Fancy seeing all your favourite comedians come together for a week, weekend, or even a full month full of laughter? Then your best bet is to attend one of the UK's many amazing Comedy Festivals!
Last updated: 6th Mar 2023
Whilst we are all more than used to going to see all our favourite live music at festivals around the globe, from the world's biggest touring acts to the smaller up-and-comers; but what many don't realise is that the exact same thing happens to comedy! Unlike those that cater to music, Comedy festivals don't have a particular season and happen all year round, they don't need the sun and often the Comics actually enjoy it when it's a bit duller outside; Comedy works better on people who are down after all, as laughter is the best medicine.
From sprawling, city-wide, month-long festivals that shape the careers of aspiring comics, and also showcase so much more than comedy, to intimate day festivals celebrating subsections of the comedian community, to weekend-long festivals featuring the biggest and best names in the comedy scene from the telly to those selling arenas to the ones that'll be doing both in years to come.
So, if you're a comedy fan, then why not diversify your festival calendar this year, and attend one of these incredible comedy festivals in the UK below? Who doesn't want to split open their sides and be left in stitches due to laughing so much? We know we do!
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
When: Throughout the whole month of August 2023
Where: Various venues around Edinburgh
We had to start with the unabridged classic. Edinburgh Fringe Festival is known the world over for being THE place on the global scene to see the very best comics, as they spend the entire month of august doing almost daily sets of their latest shows. The entire city of Edinburgh comes alive during the Fringe, with not only comedy happening, but with incredible Theatre, Burlesque, Spoken Word, Imporv, and a whole diverse range of entertainment on show.
yet, the main attraction for many is comedy, and it's no surprise as to why. Last year, the Fringe saw huge names like Nish Kumar, Frankie Boyle, Fern Brady and Stewart Lee take its stages, alongside some of the biggest rising stars in the game like Maisie Adam, Jordan Gray, Alfie Brown, and Vittorio Angelone.
If there is ever a comedy festival for you to attend it's this one, it should be on every comedy fan's bucket list and we want to attend every year we can.
When: 5th May - 4th June 2023
Where: Various venues around Brighton
England's main rival to the Edinburgh Fringe, and a mighty good weekend in its own right, Brighton Fringe is the Southern city's annual celebration of all things Comedy, Theatre, Drag, Burlesque and almost everything onstage entertainment-wise. Welcoming hundreds of thousands of people over its month-long run in May, the festival is a celebration of all the local talent Brighton has to offer, as well as providing a place for many others to get noticed and potentially poached for bigger runs at Edinburgh.
It's one of the biggest fringe festivals in the world, and the city of Brighton comes to life in the month it runs, both in the streets and inside the many venues that host the talent. It's a fantastic weekend of comedic entertainment and one that you can catch that little bit more than comedy too if you get bored of your sides being split. A must-visit for any southern comedy fan who doesn't want to make the trek up to Edinburgh.
Glasgow International Comedy Festival
When: 1st March - 2nd April 2023
Where: Various venues around Glasgow
Whilst Edinburgh flies the flag for Scotland's comedy festival scene, their noisy neighbours in Glasgow do a mighty fine job in trying to match the influence on the firing, with their month-long festival, happening this month in March, the Glasgow International Comedy festival. The acts billed here are no joke, with it hosting some of the biggest names in the Biz, plus, unlike the Edinburgh Fringe, it is entirely focused on Comedy and getting the most laughs possible out of the attending crowd.
The 2023 edition sees the likes of Frankie Boyle, Zoe Lyons, Phil Wang, Fern Brady, Emmanuel Sonubi, Eshaan Akbar, Justin Moorhouse, and Maisie Adam take the stage, amongst a whole host of other acts from further down the pyramid who are punching well above their weight.
It's a great, more comedy-focused alternative to the Edinburgh Fringe, particularly as it gets more and more expensive to go, plus, the people of Glasgow are amongst the best comedy crowds in the UK. This year's event may have already started, but that doesn't mean you can sort out some last-minute plans; it's happening for the whole month remember!
Just For Laughs London
When: 2nd - 5th March 2023
Where: Various venues around London
A sister festival of the Montreal Just For Laughs, which is regarded as one of the biggest global comedy festivals around, London's Just For Laughs has just taken over multiple venues in the city to bring the lucky crowd some of the very best laugh crafters in the biz. Whilst you have just missed this year's event, with it just happening last weekend, that doesn't mean you can't start planning for next year's edition, as their lineups are nothing short of spectacular.
This year the lucky punters at these gigs saw the likes of Hollywood superstar and funnyman Ryan Reynolds; Father ted icon, and talk show extraordinaire, Graham Norton; one of the funniest women in the UK, Katherine Ryan; and so much more incredible talent like Reggie Watts, James Acaster and Nish Kumars Springleaf, Joe Lycett, Aisling Bea, Ed Gamble, Rob Delany, and so so much more.
It's one of the best lineups on the comedy scene if you're into the more mainstream comedy circuit and those you see on the telly, but nonetheless a guaranteed exhibition of laughter. Just For Laughs is here to stay, and one every comedy fan in London needs to check out.
