Record-Breaking Year For – Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly – The Largest Grouping of Venues on the Fringe

As the 71st anniversary edition of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe comes to a close with the announcement of record breaking ticket sales across the festival, have reported a bumper year for the four major venues with 1,658,437 tickets sold, an increase of 9% on Fringe 2017.

Accounting for 58% of all tickets sold at the Fringe, – where Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly come together to host some of the world’s best and brightest talent – continues to be the beating heart of the Fringe. Collectively, they run 97 venues, present 858 shows and employ more than 1800 staff making them the largest grouping of venues on the Fringe.

William Burdett-Coutts, Artistic Director, Assembly, said: “We have had another incredibly successful Festival this year with nearly half a million tickets sold across our 200 plus shows.  Many of our companies have enjoyed full houses, 5 star reviews, nominations and awards including, My Left Right Foot which won both a Fringe First and a Herald Angel and Casting Off which won the Total Theatre Award for Circus. I am also delighted to see  the number of international performers at the Festival continuing to grow despite our uncertain political climate, and for 2019 we will continue to work closely with our partners in Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Australia and many other European countries to ensure that we bring the very best artists and work to Edinburgh each year.”

Karen and Katy Koren, Artistic Directors, Gilded Balloon, said As we come to the end of another Fringe season, we’re reflecting on what has been an absolutely fantastic month across all Gilded Balloon venues. We were delighted to return once again to the National Museum of Scotland and Teviot Row House, and open the doors to the Rose Theatre for the second year running. Our 2018 programme put women at the forefront, with Luisa Omielan, Hot Brown Honey, Maisie Adam and The Miss Behave Gameshow just a few of the fantastic performers we hosted throughout August. Gilded Balloon remains a firm favourite on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe landscape and we take great pride in our programme which celebrates home-grown and international talents, from established acts to those with burgeoning careers ahead.”

Anthony Alderson, Director, Pleasance said: It’s been a fantastic Fringe where we have broken box office records throughout the month.  Our biggest and boldest programme ever has seen us fill a trophy cabinet of awards that include Fringe Firsts, both Edinburgh Comedy Awards, The Holden Street Theatres Award and the Filipa Bragança Award. Companies have thrived off how busy and buzzing the city is. In particular, we’ve noticed this at Pleasance at EICC where audiences have trebled this Fringe.  The Pleasance remains a hub for audiences because of the great and diverse shows found within our programme – from brilliant newcomers to the most exciting international artists to our famous family programme. Our long-running partnership with Waverley Care has this Fringe smashed through the £500,000 mark which is also an amazing achievement.”

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors, Underbelly, said: “We are delighted that so many of our companies and artists have been recognised with awards, strong audiences and superb reviews. This year it has been about much more than numbers. It has been about the opportunity to support artists to perform here, to develop and invest in shows, to present a strong line up of new writing, innovative comedians and the best of international contemporary circus, and give space to those who want to create work which not only entertains but also addresses issues which affect us all. We are also delighted to have raised over £43,000 for charity over the course of the Fringe. Every year we are inspired by the talent, creativity and commitment of the artists, performers and staff across Underbelly, and we would like to thank 2018’s incredible team who worked tirelessly to deliver such an exceptional year.”



Underbelly closes successful Fringe 2018

  • Underbelly invested over £500,000 in 22 productions and co-productions this Fringe.
  • Three Fringe First Awards – Angry Alan, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and dressed.
  • Queens of Sheba won an Edinburgh Stage Award
  • Break Free and OTOSOTR won Asian Arts Awards
  • dressed was shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award.
  • It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and Mistero Buffo won Stage Awards for Acting
  • Dangerous Giant Animals won the inaugural Sit-Up Award
  • Ahir Shah was nominated for the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Awards for his show Duffer which played Cabaret Voltaire and Underbelly.
  • The Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence went to Thrown, Garry Starr Performs Everything won the Balkan/Otherplace Award, and Hot Gay Time Machine won the  Radio Reverb Out in Brighton LGBTQ Brighton Fringe Award
  • 2 Three Weeks Editor’s awards went to Maddie Rice for Pickle Jar, and Zach and Viggo and Thumpasaurus for Where Did The Love Go?
  • Killymuck’s Aoife Lennon was shortlisted for the Filipa Bragancia award for a solo female performance.
  • Over 500 reviews for Underbelly shows were 4 or 5 stars.
  • 76% of Underbelly’s 517 Fringe staff came from Scotland.

With over 200 shows 2018 saw Underbelly’s strongest year yet for ticket sales, with 422,120 tickets sold across its 22 venues and 4 sites – George Square, Circus Hub, Cowgate and Bristo Square.

Underbelly produced or co-produced 22 shows in 2018, investing over £500,000 to support artists to develop existing and new work. The companies are supported by Underbelly in a number of ways, including no risk financial arrangements, guarantees paid to artists, enhanced box office splits, reduced or waived rental fees, accommodation provided, press and marketing support and delivery, and technical and production assistance.

This year marked the return of the stunning McEwan Hall after the University of Edinburgh’s three-year £33million restoration, converted into a 900 seat venue which hosted the explosive family show Brainiac Live through to Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly, Nina Conti, Foil, Arms and Hog and Sh*tfaced Shakespeare.

One of this year’s great successes has been the award established by Underbelly, and now in collaboration with New Diorama Theatre, ‘Untapped’, which saw three theatre shows win the opportunity to present new work at Underbelly this Fringe. dressed, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and Queens of Sheba have all played to full houses and critical acclaim with thirty-six 4 and 5 star reviews and prestigious Fringe Firsts for dressed and It’s True, It’s True, It’s True.

Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, directors of Underbelly said“We are delighted that so many of our companies and artists have been recognised with awards, strong audiences and superb reviews. We have a wonderful team of programmers who have brought together an entertaining, diverse and relevant programme of shows.

