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Comedy festivals to rival the Edinburgh Fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival kicks off this weekend but won’t worry if work or travel costs mean that you’re not going to make it. There are plenty of other festivals to go to get your funny bone tickled and we’ve rounded up the best of them.

Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Glasgow

Glasgow: home to the biggest comedy festival in Europe

Glasgow: home to the biggest comedy festival in Europe


Despite having such a well-known neighbour, Glasgow (only 30-minutes’ on the train from Edinburgh) actually hosts the biggest comedy festival in Europe. Running every March since 2002, the Glasgow International Comedy Festival has an outstanding lineup. Showcasing homegrown comedians like Sue Perkins, Bridget Christie, Omid Djalili, and Frankie Boyle, alongside international talent like Nicole Henriksen and Henning Wehn.

The festivals venues are spread across Glasgow, although the bigger names tend to perform in the City Centre and West End. Choose your accommodation strategically and book into City Apartments Scotland, less than 5-minutes’ walk from The Stand Comedy Club.

Johannesburg International Comedy Festival, Johannesburg

One of the many stages at the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival

One of the many stages at the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival


Billed as Africa’s biggest comedy festival, the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival launched in 2015 and was hosted by The Daily Show host, Trevor Noah. Two years later and the line up includes Nigerian comedian Basketmouth, Kenyan-born Imran Yusuf, South African Celeste Ntuli, and a special showcase of female comedians.

The multi-lingual festival encourages acts to perform in their own languages, leading to a boisterous, convivial atmosphere, and is based in the Braamfontein precinct of Johannesburg. The Once in Joburg is a great base for exploring the whole area and has free onsite parking.

Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, New York

Jamestown, hosting the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival

Jamestown, hosting the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival


The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is based in the eponymous comedian’s birthplace, Jamestown in New York, and is organised annually by the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Centre. To give you an idea of what’s in store; the latest lineup included George Carlin, W. Kamau Bell, ‘standup scientist’ Sophie Scott, and Curb Your Enthusiasm director David Steinberg.

There are also roller derby matches, historic tours of Jamestown, and comedy workshops throughout the weekend. After a long day wandering between acts (and potentially dusting off your skates) the Holiday Inn Express is less than 10-minutes’ drive from the venue and has a pool.

Just For Laughs Festival, Montreal

Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal

Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal


The largest comedy festival in the world started out as a two day French language event in Montreal. 35 years later and Just For Laughs Festival has stretch to two jampacked weeks, over a thousand shows in multiple languages, and big name headliners like Jim Carrey, Laverne Cox, and Jane Krakowski.

Just For Laughs has been praised for its diverse lineup and the festival culminates in a parade through the street of the downtown Montreal Quartier des Spectacles. This can lead to busier streets so newcomers are advised to stay in an accommodation near to the venue at the Residence La Citadelle.

Busan International Comedy Festival, South Korea

Busan city skyline at night

Busan city skyline at night


2017 will be the 5th year of the Busan International Comedy Festival. The Busan Comedy Festival was the first of its kind in South Korea and is the largest comedy festival in Asia. It has developed a reputation for scheduling a broad, international range of comedians and performers.

Running for 10 days at the end of August, the festival’s focus tends to be on the theatrical, the slapstick, and audience participation. For a bright and communal place to stay, with the chance of meeting your fellow festival attendees, check into the Seri Inn Guesthouse in the centre of Busan.