The Best Free Shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Performers, Scotland
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Performers, Scotland | © David Monteith-Hodge / Courtesy of Festival Fringe Society
Photo of Tori Chalmers
10 September 2018

From emerging stars and big name acts, to the surreal and the brilliant, one of the most appealing parts of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is its open and inclusive nature, which is accentuated by the dazzling spread of free shows. Since there’s literally a show for everyone about practically everything, check out our Fringe free show guide to help get the shenanigans started.

Comedy Car Ft. Andrew Maxwell

Catch comedy star Andrew Maxwell (Live at the Apollo and Have I Got News For You) in the back of a car and laugh until you cry from his uproarious banter, razor-sharp wit and wonderfully acerbic remarks. Yes, this legend has teamed up with Uber to create a one-of-a-kind travelling venue. Whilst cruising around Edinburgh, Maxwell’s Comedy Car festivities will run for 15-minute slots and can be booked through the app or Fringe website.

Mat Ricardo vs The World

Award-winning cabaret star and the ‘UK’s greatest juggler’ Mat Ricardo is bringing Mat Ricardo vs The World to Edinburgh. After three decades of being the ultimate trickster with superhuman dexterity, Ricardo ran out of fresh tricks. This new act is the result of a bet he made with the world — the one when he insisted he could learn whatever mad tricks were hurled his way! From magic and outstanding juggling, to escapology, sleight of hand, knife-throwing, stand-up and more, expect to be wowed.

Juggling Act | © moise_theodor / Pixabay


Those searching for some hot new writing and theatre should look no further than Wings. A comedy as heart-wrenching as it is hilarious, the play features stand-up comedian Eve and sitcom writer James, whose relationship (as funny as it is) is on the brink. When Eva has the mother of all gigs, James must stop it at all costs, because, as she’s a comedian, all the jokes are aimed at him! Endearing yet funny to the core.

Oxford Revue

Jam-packed with a rotating bill of sketch, stand-up and musical comedy acts, Oxford Revue showcases the latest and greatest from the University of Oxford’s premier sketch comedy troupe. And wow, they are funny! Featuring top emerging talent, this one is notoriously witty and will leave even the most serious souls grinning from ear to ear. One of the the best comedy hours out there, it’s classic banter.

'Foiled', Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 | © David Monteith-Hodge / Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Twenty Minutes To Nine

Through a mixture of live musical soundscapes, spoken word and storytelling, Twenty Minutes To Nine artfully explores what it’s like to deal with loss. This raw and bravely honest autobiographical solo show was nominated for Best Performance at Melbourne Fringe and will no doubt capture Edinburgh’s audiences also.

Gráinne Maguire: What Has the News Ever Done for Me?

A sell-out show at last year’s Fringe (make sure to get there early), What Has The News Ever Done For Me? is political satire at its finest. Hosted by Gráinne Maguire, every new day welcomes three different comedians each eager to present what they feel is currently the most important news story, while arguing of course, why you should too! From Brexit to Trump tweets, and Meghan Markle’s shiny new shoes, this one’s a recipe for unrestrained fun.

What Has the News Ever Done for Me? | © Kayla Velasquez / Unsplash

A Booklover’s Comedy Show

Between Edinburgh’s rich literary heritage, Scotland’s reputation for world-class writers and the uncanny ability of the Scots to tell a darn good story, it seems only fitting to have a Fringe show that caters to the hearts of book lovers. Without doubt the go-to show for all bibliophiles, A Booklover’s Comedy Show features a rotating bill of guest storytellers and comedians talking about all things books! From life-changing reads to that one time they let loose with Salman Rushdie, what’s not to love?

Full Moon Cabaret

Adding a whole load of spice to Fringe life is the wonderfully raunchy Full Moon Cabaret crew. Brought to you from Berlin, these cabaret starlets have mastered the immersive art party experience (complete with burlesque and a variety of subversive surprises). This devilishly cheeky show is destined to ‘subjugate the world to its eccentric erotica and deviant decadency’ while celebrating ‘the lunacy within us all’. An unmitigated pleasure palace.

Cabaret Performers | © hsvbooth / Pixabay

Angel Comedy Showcase

Calling all comedy super fans — you don’t want to miss this beauty! For the very first time, Time Out-recommended comedy institution Angel Comedy (Chortle Awards Winner of Best Comedy Club in the UK 2015, 2017 and 2018) is bringing an epic showcase to Edinburgh featuring award-winning comedians and must-see emerging acts. Prepare to laugh until you can do so no more.

Free Fringe Festival Music: Live On The Grassmarket

The Grassmarket is a party hub at any time of year but add the Free Fringe Festival Music and you’re looking at a match made in heaven. Daily line-ups with a ginormous selection of acoustic sessions, duos, bands, rock, folk music, singers and so much more are all part of the fun. Show up and embrace the beats.

'Counting Sheep', Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland | © David Monteith-Hodge / © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

String Theory

Starring celebrated circus star and comedian Martin Mor, String Theory is comedy for kids with some ultra fancy circus work thrown in. While answering life’s most ambiguous questions like ‘how long is a piece of string?’ or ‘how much laughing can you do in an hour?’, this gem of a personality will leave both children and adults in stitches for days. Along with being the chosen support act for comedians like Frankie Boyle, Lee Evans and Jack Dee, Mor was also part of the team that performed at Mount Everest’s base camp, setting the world record for the highest-altitude comedy show.

Virgin Money Street Events

One of the greatest parts of the Fringe is the outpouring of street artists at the Virgin Money Street Events. Found making magic either on the Royal Mile or the Mound Precinct, these talented performers (think mind-blowing street shows, buskers and entertainers of all kinds) show up every day in August to put on an array of enchanting acts for free. The equally enthralling arts and crafts fairs purvey a wealth of worldly objects. Four stages frequently show free sneak previews of hundreds of shows and are a handy way to select your next pick.

'Guru Dudu Silent Disco Walking Tours', Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland | © David Monteith-Hodge / Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

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