“We’re still not on the scale of the big boys Pleasance and Assembly but we’re delighted that  our numbers of tickets, performers, staff and stars have grown on previous Fringes. We think though, for us, particularly this year that it has been about much more than numbers. It has been about the opportunity to support artists to perform here, to develop and invest in shows, to present a strong line up of new writing, innovative comedians and the best of international contemporary circus, and give space to those who want to create work which not only entertains but also addresses issues which affect us all.

“We are particularly pleased that our Untapped Award, which we run in collaboration with New Diorama Theatre, has been a terrific success with the three plays dressed, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and Queens of Sheba receiving a huge number of 4 & 5 star reviews and awards.”

Underbelly featured in all three weeks of Fringe First Awards, picking up gongs for  Angry Alandressed and It’s True, It’s True, It’s True: The Scotsman described dressed as full of “joy, passion and a rich flow of energy” and Angry Alan as “packs a giant punch”.dressed was also shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award.

Queens of Sheba took The Stage’s Edinburgh Award in week three of the Fringe.

Wasabeats’ European premier of Break Free smashed expectations and wowed its audience from day one – it’s no surprise they won anAsian Arts Award! Founded in 2014, this award promotes Asian artists and art forms at the Fringe, with judges looking for productions that show outstanding originality, creativity and innovation in their work.

Winner of the inaugural Sit-Up Awards was Dangerous Giant Animals, a play about what it means to grow up alongside a sibling with a disability. The Sit-Up awards are new to the Fringe, launched this year to recognise theatre that which aims to encourage audiences ‘to do something’ if they are affected by work they have seen on stage.

The Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence went to Thrown, a thoughtful and stand-out piece of sci-fi theatre. One of the most popular shows this year at Underbelly, Garry Starr Performs Everything won the Balkan/Otherplace Award, and Hot Gay Time Machine won a Brighton Fringe Award for the second year, taking the Radio Reverb Out in Brighton LGBTQ Brighton Fringe Award.

2 Three Weeks Editor’s Awards winged their way in Underbelly’s direction. Maddie Rice won an award for Pickle Jar with Three Weeks describing it as “Brilliantly written and highly relevant” and Zach and Viggo and Thumpasaurus for Where Did The Love Go?

Over 500 4 and 5 star reviews for shows across the programme including One Woman Sex and the City, Rhys Nicholson, Steen Raskoplous, Pickle Jar, Little Death Club, Tabarnak, Myra Dubois, Abandoman, Josh Glanc, Brainiac Live, Vessel and Dick and Dom marked a successful summer for many who invest in the opportunity to present their work here, on this high profile platform.

This year saw the first company from Khazakstan make a successful debut at the Fringe with their production OTOSOTR (On the Other Side of the River). The List gave it 4 stars and described it as “a gripping, revelatory show” and it picked up an Asian Arts Award.

This year saw Underbelly’s largest programme of accessible performances with 48 performances in step free venues, captioned, BSL interpreted, Relaxed or Makaton signed.

Underbelly held the Big Brain Tumour Benefit for the second year, this time in the magnificent 900-seater McEwan Hall. The line-up included Susan Calman in her only Fringe appearance this year, joined by Joel Dommett, Nish Kumar, Zoe Lyons, David O’Doherty and Rhys Nicholson. The event sold out and all ticket income (£15,000) is going directly to the BrainTumour Charity, matched by Underbelly announced to raise a total of £30,000 on the night and more in online donations.

A further £13,250 was raised through benefits with Stand Up For Cancer, Austentatious presents Crosstentatious! for Waverley Care, Werewolf: Live…Charity Spectacular! Bongo Club Cabaret vs Cancer and Naked Cabaret for Body Gossip. The grand total raised for charities amounted to over £43,000. The online giving page for Brain Tumour Charity is still open and still rising, please do give what you can to support their seriously underfunded and yet so important work.

Alongside plays addressing violence against women and the metoo movement, it was a strong year for women actors, comedians, playwrights, singers and directors at Underbelly with Clare Sweeney, Ria Jones, Janie Dee, Danielle Hope, Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly, One Woman Sex in the City, Louise Beuvnik, Providence of Neighbouring Bodies, Croft and Pearce, Not Yet Suffragette, Alice Fraser, Su Pollard and Athena Kugblenu leading the way.

This year we marked the 250th anniversary of circus and the 4th year of the Underbelly Circus Hub on The Meadows by showcasing and celebrating the very finest contemporary circus from across the globe. The Circus Hub programme this year welcomed circus companies from Colombia, Australia, Canada, America, Cuba, Africa and the UK to dazzle and delight audiences both young and old from The Lafayette and The Beauty with the very best traditional and contemporary circus performance.

This year Underbelly employed 517 staff to deliver its programme, 76% of whom were from Scotland (58% from Edinburgh), 18% of them students at Edinburgh’s colleges and universities. All of whom were paid national living wage, paid breaks, paid training, 100% of their tips, and none of which were on zero-hour contracts.

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors, Underbelly said: “We’re immensely proud of our 2018 programme and how well it’s been received by audiences, industry and media. In particular, we are delighted that we have been able to raise over £30,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity through the fantastic Gala at McEwan Hall and our audience’s generosity. Thank you to everyone who took part, bought a ticket or donated cash.

“Every year we are inspired by the talent, creativity and commitment of the artists, performers and staff across Underbelly, and we would like to thank 2018’s incredible team who worked tirelessly to deliver such an exceptional year.”



America’s largest circus makes its European premiere at Underbelly’s Circus Hub this Fringe

  • Largest American circus in the world makes European debut at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
  • UniverSoul captures the energy of urban communities through an unparalleled interactive mix of hip hop, theatrics and outstanding circus arts
  • Colossal cast includes the finest and freshest circus artists from across the world including the US, Africa and Cuba

“The Coolest Show on Earth” Newsweek Magazine

“Show Stopping Spectacle” People Magazine

“Cirque du Soul” The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Having electrified US audiences for 25 years, America’s largest circus makes it’s European premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. UniverSoul: Hip-Hop Under the Big Top, combines edge-of-your-seat performances, stunning spectacle, hilarious audience participation and a soundtrack that will blow the roof off the big top tent!

