Hear that? That’s the sound of a hundred flyers falling into the Royal Mile drains. That’s right, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 is well underway, so we thought we’d put together a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the festival – from your burning questions to the best shows in Edinburgh this August.
We’ve seen some truly incredible shows at the Fringe this year, so read on for reviews, deep-dives and whynow’s coveted Best of the Fest awards.
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whynow’s Best of the Fest
whynow’s best of the fest | The best musical and cabaret at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023
whynow’s best of the fest | The best theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023
whynow’s best of the fest | The best sketch shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023
whynow’s best of the fest | The best stand-up at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023
whynow’s best of the fest | The best improv at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023
The Edinburgh Fringe is becoming unaffordable | Is the festival near its breaking point?
‘The fringiest of Fringes’ | What brings people to the Edinburgh Festival?
15 seconds of fame | How TikTok is reshaping the Edinburgh Fringe
★★★★★ Greta Titelman: Exquisite Lies review | New favourite sociopath
★★★★★ Distant Memories of the Near Future review | An astounding multi-media love story
★★★★★ John Kearns: The Varnishing Days review | A master at work
★★★★★ Dark Noon review | Striking, immersive retelling of American history
★★★★★ Police Cops: The Musical review | America? F**k yeah!
★★★★★ Creepy Boys review | Twins only a mother could hate
★★★★☆ Stuart Goldsmith: Spoilers review | Climate change therapy (in a good way)
★★★★☆ Pleading Stupidity review | Whose story is this, anyway?
★★★★☆ Mythos: Ragnarok review | By the power of Thor, it’s a lot of fun
★★★★☆ Drag Queens vs Vampires review | Playful and slay-ful camp comedy
★★★★☆ The Hunger review | Pitch-black, pitch-perfect farmyard horror
★★★★☆ Shamilton! The Improvised Hip Hop Musical review | You’ll be back, again and again
★★★★☆ Darran Griffiths review | Masculinity, race and male fertility with a smile
★★★★☆ Any Suggestions Doctor review | Smartly sculpted improv for die-hard Whovians
★★★★☆ Laura Ramoso: Frances review | Viral sketches succeed on stage
★★★★☆ Ange Lavoipierre: Your Mother Chucks Rocks and Shells review | This exorcism does a whole lot of good
★★★★☆ MC Hammersmith: Straight Outta Brompton review | Ridiculously middle-class, ridiculous fun
★★★★☆ Showstopper! The Improvised Musical review | Consistently impressive improv
★★★★☆ My Dad Wears a Dress review | A touching, feel-good one-woman play
★★★★☆ Showgirls and Spies review | Parisian glitz resists Nazi rule
★★★★☆ Ed Byrne: Tragedy Plus Time review | Heartfelt, hilarious stand-up from a master at work
★★★☆☆ Freya Parker: It Ain’t Easy Being Cheeky review | A solid, slightly cheeky chuckle
★★★☆☆ Jazz or a Bucket of Blood review | Two-pronged sketch show struggles to find a theme
★★★☆☆ Rosie Holt: That’s Politainment! review | Satire’s dead, but Holt didn’t kill it
★★★☆☆ Darren Harriott: Roadman review | Lots of laughs but lacking narrative
★★★☆☆ St Doctors Hospital review | Anarchic improv has funny bones, but no heartbeat
★★★☆☆ Max & Ivan: Life, Choices review | Edinburgh’s golden boys are back
★★★☆☆ Confessions of a Teletubby review | Forgive me, LaaLaa, for I have sinned
★★★☆☆ Alison Spittle: Soup review | Comfort food for stand-up souls
★★★☆☆ Bed review | A conventionally touching musical melodrama
★★★☆☆ Chloe Radcliffe: Cheat review | Breaking taboos and making names
★★★☆☆ Grace Campbell: A Show About More Me(n) review | Shtick becoming an ick
★★☆☆☆ Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder review | Big budgets doth not a Fringe show make
★★☆☆☆ Artificial Intelligence Improvisation review | Comedy has nothing to fear from AI
What is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe started in 1947 when eight theatre companies turned up, uninvited, to the prestigious Edinburgh Festival, an event planned to rejuvenate the arts and culture sector after WWII. 76 years later, it’s the largest arts festival in the world, attracting global (and often very strange) talent from around the world to the Scottish capital every August. Over the years, the Fringe has become a particular favourite of the comedy industry, giving rise to a number of stars from Stephen Fry to Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
How much does the Edinburgh Fringe cost?
Nothing at all! Every year almost the whole of the city of Edinburgh is practically given over to the Fringe, with venues popping up in prestigious, purpose-built venues, the back rooms of pubs and even (occasionally) someone’s living room! So while the festival itself is completely free to enter (just hop on a train into Edinburgh), and there are a number of free shows available via PBH’s Free Fringe, tickets for most shows fall somewhere between £5 and £15 per ticket – and for some of the bigger names, you might want to book well in advance.
What’s the weather forecast for the Edinburgh Fringe 2023?
At the time of writing… wet. While Scotland is famous for having a particularly changeable climate, the first two weeks of the festival are looking generally rain-heavy, with a few cloudy days thrown in for good measure. You best bring an umbrella.
What should I wear to the Edinburgh Fringe?
While you’ll probably be changing outfits as often as the weather, one absolute essential if you’re planning to make the most of the festival is a good pair of shoes. Fringe venues are spread out across the entire city, so even with a few shows during the day, you’ll be doing a lot of walking.