Hold on to your hats, everyone: Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival is only six weeks away. But if you can’t make it to Scotland this August – or fancy more of the same elsewhere – it’s worth remembering that fringe festivals are now a global phenomenon. Here’s our pick of five of the best.
1. Edinburgh Fringe: 3-27 August, 2018
The granddaddy of Fringes, it all started in 1947 in Edinburgh when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the (then newly-formed) Edinburgh International Festival. These days it has morphed into a powerhouse in its own right, with 50,000 performances at 300 venues over its three-week run. Comedy, music, dance, cabaret, shows for kids – the list is never ending. This year’s line-up includes established names such as Marcus Brigstocke, as well as rising stars like Deborah Frances-White of the Guilty Feminist podcast. The real fun is in catching new talent just as it begins to shine.
Where to stay: Edinburgh is pricey this time of year. Cosy, traditional rooms at the well-located Cumberland Hotel are around £140 a night.
Further information: edfringe.com
2. Amsterdam Fringe Festival: 6-16 September, 2018
Search for return flights to Amsterdam from £38.
The unofficial Dutch capital is a year-round party place, but locals really let their hair down for the Fringe. It takes place this year over 11 days in early September. Some 30 venues across the city – from big stages to garages – showcase an eclectic fusion of music, comedy, dance and theatre. And there’s no need to speak the local lingo: over half the performances are in English. Last year’s highlights included hybrid girl horror musical Cinebra, lessons in how to Be Yoncé by Pony Camp, and Guru Dudu’s silent disco walking tours.
Where to stay: A simple, cosy room on an old wooden barge right in the centre at The Cabin @ MPS Noorderzon costs from £110
Further information: amsterdamfringefestival.nl
3. Fringe NYC: October 2018
Search for return flights to New York from £197.
Back after a year off in 2017, nearly 200 theatre and performance companies will stage indie productions across Manhattan during Fringe NYC in October. Unlike many other Fringes, performers are selected by experts to ensure there are no duds. 2018’s schedule has yet to be announced but 2016 featured the hair-raising story of a woman with four legs, and the snappily-titled: A Microwaved Burrito Filled with E. coli. And if you prefer your Fringes a little more free-for-all, don’t worry. The FringeBYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) alongside allows independent venues to put on a show and just get performing.
Where to stay: The Broadway Hotel & Hostel’s friendly service and colourful rooms are good value for Manhattan at £107 per night.
Further information: fringenyc.org
4. Fringe World, Perth: 18 January – 17 February, 2019
Search for return flights to Perth from £764.
Western Australia’s most popular festival is the third largest fringe gathering in the world with some 130 venues putting on over 750 events in the funshine of a southern hemisphere summer. It’s too early to know who will be performing next year, but 2018’s highlights included a record-breaking ball juggling attempt whilst upside down on a trapeze, dancing in a vintage lion’s cage, and mermaids swimming in huge fish tanks. Over 360,000 tickets were sold this year.
Where to stay: Close to the Botanic Gardens and ten minutes’ walk from the city centre, Sullivans Hotel is perfectly-located, with rooms from about £80 a night.
Further information: fringeworld.com.au
5. Adelaide Fringe: 15 February – 17 March, 2019
Search for return flights to Adelaide from £609.
Hot on the heels of Perth’s fringe-mongous event comes South Australia’s answer in arty Adelaide. It’s been going 58 years now with venues including a laundromat, a tent, and an abandoned hospital. In all, over 1000 events are planned. Stand out performances in 2018 were Ethiopian brothers Bibi and Bichu’s quest to join the circus, Demi Lardner’s odd obsession with skeletons, and Trumpageddon: a satire about a president of an isolated, totalitarian state.
Where to stay: Franklin Boutique Hotel offers smart rooms and a hipster-retro bar right in the middle of the action – with doubles from about £90 a night.
Further information: adelaidefringe.com.au
Published June 2018. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only on 19 June, 2018 and are subject to change and/or availability.