UniverSoul Circus will open at The Underbelly Circus Hub this August boasting some of the most phenomenal acts ever to grace center ring! Leading the charge will be Ringmaster Lucky Malatsi of South Africa, a multitalented entertainer who brings his unbridled energy to every performance. Joining Lucky will be US internet hip hop dance sensation Fresh the Clowns, fiery limbo spectacular from Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean Dynasty and The Willie Family, a six member troupe from Colombia to astound audiences with a never-before seen hire-wire act, to name but a few from a huge cast from the world’s finest circus acts.

UniverSoul Circus is more than a circus… it’s a one of a kind, unparalleled interactive mix of music, theatrics, and circus arts that takes you on a journey of unlimited possibilities. Unmatched on the world stage, UniverSoul Circus will push you into a world of urban prisms with its non-stop, high-octane Big Top production and unique style of entertainment for all the family.

The show was created by top US concert promoter Cedric Walker, who 25 years ago had a dream to produce a live entertainment family show that celebrated urban African American communities. Walker sought to recreate the wild energy he witnessed when working with the likes of The Commodors, Jackson Five and Run DMC in a new show which authentically captured urban culture, broke down the traditional barriers between audiences and performers and was suitable for families to enjoy together. Fast-forward 25 years and Walker’s vision, UniverSoul Circus, has entertained over 20 million people and is now firmly established as beloved and highly anticipated tradition in cities across the United States, featuring performers from across the world. Cedric Walker was recently inducted into the Circus Ring of Fame and continues to innovate and push the boundaries of circus performance, traveling the world to search out the freshest new talent to join the UniverSoul family.

UniverSoul Circus: Hip Hop under the Big Top is circus for a new generation and will set the stage a blaze this August at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!


Underbelly and UniverSoul Circus present

Universoul Circus: Hip Hop Under the Big Top

Venue: The Lafayette, The Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018

Dates: Sat 4th August – Sat 25th August, 5pm


Aug 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 7, 18, 19, 24, 25 £22.30 (£21.30)

Aug 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23


First review date: 7th August

Running time: 60 mins

Tickets available at



More acts will be announced in due course.

Ringmaster, Lucky Malatsi

South Africa

The UniverSoul Circus Ringmaster Lucky Malatsi, was born in Pretoria and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lucky has been performing in front of an audience since the age of four when he was trained by his Uncle Prince, an accomplished performer and acrobat. At the tender age of six, Lucky made his first international trip to perform as an acrobat for festivals in Germany. In 1999, while performing in South Africa, Lucky caught the attention of UniverSoul Circus Founder and President Cedric Walker who regularly travels the world looking for new talent. By 2000, at the age of 10, he was performing a duo contortionist act with fellow South African, Lunga. After 14 years with UniverSoul, Lucky brings new meaning to the term, multi-talented. He has been an acrobatic hip hop dancer, gymnast, trapeze artist, teeterboard, trampoline and acro-dunking with basketballs. But he admits his toughest act, with the greatest rewards, has been as Ringmaster. “It’s very exciting and challenging to be the Ringmaster,” he admits. “But it’s also hard work. I love everything I do for UniverSoul Circus. My family and I are truly blessed.”


Caribbean Dynasty

Caribbean Dance, Limbo and Stilts

Trinidad and Tobago

The exotic paradise of the Caribbean comes to life as dancers in vibrant and colorful costumes swing to the rhythms of the islands. Marvel at the agility of the dancers as they proudly perform the national dance of the Caribbean.  When the limbo bar goes to six inches from the floor – in a blaze of fire, it’s a spectacle to behold. Join in and clap your hands and dance as the energy, the beat and the pageantry of the Caribbean engulf the big top. The Caribbean dance team, in all its glory, is a perennial favorite at UniverSoul.


The Willie Family

Hire Wire


This six-person troupe is from Colombia, South America skillfully maintains balance while walking along a thin wire. And they perform these unbelievable acrobatic tricks an amazing 18 feet high. Training for this type of act requires much discipline and dedication. This incredible group spent more than a year perfecting their new act for its UniverSoul Circus debut. When asked what makes the UniverSoul Circus experience different from others, group member Dixie Meza responded emphatically: “Everything. The music, dancing, singing, just everything. The audience members are just as exciting as the performers. They are the performers!”


Duo Amour

Perch Pole Act


Making UniverSoul Circus their circus debut in 2018, Duo Amour is a truly unique aerial performance on the Perch Pole that is simply breathtaking. Getting their start only three years ago, the couple has trained extremely hard to perfect a beautiful love story told through fluid twists, bends, and turns. When asked what advice they would give to young performers, they stated: “You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot and be dedicated to your craft. The life of a performer is very challenging but super rewarding.”


Fresh the Clownsss


What started as a favor for a friend’s birthday party, turned into something larger than life. Hailing from Detroit, MI, Fresh the Clownsss bring a whole new meaning to the word clown! Forget the big red nose, big red shoes, and crazy ties . . . Fresh the Clownsss are always “swagged out” in the latest fashions and colorful hairstyles. The four members consider themselves unlike any clown brigade on the circuit today. The trio scouts the crowd daily for the best young dancers under the UniverSoul big top. Becoming an internet sensation in 2017 with their “Juju on the Beat” dance, our Clowns are taking it all in with a fresh perspective. Ira Smith, the group’s leader, was excited about their growing success: “We never thought that we would have so many fans. Traveling to different cities and touching kids all over the thru dance is the greatest feeling in the world.” When asked about his advice for young people he stated “Get an education and always believe in yourself no matter what.”


Bone Breakers


The bone breakers consist of four young men from Conakry, Guinea in West Africa. These guys are gifted with the ability to bend, twist, and distort their bodies in extreme ways. To maintain their flexibility, they often practice yoga. You can catch them doing the downward dog or a simple handstand in preparation for a show.


