Lonely Planet Writer

'Take a leap into the unknown' at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Whether it’s creative takes on the #MeToo movement, shows about Brexit and Trump’s America, or a comedy club hosted in a chicken coop, Edinburgh is once again preparing to host the biggest arts festival in the world which kicks off this weekend.

The world's biggest art festival gets underway in Edinburgh
Performers from Japanese company ‘Wasabeats’ jump during a photocall to promote their show ‘Break Free’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Princes Street Gardens on 30 July, 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

With thousands of shows across hundreds of venues, highlights of the Edinburgh Fringe programme, now in its 71st year and boasting 3548 shows, include a new musical about the attempt to stage the Oscar-winning My Left Foot by the National Theatre of Scotland, and Underground Railroad Game, a subversive, critically acclaimed take on race relations in America that divides audiences into armies.

“We encourage everyone who comes to the Fringe to take a leap into the unknown,” said chief executive Shona McCarthy. “Whether this is your first or 50th time visiting the Fringe, there is no other festival in the world that offers such a diverse range of cultural experiences.”

Performers at the 2017 Festival Fringe
Members of the Catalonian string orchestra Orquestra de Cambra d’emporia perform on the roof tops of Craig’s Close in Edinburgh’s Old Town in 2017. Photo by: Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images

A special focus on street theatre will include a new arena on the Royal Mile – the beating heart of the Fringe – hosting more than 250 shows every day. The move to expand the Festival beyond the city centre continues with increased venues in Leith, now a year-round cultural hub in the north of the city.

At the Edinburgh International Festival, visitors can indulge in two great Rossini operas, one of which is by the unmissable Opéra de Lyon. The Prisoner is the latest production by theatre superstar Peter Brooks, and the illusionist Geoff Sobelle will be building an entire house before the audience’s eyes in HOME. At Leith Theatre legendary Scottish artists including Mogwai, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Alan Cumming will be performing in Light on the Shore.

Over at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which takes over elegant Charlotte Square in the New Town, American actress Rose McGowan, one of the first to accuse Harvey Weinstein, will appear in a diverse programme that also includes Chelsea Clinton, Jeremy Corbyn in conversation with Yanis Varoufakis, Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent, and Nelson Mandela’s daughter. A new 330-capacity venue named after Edinburgh author Dame Muriel Spark will be located at the West End of George Street, close to Charlotte Square.

By Chitra Ramaswamy