Best comedy festivals taking place in 2017
- Rowena McIntosh
- 10 March 2017
Laugh it up in Glasgow, Machynlleth, Brighton, Manchester and more
In a world where Donald Trump is the leader of the free world we need a good laugh now more than ever. There is a special rawness to live comedy, of someone stood in front of an expectant audience in a basement trying to enlist laughter. Even in packed arenas, where the faces of comedians sporting Britney-style mics are projected onto massive screens, a rogue heckle or tardy audience member and take a show in a whole new direction. We've selected a septet of comedy festivals to check out in 2017.
Glasgow Comedy Festival
The Glasgow Comedy Festival celebrates its 15th year in 2017 and runs for 18 days at venues across the city. This year's big names include Al Murray, Bridget Christie, Jimmy Carr and David O'Doherty. If you're on the hunt for a new fav check out the mixed bill lineups at WEST Brewery, Drygate or Yesbar, while Blackfriars hosts the festival's Glasgow Late & Live shows, for comedians that didn't get too tanked too early.
Thu 9–Sun 26 Mar, glasgowcomedyfestival.com
A relative young'un on the festival circuit, That's Fife returns for a fourth edition. The programme covers theatre, family shows and spoken word as well as comedy, at venues across the Kingdom. Funny folk headed for Fife in 2017 include Alan Davies, Fred MacAulay, Russell Kane and Robert Florence & Iain Connell. The festival opens with the That's Fife Festival Gala at Rothes Hall, where you can enjoy the company of Elaine C Smith, Scott Gibson, Kevin Quantum and Patrick Monahan.
Sat 1–Sun 28 Apr, onfife.com
Machynlleth Comedy Festival
Short but sweet the Machynlleth Comedy Festival squeezes a packed stand-up comedy programme into a long weekend. Comedians visiting the Welsh market town include Daphne, Felicity Ward, Josie Long and Richard Gadd. Several comedians, including Beth Vyse, Nish Kumar and Mark Watson, are performing two shows, an existing show and a work-in-progress. James Acaster is doing a trio of shows (Recognise, Represent & Reset) plus a family show.
Fri 28–Sun 30 Apr, machcomedyfest.co.uk
Brighton Comedy Festival
Brighton Fringe is England's largest arts festival and this year features 970 events at 155 venues across 4 weeks. Despite it's size Brighton retains a focus on home-grown talent, with more than 50% of participants based in Brighton and Hove. If you don't know how to whittle it down we've picked ten comedians to see at Brighton Fringe, including Tom Ward, Sleeping Trees and Ellie Taylor.
Fri 5 May–Sun 4 Jun, brightonfringe.org
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The world's largest arts festival celebrates it's 70th birthday this year. Most comedians visiting Edinburgh will play a full three weeks, so you can see a whole host of stand-up, sketch troupes and improv groups throughout August. The full programme is announced on 7 Jun but certain comedy shows are already available to buy, including Andrew Maxwell, Daniel Sloss, The Noise Next Door, Jimeoin, Juliette Burton and Tape Face.
Fri 4–Mon 28 Aug, edfringe.com
Women In Comedy Festival
Europe's only comedy festival dedicated to gender equality takes place annually each October in Manchester. The festival launched in 2013 and previous comics have included Susan Calman, Zoe Lyons, Sarah Millican and Shappi Khorshandi. As well as stand-up the programme includes a comedy writing competition, open mics, networking events, training, panels, debates and workshops. The full programme for 2017 is released in September.
Thu 19–Sun 29 Oct, womenincomedy.co.uk
Nottingham Comedy Festival
In 2016 the festival held over 100 shows at venues across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, with over 10,000 audience members. This year's programme hasn't been announced but 2016 featured Tom Wrigglesworth, Jerry Sadowitz and Abigoliah Schamaun.
Fri 3–Sat 11 Nov, nottinghamcomedyfestival.co.uk
More comedy dates for the diary
Bath Fringe – Fri 26 May–Sun 11 Jun bathfringe.co.uk
Leeds Comedy Festival – Jun leedscomedyfestival.co.uk
Birmingham Comedy Festival – Fri 6– Sun 15 Oct bhamcomfest.co.uk