Teeterboard Act

Gabon, Guinea, Ethiopia & South Africa

They’re our African Dream Team – one of the most thrilling troupes one will ever witness from the entire African continent. UniverSoul Circus has brought these acrobats from Gabon, Guinea, Ethiopia, and South Africa together in a single ring. This high-powered group performs a rousing collection of daredevil stunts utilizing a teeterboard and the human body as a prop. Without teamwork, this Dream Team couldn’t possibly work. Its perfection in motion.

Claire Sweeney, Su Pollard, Brainiac Live!, Made in Chelsea stars, Hot Gay Time Machine and Adam Riches join Underbelly’s 2018 Edinburgh Fringe line-up!


Underbelly announces further 82 shows completing its dream line-up for the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

  • Claire Sweeney is one of the stars in musical extravaganza Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly featuring West End leading ladies and Burn The Floor present a newly created version and Fringe premiere of the Broadway and West End smash hit and world-wide phenomenon: Rebels of Ballroom
  • Su Pollard makes her theatre debut in Harpy, celebrated Guardian and BuzzFeed journalist Bim Adewunmi brings her debut Hoard to the Festival and much loved children’s TV hit, Brainiac Live! presents daily explosive fun for all the family.
  • In comedy, Made in Chelsea stars Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle offer their Private Parts to the Fringe audiences and Los Angeles’ leading funk band Thumpasaurus are back in Edinburgh to provide high-class late night entertainment.
  • Electro-trad Canadian circus stars Cirque Alfonse present the UK premiere of raucous circus rock musical TABARNAK and American circus legends UniverSoul Circus mark their European premiere with a large-scale spectacle bringing Hip Hop Under The Big Top.
  • Tickets on sale from 10am on Monday 14th May at

Today Underbelly announces a further 82 shows, providing a final dazzling flurry to complete it’s 2018 Fringe programme, the most ambitious in the company’s 19th year run. Featuring a mix of death-defying circus, contagious music and dance with critically acclaimed theatre makers and unforgettable comedy, this year’s programme has something for people of all ages, predispositions and predilections to enjoy.


This summer the West End’s leading ladies, including star of screen and stage Claire Sweeney will tread the boards of McEwan Hall! Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly presents a range of stars taking centre stage to perform songs from smash-hit West End and Broadway musicals and iconic movies for an epically special Underbelly Production. Full schedule of performers will be announced very soon.

The UK’s beloved TV star Su Pollard makes her theatre debut at Edinburgh Fringe with Harpy, a new play from Fringe First-winner Philip Meeks (Kiss Me Honey, Honey!) about hoarding. The play focuses on Birdie, a hoarder who the neighbours call a harridan and a harpy, although most have never even met her. What they see as rubbish, she considers her life’s work and it exists because years ago something deeply cherished was stolen, and Birdie’s not been able to give up anything since.

Underbelly’s ambitious theatre programme also features Angry AlanPenelope Skinner’s first play since 2015 which promises to be another critically acclaimed hit from one of the UK’s leading female playwrights. Penelope is the winner of the prestigious George Devine Award and has written for Channel 4 (Fresh Meat) and the big screen (How I Live Now, featuring Saoirse Ronan). A darkly comic and provocative new play about masculinity in crisis and the men’s right movement, Angry Alan focuses on Roger who – just as his life is about to collapse – discovers Alan: an online activist and a voice of reason.

Continuing this year’s strong theme of sisterhood is Hoard, a new play from the hugely popular Guardian and BuzzFeed journalist Bim Adewunmi. Hoard tells the story of a young woman and her two sisters, Rafi and Ami, facing up to Wura, their mother who doesn’t know of Brian, the young woman’s boyfriend. A touching story of a childhood past and struggles that divide a family.

KIN, a new play from the acclaimed playwright Max Dickins (The Man on the Moor and The Trunk) revolves around two estranged sisters reunited after 20 years at their father’s dying bed. In an airless room over a single night, they talk it out. How can you forgive the past when you can’t even agree on what it looks like? A gripping story of sibling rivalry examines the meaning of family.

Vessel is an urgent and insightful take on the issues surrounding illegal abortion. There is a woman. Woman is pregnant. Abortion is still illegal in her country. She will bring a court case against the government to demand a legal abortion. There is a man. Man is a journalist. He meets Woman and starts to cover her story. A story that will change the world. A story that will change his world. How far would you go for a cause you believed in? How far is too far?

Tackling the ever topical questions around immigration is Diary of An Expat, a one-woman show telling the comic story of young Italian woman, Cecilia, and her adventures in London – a contemporary El Dorado craved by generations of young Europeans. Cecilia has been trying to become British whilst remaining deeply Italian. Now, numerous dubious jobs and weird encounters later, she finds herself alone among the chaos of multi-ethnic London whilst the European dream of life abroad slowly drifts away.

OTOSOTR is a powerful story of 200,000 Koreans who were deported from the Russian-Korean boarder by the Soviet government in 1937 told from a perspective of Anatoliy Ogay, a Soviet soldier of Korean descent. This is a journey of a WWII hero who fought Nazis in Berlin in 1945, survived the communist regime in 1991 and preserved his Korean identity throughout his life – told by his grandson.

First play from a BAFTA Award-winning and Emmy-nominated TV and film director Beryl RichardsDiamond tells the story of a successful surgeon Jordan Sullivan meeting his birth mother for the first time and rejecting her. When she passes away, he realises that he may never know the truth about where he came from. The arrival of a mysterious young woman may just be the catalyst to change everything as he embarks on a journey of discovery and redemption.

New from the acclaimed Dawn State Theatre Company is Gulliver Returns: a haunting new play about broken dreams, enduring love and the weird world we live in, inspired by Jonathan Swift’s timeless masterpiece. Lil’s husband is lost in Gulliver’s Travels and now she has a mission of mercy to perform. No matter what the cost, she must find a way to drag this broken man out of his fantasy. She must find a way to bring him home.