Shrewsbury International Comedy Festival
When: 13th - 16th July 2023
Where: Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury
Taking place over a long weekend in July, the Shrewsbury International Comedy Festival is a standout amongst the smaller-sized comedy festivals in the UK, mainly down to the calibre of acts that graces its stages. Happening throughout a multitude of venues in the northern town, with the best acts taking the stage during their Gala Show at Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury comes alive with laughter every time it comes to town, and if you live somewhat local, it's the perfect weekend away.
Already announced for this year is the like of Have A Word Podcast host and Scouse legend, Adam Rowe; TV icon from The Chase, Paul ‘The Sinnerman’ Sinha; as well as Phoneix Nights legend and hapless clairvoyant, medium and psychic, Clinton Baptiste. With a whole host of amazing acts still to be announced for the rest of the festival, you just know that it's going to be a tip weekend, and we can't wait to see you down there!
When: 20th - 25th September 2023
Where: Castlefield Bowl in Manchester
The newest edition to the comedy festival circuit, but one that we are certain will be a mainstay for years to come, Manchesters Laughterama is taking over the site of Castlefield Bowl, the place where the city's coveted Sound Of The City gigs happen annually, for a weekend of some of the biggest names about, with a huge crowd whose laughter is bound to be heard far and wide.
Last year's festival saw stars like James Acaster, Nish Kumar, Simon Amstell, Aisling Bea, Maisie Adam, josh Widdicombe, Fern Brady, and so many more take the stage and kill it, and whilst we haven't got any names for the 2023 edition yet, there's no doubt in our minds it's gonna be just as good.
Make sure to watch out for this one as 2022 sold out insanely quickly, and we don't want you to miss out on the latest edition of Manchester's thriving comedy scene.
Greenwich Comedy Festival
When: 13th - 17th September 2023
Where: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
This open-air comedic extravaganza out of Greenwich has established itself as a staple on the UK comedy festival circuit and for good reason. Welcoming its crowd to the stunning grounds of the National Maritime Museum, and treating them to a curated selection of some of the funniest people in the UK, it's probably the number one stop when it comes to seeing a huge comedy lineup in London.
Last year saw the likes of Frankie Boyle, Stewart Lee, Simon Amstell, David O'Doherty, Rosie Jones, Milton Jones, and Jamaali Maddox amongst many other belly-jiggling jokesters. Whilst we haven't got a lineup for 2023 yet, we are certain that it'll be more than worth the entry fee, as they have never disappointed lineup-wise. Keep an eye out for announcements, as once people know whose playing, you can all but guarantee that sell out won't be far away.
Women In Comedy Festival
When: 1st - 10th October 2023
Where: Various Venues in Manchester
Simulateously one of the most focused, and most important festivals on this list, the Manchester Women in Comedy Festival is an accessible and supportive event that celebrates, champions and promotes all things funny and female across a variety of platforms. This includes stand-up, comedy theatre, improv, sketches, workshops and debates.
The vast majority of modern funny women in the comedy scene have come through with sets here since its inception in 2013, and year after year it keeps getting better and better. This worthy growth has seen the festival expand to encompass showcases, galas, networking events, training, panels, debates and workshops. The Women In Comedy Festival also offers training and mentorship opportunities with industry professionals and other leading creative organisations.
An inspiring festival for both female fans of comedy and aspiring female comedians, as well as just being ten days of pure unabridged laughter, Manchester's Women In Comedy Festival is a must-visit and easily one of the best in the UK.
Wells Comedy Festival
When: 26th - 28th May 2023
Where: Various venues in Somerset
The South East primary spot for all things funny, Wells Comedy festival in Somerset is an annual belly-shaking event filled with incredible comics and huge laughs, that any Comedy punter in the region can't afford to miss. Founded in 2015, the event brings the finest comedians in the country to the heart of the idyllic town for one jam-packed weekend of giggles.
Running for one weekend only in May, the 2023 edition of the festival is bringing the likes of Phil Wang, Rosie jones, Tim Key, Mark Wtason, Lou Sanders, Jamali Maddix, Kiri Pritchard Mclean and so many more to various venues around the town, and we can all but guarantee that Somerset will be brought to life in choruses of laughter as the weekend goes on.
Comedy doesn't happen in cities as pretty as this very often, so if you like your events to have slightly more class to them than usual, then check out Wells Comedy Festival, you won't be disappointed.
Leicester Comedy Festival
When: 7th - 25th February 2023
Where: Various Venues in Leicester
One of the UK's longest-running city comedy festivals, and for good reason, Leicester Comedy Festival is a celebration of all things British comedy, with an annually stellar lineup of some of the funniest people in the country for lucky punters to get their funny bones prepped for.
The festival also incorporates other aspects of the arts alongside the main attraction of Comedy, with performers from film, poetry & spoken word, comic theatre, photographic and art exhibitions, and children’s shows all getting their time in the limelight.
This year's festival may have already happened, with sell-out shows during the festival including Stewart Lee, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Scott Bennett, Seann Walsh, Rosie Jones, Ceyla AB, Nish Kumar, Eshann Akbar, Stephen Bailey, Simon Brodkin, Alfie Moore & Ignacio Lopez. But 2024 has already been confirmed to be going ahead and if its anything close to this year, it's going to be another astounding success, make sure to watch out for announcements!
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
Read more news