When it comes to theatre festivals, summer is definitely the best time of year! All across the UK, you’ll find experimental fringe shows, outdoor theatre and, must-see performances across drama, dance, physical theatre, musicals and everything in-between. Many of the nation’s exciting festivals are already underway, so here’s a roundup of some of the best festivals for you to grab your tickets for, before they sell out.


29th June – 16th July

The bi-annual festival which has been amazing audiences since 2007 is back for 2017. The Manchester International Festival is a unique programme of new, original work bringing together different art forms and creatives from all over the world. As always, the line-up is incredible which makes choosing the must-see shows very difficult.

Perhaps the most interesting piece which sparks our interest is Party Skills for the End of the World, which has been specifically created for MIF by theatre collective Shunt. This immersive show is more of a challenge and adventure than a theatre performance – it even comes with a warning to wear sensible footwear.

Greater Manchester Fringe Festival

1st July-31st July

Running at the same time as the international festival is the city’s fringe festival – it seems that Manchester is the new Edinburgh! The Fringe Festival seems to be growing year on year, with 2017 seeing a colossal 650 performances across Greater Manchester. The timetable runs from 1st-31st July, and offers everything from one-man comedy shows to exciting new writing.

Again there are far too many great shows to mention, but a play performed in complete darkness sounds intriguing. The full title of the performance at the Hope Mill Theatre is THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE TRAGIC LIFE AND TRIUMPHANT DEATH OF JULIA PASTRANA THE UGLIEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD and it has five star reviews from major critics.


7th-10th September

Even though it is primarily a music festival, Bestival has established itself as one of the most creative all-rounder festivals in the UK and even Europe. The event might not be able to boast leading comedy and theatre stages, however there’s a lot more going on than just headline music acts. There’s a parade every single night featuring puppetry and magical artwork, circus acts bring the fields to life and you can also try your hand at swing dancing. Alternatively find your artistic side and attend a paint party in the woods – there’s something for everyone.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

4th-28th August

Undoubtedly the world’s biggest arts festival, Ed Fringe is an absolute must for anybody who loves watching theatre. This year marks the festival’s 70th birthday so it’s set to be an extraordinary celebration. It’s impossible to cherry pick from the huge variety of shows but we’d love to check out Locker Room Talk, a response to Trump, and if you like dance don’t miss Company Chordelia’s Lady Macbeth: unsex me here.

It’s a fantastic summer for performing arts – what will you be watching?


Image: Jane Horrocks in Cotton Panic! at MIF by Charl Marais