Debut solo show from Barbican’s Young Poet and former Roundhouse Resident Artist Kit Finnie comes Mabel and Mickey, a ghost story for a new generation, and a fresh response to an ongoing Hollywood crisis. What happens when you try to tell someone else’s story, but they’re not done talking? Kit has written a show about Mabel Normand, a notorious 1910s movie star, and the murder case that swallowed her legacy. But there are pigeons cooing in the walls of the theatre and she keeps getting calls about a strange woman in her flat…

Funny and unsettling, Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve F****d by Rob Hayes returns to Underbelly following a critically-acclaimed 2016 run! One-night stands are awkward. One-night stands with animals are more awkward. And when you’re as desperate to please as Bobby, things get really awkward…

Onstage Dating sees Bron going on first dates – live onstage! Featuring a different person each night, this hilarious and award-winning show has thrilled at festivals all over the world with its unique insight into the world of online dating. Watch first-hand as Onstage Dating takes modern romance to the next level – all in front of the audience.

Family programme

Taking over the McEwan Hall daily at 11am is Brainiac Live! The show, based on the award-winning television series, is ‘all good educational fun!’ (The Guardian) and one of the best live science shows accessible to little scientists of all stages of advancement! Featuring exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves and loads of live daredevil stunts, Brainiac Live! takes its audiences on a breathless ride through the wild world of the weird and wonderful. Do not try this at home!

Beowulf tells the story of a nine-year-old Sophie who, similarly to the bravest of the Anglo-Saxon heroes, has to fight terrifying monsters: her mum, professor of Old English who taught her to read a language that none have spoken in this country for over 900 years, is dying and Sophie’s life is changing beyond her control. A moving tale of love and loss told from a child’s perspective.


Inspired by the village church that was once the gathering place of the small Quebec community where they grew up, the award-winning Cirque Alfonse have created their newest production, TABARNAK. This rock musical and circus extravaganza is an invitation to come together in a celebration of heaven and hell and everything in between. An unbridled high mass of entertainment reaching for the sky all performed in the inimitable style of Cirque Alfonse who brought the hugely popular BARBU to Edinburgh Fringe in 2015.

America’s ‘coolest show on Earth!’ (Newsweek) comes to the UK for the first time, having delighted over 20 million people in the US with their stunning, large-scale spectacles for 25 years! Hip-Hop under the Big Top from UniverSoul Circus combines edge-of-your-seat acrobatics, slapstick comedy, jaw-dropping contortionists, Caribbean limbo fire-dancers and global internet sensations Fresh The Clowns with hilarious audience participation, and a soundtrack that will blow the roof off the tent! The show is created especially for Edinburgh audiences for a European premiere Circolombia is back at Circus Hub with their critically-acclaimed 2017 hit, breath-taking and adrenaline-fuelled mix of circus artistry and hip-hop bound to put a spring in everyone’s step!


Straight from a successful Adelaide Fringe run, Edinburgh Fringe favourite Kevin Quantum is back with a new show for people of all ages, Vanishing Point. Enter a zone where the rules of nature are bent and broken… impossible illusions and disappearances brought to the audiences by the magician-scientist hybrid tutored by American legends Penn & Teller.


Made in Chelsea stars Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle are hitting the Fringe with their Private Parts ahead of a UK tour. The two lovable gents are treading the boards with the live, laugh-a-minute extravaganza developed from their hit podcast Private Parts. They have promised to share all the intimate and sordid details of their private lives, including gossip from both on and off the screen, so don’t miss out!

Garry Starr Performs Everything in his first solo character comedy show. Following his dismissal from the Royal Shakespeare Company for multiple counts of gross misconduct he is determined to defy his critics by mounting his own production in which he will perform every genre of the arts in under 60 mins! Will he succeed? Probably not.

Best-selling Australian feminist author Kathy Lette presents Girl’s Talk, a psychological strip tease with tales of love, lust, men, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, mastitis, sexist bosses, teenage-daughter-wrangling, ageing, toy boys, and Close Encounters of the George Clooney Kind, en route.

Kathy also talks poignantly about the trials, tribulations and hilarity of raising a child on the autistic spectrum. From the time Jules came home from school with a sign sticky-taped to his back saying ‘Kick me I’m a retard’ to his success playing Jason on Holby City.

In a new exciting site-specific show Adam Riches Is The Guy Who… you meet right after you come out of a long-term relationship. He has a nice smile, an easy manner and no car. The Comedy Award winner takes this intimate look at one of the planet’s most deliberate men. As sensitive as soap and twice as slippery. Beware. Be very, very aware.

Following a stonking set on Live at the Apollo, Chris McCausland returns to Edinburgh Fringe with a new show, Speaky Blinder. He’s blind. He’s a dad. He’s a husband. He’s third in command. He’ll speaky about all of that, and loads more.  He’s a Comedy Central regular who has also performed with Jimmy Carr and Miranda Hart on shows across BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

Two talented American comedians present Camp Be Yourself, a surreal and anarchic two-woman comedy packed with glitter, bug juice and desperation. Camp counsellors Emily and Betsy are here to help you figure it all out. This is adulthood. No one is going to take your trash out for you. Welcome to Camp Be Yourself! For those of you that can’t be yourself in real life, you Camp Be Yourself here.

Los Angeles’ leading funk band Thumpasaurus is back this year to provides high-class, late night entertainment of music and comedy at the White Belly. Catch Thump letting loose with their jazz school training and spinning funky tales of aliens, animals, and the Space Barn each weekend of the Fringe. Book now to avoid disappointment!

Norwegian-American comedy duo Zach and Viggo team up with Thumpasaurus to present a brand new musical, Where Does The Love Go?. Watch this space!

Dance and cabaret

Having broken the boundaries of ballroom and set pulses racing around the world, including smash hit West End and Broadway runs for over twenty years, the phenomenalBurn the Floor: Rebels of Ballroom bring a specially created show which has been crafted over the past two years by ground-breaking Australian choreographers Jason Gilkison and Peta Rob for a sensational Fringe premiere.

Break-dancing masters from Japan, Wasabeats Crew, present the European premiere of Break Free featuring champion break dancers, each with world titles, who are ready to carve up the floor to reach dizzying new heights! This crew are world-class urban dancers, fusing the very best in skill and technique, state of the art technology and a thumping soundscape, alongside breath-taking never before seen tricks! Break Free is the ultimate breakdance fairy-tale suitable for all the family.

