme, will take place on Thursday 08 June.

Below is a small representative sample of shows available to book from today. The full list of shows released today can be found here.

Commenting on today's announcement, Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: 

"Along with the programme launch and the first Friday in August, the announcement of the first batch of shows is one of those thrilling moments in the Fringe calendar. The whole Fringe community has been working behind the scenes to prepare for the festival for months now, but having actual shows to browse and book makes the build up to this year’s Fringe that bit more tangible. 
The Fringe is made possible due to a cast of thousands – artists, audiences, venue staff, industry, media, sponsors, partners and local businesses. It’s never too early to start planning a trip to the Fringe; booking early is also a brilliant way to support artists, to let them know there’s already an audience waiting for their show to come to Edinburgh. We’ll be announcing a lot more over the coming months, including details of our much-anticipated new app, so stay tuned!”

Theatre

At theSpaceUK, Call me Elizabeth joins Elizabeth Taylor in ‘an intimate look at the movie star’s early life, career, and loves as she grapples with the culture of celebrity and her place as Hollywood’s brightest star’. In Gilbert and Sullivan’s Nightmare at Greenside, we join Old Adam on awards night, ‘hoping he might just get the recognition he deserves’. Audience participation such as ‘sharing a memory and joining in with songs’ is encouraged at Memories of the Early 1950s (Just the Tonic). Combining drag, multimedia, audience interaction, puppetry and a lot of queer joy’, Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story is at Pleasance.

At C venues, Love is Blue follows Olly, a hard-drinking city trader recovering from the death of his boyfriend, who has ‘a chance encounter with homeless teenager Aaron’. Making History by Stephen Fry (St Ninian’s Hall) is ‘the first-ever stage adaptation of the 1996 novel’ in which a student and a physicist discover ‘they have the power to alter history and eradicate a great evil’. At The Stand’s New Town Theatre, Agent November’s Indoor Escape Game – Murder Mr E is a ‘unique blend of immersive escape room and murder mystery’.

Comedy

Chloe Petts is at Pleasance with her new show, If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, and Grace Campbell is offering A Show About More Me(n) at Gilded Balloon. JoJo Pat is Sober and Alive at Just the Tonic, The Sheraton Grand Hotel is offering its Pick of the Fringe and Marjolein Robertson is presenting Marj at The Stand Comedy Club. At theSpaceUK, Escape Velocity presents ‘an anecdotal, confessional, funny story of a rocket scientist’s journey through sex addiction’.

Some famous folk off the telly are coming to the Fringe this year: Frank Skinner and Gyles Brandreth will be at Assembly, Geoff Norcott is at Underbelly, Gary: Tank Commander will be at Gilded Balloon, and the Pleasance will welcome Adam Kay and Paul Merton (the latter alongside his Impro Chums).

Familiar Fringe faces will also be in attendance: Susie McCabe and Jason Byrne are at Assembly, Daniel Sloss plays the Edinburgh Playhouse, Rhod Gilbert performs his latest work in progress at Gilded Balloon and Danny Bhoy, James Nokise and Jo Caulfield are at The Stand Comedy Club.  Ensemble-wise, Sh!t-faced Shakespeare and Showstopper! The Improvised Musical are both at Pleasance this year.  You’ll be able to catch at least two Fringe shows online this year: Agatha Is Missing, ‘fun-filled murder mystery’, while The Woke Box is ‘a parody Gogglebox about two slobby Pakistani brothers getting brainwashed by an evil TV’.

Music

A Certain Edge is a ‘singer-songwriter, turncoat-musician collective’ blending influences ‘from Bacharach to Bach, Steely Dan to Dylan’ – catch them at the Acoustic Music Centre @ UCC.  At Novotel, Jazz at Lunchtime offers what it says on the tin: a ‘saxophone and piano duo, playing jazz standards and melodic originals in a comfortable, intimate jazz club setting’.  Singer-songwriter Dean Friedman brings his Words and Music to St Andrew’s and St George’s West, George St, with a back catalogue featuring ‘Ariel’, ‘Lucky Stars’, ‘Lydia’, ‘Woman of Mine’, ‘Rocking Chair’ and ‘McDonald’s Girl’ among others.