First time ever at Underbelly, Silent Adventures become Edinburgh’s resident silent disco troupe with their famous Silent Disco Tours. Don the magical headphones and feel the inhibitions evaporate as you groove through the city. Expect song, dance, flash-mobs and surprises in the most feel-good hour of the summer.

Following a hugely successful run at Vault Festival, American cabaret performer Tori Scott presents Thirsty, a show about drinking produced by Fringe First winning Robin Rayner (Fabric, 2016). Named one of Time Out New York’s Top 10 Cabaret Artists, Tori makes her Fringe debut with a shameless musical journey of slurred autobiographical stories (and songs written by other people). Join her as she celebrates poor life choices and an unconditional love of vodka to the music of Aretha Franklin, Judy Garland, Miley Cyrus and more!

Strike a pose at the gay and glamorous Les Odalisques inaugural gala, Full Throttle! A riotous romp of light-hearted frivolity and hot-headed hijinks on and off the stage. Sultry starlets Tatiana Diavoletto and Bleu Phoenix simper and seethe with pent-up frustration as their stage ambitions are thwarted by a West End director…

Zak and Toby, as they take you on an extravaGAYnza of outrageous dances and hilarious comedy in Hot Gay Time Machine! Covering all the moments of a gay man’s life, from coming out to navigating the politics of the locker room, don’t miss this ‘riotous but subtly moving’ musical party.

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors of Underbelly said: “Today, Su Pollard’s theatrical debut, Made In Chelsea rogues Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle’s Private Parts and blistering ballroom with Burn the Floor join comedy legends, Rory Bremner, Helen Lederer and Nina Conti, family favourites Julia Donaldson and Dick and Dom, the finest circus from around the world alongside a raft of brave, challenging and seriously impressive theatre and new writing to complete what is our boldest, biggest and brightest programme in our 19 year Fringe history.

“2018 is massive year for Underbelly as we return to the iconic McEwan Hall, welcome newly created venues, and maintain our core and much loved sites from the Circus Hub on the Meadows, Underbelly George Square and of course, our original home Underbelly Cowgate.

“We are very ready for Fringe 2018. Our call is now to audiences – come frolic in our Fringe pastures, graze on our belting shows and lap up our infectious atmosphere. Get involved in a Fringe experience like no other, get involved in an Underbelly Fringe.”

Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrates biggest ever season with 13% increase in ticket sales

Edinburgh Christmas
Edinburgh Christmas

Edinburgh Christmas

2017 marked the fifth year of Underbelly producing Edinburgh’s Christmas for the City of Edinburgh Council and the biggest ever year for the city’s six weeks long festive celebrations!

A record-breaking 781,520 tickets were snapped up to Edinburgh’s Christmas rides, attractions and shows, a 13% increase on last year’s 690,878 tickets with people from 47 countries enjoying all that Edinburgh’s Christmas has to offer.

Locals got in on the action too and took advantage of their 20% discount with 142,333 tickets booked by Edinburgh residents, up 9% on 2016’s number.

Edinburgh’s Christmas’s East Princes Street Gardens Christmas Market was also named as the best in UK (in a survey conducted by McCarthy & Stone).

1290 children from Edinburgh schools submitted their stained-glass artworks with the theme of 2050 Edinburgh City Vision to the Winter Windows competition with the 44 winners from 33 schools displayed in 5 different locations around Edinburgh: West Parliament Square, outside St Giles just off the Royal Mile, in Leith’s Kirkgate Plaza, Craigmillar Library, Drumbrae Library and Westside Plaza, Westerhailes.

Brand new this year, Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar, a free outdoor attraction created by Underbelly and Double Take Projections, was projected onto General Register House each evening from 1 December until 24 December, revealing one exciting glimpse into Edinburgh’s winter history every day for the enjoyment of the passers-by.

The Ice Adventure: A Journey Through Frozen Scotland attracted crowds to the west end of George Street, admiring over 200 ice sculptures charting Scottish history and mythology, including Robert The Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, Kelpies, Loch Ness monster and fairies.

Festival Square Spiegeltent hosted the one and only La Clique Noël, an outrageous and unforgettable night of cabaret and burlesque, featuring the sword-swallowing, fire-breathing Heather Holliday, Craig the Incredible Hula Boy and spandex-wrapped Scotty the Blue Bunny, among others.

In a partnership with Edinburgh Trams, Edinburgh’s Christmas invited schoolchildren from across the city to design a special Christmas and Hogmanay tram to brighten up the city’s streets this winter.

Almost 1.8M people watched Edinburgh’s Christmas vlog entry from a popular vlogger Zoella!

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors, Edinburgh’s Christmas said: “What another bumper year with record tickets sales and more locals than ever engaging in Edinburgh’s Christmas. In our fifth year of producing the event, we were delighted to introduce some great new attractions, most especially the Ice Adventure which transported visitors into an historical and mythical Scottish winter wonderland.

“We are especially proud 0f the extension of Winter Windows out of the city centre and into local communities and of the introduction of Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar – both entirely free attractions that help spread Christmas joy across the city.”

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross said: “Edinburgh’s Christmas was a real show-stopper, with more tickets sold than ever before, a welcome rise in the number of Edinburgh residents enjoying their local discount, and people from 47 countries flying in to experience the city’s rides, attractions and everything the city has to offer.

“In its fifth year, Edinburgh’s Christmas certainly remains one of the UK’s favourite winter destinations. Today’s figures prove the Festival continues to attract record numbers of visitors and supports footfall to the city centre – providing a welcome boost to our local economy while bringing everyone together to enjoy Edinburgh in winter. A huge well done to everyone involved.”

John Donnelly, Chief Executive, Marketing Edinburgh said: “Edinburgh’s Christmas 2017 offering exceeded expectations and has proven incredibly popular with visitors and residents alike. To have the city recognised as hosting the UK’s best Christmas Market was a huge highlight.  The expansion of the event’s footprint, stretching it from General Register House at the East End of Princes Street to Festival Square, was particularly successful in encouraging people to further explore the city centre’s shops, bars and restaurants.”

Roddy Smith, Chief Executive of Essential Edinburgh said: “We are delighted that Edinburgh’s Christmas continues to go from strength to strength, with the numbers of both visitors and locals enjoying all that the festive season in the city can offer up again this year.

“The Edinburgh’s Christmas celebration, which is supported by Essential Edinburgh, is recognised throughout the world as making Scotland’s Capital the place to be at this time of year, driving footfall, trade and opportunities for our retail and hospitality sectors in particular at this vital trading time.”


New Diorama 2018 Artist Development programme ft Underbelly /Hotel for Theatre Companies

David Byrne

David Byrne

  • New Diorama announce plans to offer more support for emerging and mid-career artists than ever before – with genuinely innovative schemes and opportunities not on offer anywhere else.
  • A major three-year partnership with Underbelly to provide unprecedented support to help some of the UK’s best theatre companies bring shows to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
  • New Diorama become the first London fringe venue to have a hotel partner – teaming up with arts-led hotel, Green Rooms, to offer free rooms and £15 beds for artists coming to London.
  • New Diorama’s Artist Development Programme is supported by Arts Council England, and our 2018/19 Artist Development Sponsor is The Mandy Network.

New Diorama Theatre’s award-winning artist development programme, launched in early 2016, was described by Exeunt as “the most exciting artist development plan Britain has ever seen”. On 30th November, NDT are launching their updated offering for early and mid-career theatre companies – without question their most exciting yet.

Headlining New Diorama’s new programme is a major new partnership with Underbelly. Each year, for the next three years, theUntapped Award presented by Underbelly and New Diorama will support nine companies – three each year – removing the barriers that prevent some of the most talented groups from showcasing their work at the Fringe.

New Diorama’s Artistic & Executive Director, David Byrne, says “this is genuinely the best and most exciting opportunity for theatre ensembles and companies wanting to present their work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Alongside a £3,000 investment in each chosen group, they’ll receive a great slot at Underbelly – with no venue deposit or guarantee, press support paid for, a flyering team, free marketing support and an enhanced box office split. We’re even going to pay for access performances for every selected group. We really believe it’ll be game-changing for the successful early and mid-career companies selected”.

Marina Dixon and Vikki Mizon, Heads of Programming, Underbelly, said “Underbelly is delighted to be working in partnership with New Diorama Theatre to award three outstanding theatre companies the fantastic opportunity to present their shows at the Fringe. This award is one of the best opportunities for the Edinburgh Fringe, making a run in Edinburgh achievable for new ensemble work, allowing new productions to be presented at the highest level.

“Underbelly has run a scheme supporting new writing at the Fringe for the last six years, and has a proven track record of discovering fantastic new talent. This new three-year partnership with New Diorama Theatre is particularly exciting to us because NDT share our commitment and passion for supporting new artists. Together we hope to discover and develop some of the exceptional talent the UK has to offer.”

Applications for the Untapped Award presented by Underbelly and New Diorama will be open on the 30th November 2017 and close on 28th January 2018.

One of the biggest additions to the Artist Development Programme is a partnership with Green Rooms Hotel. With so many of New Diorama’s supported companies coming from outside of London, and accommodation being a major prohibitive factor in companies making the trip, the partnership will mean NDT can offer an allocation of rehearsal space, free rooms and, when they are exhausted, a discounted offer of £15 a bed for artists and groups.

Green Rooms’ Sylvia Dietz said:

 Green Rooms is the UK’s first arts-led independent social enterprise hotel. We opened in May 2016 and our mission is to support artists and creatives with affordable accommodation and event spaces in a beautiful setting that inspires creativity. As such we are an integral part of the London arts community and are delighted to join forces with the New Diorama Theatre and support the great work they are doing in that field. We understand that London is becoming an increasingly unaffordable place for many artists and Green Room is helping to bridge that gap.

As a partner of the New Diorama Theatre we are excited to support their unique Artist Development Programme and very much look forward to welcoming young theatre companies from all over the UK and offer their artists a place to stay, a base where creative ideas and some brilliant ventures will be conceived.”

New Diorama are also working to share our expertise with artists who are not currently supported by the theatre. Starting in January 2018, NDT will be offering artist surgeries once a month – offering advice to any groups who book an appointment.

Alongside these new opportunities, NDT will be enhancing our existing programme by:

  1. More than doubling the number of grants we offer to student companies who can’t afford the £98 to enter productions toNational Student Drama Festival.
  2. Continuing our Cash-Flow loans, lending up to £4,000 to companies, interest-free. We’re increasing the pot of money that these funds come from to £12,000. Since the scheme was announced, New Diorama has lent over £200,000 to our supported companies, unlocking numerous opportunities that would have otherwise been out of reach.
  3. Boosting the number of benefits on offer to all our supported groups – including piloting a Funding Application Library, so new groups can read successful funding applications to better understand how to access further funds for their work.
  4. INCOMING Festival will continue in partnership with A Younger Theatre, but will be growing significantly in 2018 – happening simultaneously in London at New Diorama and in Manchester at HOME, with all tickets remaining only £5.

New Diorama are also committed to securing more rehearsal space after our successful ND2 project comes to an end in Spring 2018. During the project, New Diorama has offered over 50 weeks of free rehearsal space to diversity-led groups and over 70 weeks of free space to  NDT supported companies.

Artistic Director David Byrne says “when we opened in 2010, we had the ambition of being the first “companies’ theatre”, supporting ensembles both with their artistic and organisational development. This new programme of support is the culmination of all our work so far. While all theatre companies are different, many face the same hurdles. We hope these new ideas and innovations will keep many of the most exceptional theatre companies in the UK making their best work for years to come.”

The Mandy Network will be New Diorama’s Artist Development Sponsor 2018/19. brings together the world’s largest network of actors, backstage and theatre professionals working in the UK today. Collaborating throughout the year, will start by supporting New Diorama in creating an application portal for the many opportunities on offer.