Craig Herbertson, Edinburgh singer and songwriter, ‘presents a celebration in song and story of Edinburgh’ in Craig on the Cliff at St Cuthbert’s Church, while ‘South Australian musician/songwriter William Jack presents a free (non-ticketed) multi-style cello recital’, This Old Cello Box, at St Giles’ Cathedral. theSpaceUK is hosting a plethora of different Night Owl productions inspired by music stars of yesteryear, including Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Blondie, Carol King and James Taylor, Whitney Houston and more.

Cabaret and variety

La Clique are back at this year’s Fringe, ‘featuring the best of circus, comedy and cabaret’ at Underbelly, while ‘cabaret legend and variety artiste’ Ada Campe will be Naval Gazing at The Stand’s New Town TheatreJust the Tonic is offering a Best of Cabaret lineup of ‘an all-star diverse rotating cast of international and regional seasoned artists in the genre’, and Dom Chambers: A Boy and His Deck at Assembly offers ‘exotic acts that connect alternative circus with the dark arts of underground burlesque and cabaret’.

Over at Gilded Balloon, JezO's Car-Crash Magic Show is an ‘unusual blend of comedy, audience participation and magic’, while theSpaceUK hosts ‘magical legend’ The Great Baldini as he uncovers Illusionati – A Magical Conspiracy.

Dance, physical theatre and circus

Dance teacher and caller Ken Gourlay leads you through some Ceilidhs (Scottish Dancing) at 9 Queen Street.  Returning to the Fringe are The Black Blues Brothers, ‘five unleashed acrobats’ performing their comedy tribute to the cult movie – they’re at Assembly Rooms.

The Centrepiece Global Sacred Circle Dance, Lighting up the World with Dance is at Craigmillar Park Church, offering ‘sacred, circle and traditional dances which bring communities together’.

Children's shows

Fringe regular Marcel Lucont brings Les Enfants Terribles – A Gameshow For Awful Children to Assembly, which is also where you’ll find The Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show Strikes Back!  Pinocchio! The Panto is at theSpaceUK, as the titular puppet ‘learns some hard lessons about what it takes to be a real boy’. At Underbelly, Trash Test Dummies is an ‘award-winning, side-splitting, slapstick comedy circus routine’ about household bins.

Musicals and opera

Potty the Plant at Gilded Balloon is a ‘new dark-comedy musical starring Potty, a singing, talking, tap-dancing pot plant’. Blue Morpho at Greenside tells the story of Juliane Koepcke, a teenager in the 1970s who survived a plane-crash and 11 days in the Amazon. theSpaceUK boasts several musical adaptations including Frozen Jr, Shrek Jr and Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost. And Boys in the Buff at C venues explores issues around body confidence, with two ‘clothing optional’ performances on 15 and 22 August.

TONY! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] by Harry Hill and Steve Brown is at the Pleasance.  Another Afternoon at the Opera with Brian Bannatyne-Scott and Friends is at St Andrew's and St George's West, George St, offering ‘an enchanting concert of operatic highlights’.

Spoken word

Alice Hawkins – Suffragette at the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre is ‘a stirring and passionate account’ of the early-1900s feminist delivered by her great-grandson Peter. In Loft Clearance at Greenside we join Eileen ‘as she rummages through a hundred years' worth of possessions’ in her loft.

Header Image Credit: Malachi Frost, 2022, by David Monteith-Hodge

Author

Saskia Calliste

Saskia Calliste Voice Team

Saskia is the Deputy Editor of Voice and has worked on campaigns such as International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and Anti-Bullying Week. Outside of Voice, Saskia is a published author (Hairvolution) and has guest featured in various other publications (The Women Writers’ Handbook/ Cosmopolitan/ The Highlight). She has a BA in Creative Writing and Journalism and an MA in Publishing. She is a mentor for Women of the World Global, has guest lectured at the University of Roehampton and has led seminars/panel talks on Race, Equality and Diversity. She was a 2022 Guest Judge for Dave (TV Channel) in search of the 'Joke of the Fringe'. She is 27-years-old, based in London, and loves to cook and explore new places in her spare time.

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