Austentatious to make West End Debut, Underbelly to Produce

Edinburgh’s Christmas and Spiegeltent International announce La Clique Noel

La Clique Noël
La Clique Noël

La Clique Noël

  • The international hit La Clique returns to Edinburgh with a new show at the Festival Square Spiegeltent on Lothian Road as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas 2017. 
  • La Clique Noel will be the headline show at Edinburgh’s Christmas. 
  • The outrageous and unforgettable theatrical phenomenon La Clique brings its trademark inspirational mix of cabaret, new burlesque, circus and contemporary vaudeville in a new, sexy, dangerous show which is over your head, under your skin, and below the belt.
  • 17 November 2017 – 6 January 2018, Festival Square Spiegeltent on Lothian Road as part of the Edinburgh’s Christmas programme of events. 
  • Underbelly produces Edinburgh’s Christmas on behalf of City of Edinburgh Council for the fifth year. The full programme of events will be launched on 20 September 2017
  • Check out more details at 

Born out of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2004 in a genius moment by David Bates, owner and producer of The Famous Spiegeltent, La Clique has gone on to global acclaim and sell out audiences across the world, including Sydney, New York, Montreal, Brighton, Adelaide, London and of course Edinburgh. La Clique returns home to the scene of the crime – Edinburgh – for a very special seasonal treat; La Clique Noël.

With its dysfunctional collection of extraordinary new artists and don’t-miss favourites, the show will feature a scintillating live band and the best of the best in  adult, genre-bending, New Variety from the subterranean world of circus, comedy, cabaret, variety, magic, burlesque and subversive performance clubs.

Previous much loved acts have included Boys in baths, twins in fish bowls, disappearing red hankies, Blue Rabbits, spinning Elvises and magic dragons. This special Christmas collection for Edinburgh will be no exception. La Clique Noël is compulsory Christmas fun and the perfect night out!

David Bates said: “We’re coming home for Christmas! We’ve got some saucy seasonal treats in store for Scotland this winter with some new international acts that will bend your minds and bring the fishnets to your Christmas stocking!”

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors of Underbelly and Edinburgh’s Christmas said: “We want to offer audiences a five-star night out where the live entertainers will have them on the edge of their seats with their hearts in their mouths. La Clique is the best of its kind in the world and we’re delighted they are going to spice up Christmas in Scotland’s capital this year. Tickets go on sale for La Clique Noël now, but we will reveal the rest of the programme, including family shows and new attractions on Wednesday 20 September. We look forward to sharing new and exciting elements of Edinburgh’s Christmas with you then.”

The Lord Provost, Frank Ross, said: “Last year, Edinburgh’s Christmas drew over one million visitors and regulars will be delighted to hear festival favourites La Clique will be making a return. They are real crowd-pleasers, not just in Edinburgh but all over the world. I’m looking forward to the full programme details for our Christmas festivities being revealed later in the year.”

Tickets for La Clique Noël go on sale today (15 June). The full programme for Edinburgh’s Christmas will be released on Wednesday 20 September 2017.


La Clique Noël

Festival Square  Spiegeltent, Lothian Road

17 November 2017 to 6 January 2018 at 8.00pm Monday to Friday, 6.00pm and 9.00pm Fridays, 5.00pm and 8.00pmSaturdays

Tickets starting from £19.50 weekdays, from £24.50 weekends (from £14.50 previews) are available to book now at and 0131 510 0395

Running time: 120 minutes, includes an interval. 

No age restrictions. Show contains adult content such as strong language and nudity. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

One Square Restaurant is teaming up with Edinburgh’s Christmas to offer audiences for La Clique in the Festival Square Spiegeltent tickets to the show and a festive dining and parking package:

Edinburgh residents discount:


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Elixir – the smash hit zombie spectacle returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!



Thought science wasn’t sexy? Enter Elixir, making a killer return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. With a potent mix of chemical balance and imbalance, new school death defying acrobatics, old school slapstick and an injection of Australian testosterone, Elixir will challenge perceptions and set pulses racing.

Elixir is circus with a difference! Uninhibited by cliché or expectation, subversive and hilarious, this all Australian production follows the story of three enthusiastic, slightly bumbling yet skilfully acrobatic scientists who attempt to create the elixir of life. The mayhem that follows is a beautiful mix of incredible acrobatics and impeccable comic timing. The scientists test their concoctions on themselves, and the madness that breaks loose in the laboratory is the perfect mix of amazing acrobatics, comedic misadventure and an engrossing narrative.

More than just jokes, thrills and spills, Melbourne based Head First Acrobats have re-crafted the smash hit 2016 show that sees them not only raise the dead but throw them, spin them and test whether zombies can bounce. Acrobats fly five metres into the air on the teeterboard, spin upside down on the mesmerizing cyr wheel, perform incredible one-arm handstands on wobbling canes and balance on nothing but their heads on the swinging trapeze.

The three members of Head First Acrobats (HFA) are all graduates of the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). Based out of Melbourne, the award winning entertainment company provide world-class circus and physical theatre performance. Elixir is the first show from the company which toured internationally in 2016 to sell out shows and rave reviews. Elixirwas voted in the top 10 shows of Adelaide Fringe in 2015, and won the First and Foremost Entertainment award in its UK debut at Brighton Fringe 2015.

High powered acrobatics, a brilliant stumble of slapstick and a shimmy of burlesque” (The Herald)

‘Raucous, late night circus with mesmerising skill’ (

Overwhelmingly fun atmosphere” (

Twitter: @hfacrobats

Facebook: HeadFirstAcrobats

Instagram: @headfirstacrobats



Underbelly and Head First Acrobats present:


Venue: The Beauty, The Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017

Dates: Fri 4th August – Sat 26 August, (not 9th, 14th or 21st), 22.15pm


Aug 4, £10

Aug 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, £12.50 (£11.50)

Aug 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, £14.50 (£13.50)

Running time: 60mins

Tickets available at and

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Circus Hub returns bigger and better with an incredible international line-up at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017