Edinburgh Festival 2022: best shows and events to book now

What’s on at the fringe and international festivals in Scotland’s capital city

Ian McKellen performing in Hamlet at the Theatre Royal in Windsor in 2021
Ian McKellen performing in Hamlet at the Theatre Royal in Windsor in 2021
(Image credit: Matt Crossick/Empics/Alamy )

1. Hamlet with Ian McKellen

Theatre: 2-7 August and other dates

Ian McKellen is playing Hamlet for a third time, in what is being billed as a “new performance concept”. The actor, 83, will deliver a number of the Dane’s speeches, accompanied by dancers from the Edinburgh Festival Ballet.

Ashton Hall, Saint Stephens; edfringe.com

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2. Sophie Duker: Hag

Comedy: 3-16 and 18-28 August

Sophie Duker is back with her new show, Hag. Sit tight for this sophomore show, “cause the sexy baby from Taskmaster is all grown up”, said the British Comedy Guide.

Pleasance Courtyard; edfringe.com

3. Victoria Melody: Head Set

Theatre: 3-8 August and other dates

A look at ADHD via wearable tech. Documentary theatre-maker Victoria Melody scans her brain as she delivers jokes to investigate her late-age diagnosis of ADHD and autism.

Pleasance Courtyard; edfringe.com

4. You’re Safe Til 2024: Deep History

Theatre: 3-8 August and other dates

A look at the 75,000-year history of humanity’s impact on the environment from the lens of the 2019 Australian bushfires, the worst fires in the country’s recorded history. Son of a climate scientist, Australian theatre maker David Finnigan spoke with 30 climate scientists to write this show.

Pleasance Courtyard; edfringe.com

5. Shame on You!

Theatre: 3-14 August and other dates

Shame on You! follows a journey through Switzerland, Russia and Pakistan with an archive of shame that explores seemingly banal everyday situations and painful cross-cultural experiences of violence and discrimination.

Summerhall; edfringe.com

6. 9 Circles

Theatre: 4-14 and 16-29 August

Based on the true story of repatriated US Army Private Steven Dale Green, who was accused of war crimes. It’s a psychological thriller asking how a soldier with a clinically diagnosed personality disorder can be trained as a cold-blooded killing machine while clinging on to the threads of his humanity.

Assembly George Square Studios; edfringe.com

7. Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra free concert

Music/Opera: 6 August

Among the free events is a concert by the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra. Pieces include Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Anna Fedorova, and an aria from Verdi’s Aida with Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska.

Usher Hall; eif.co.uk

8. Sam Nicoresti: Cancel Anti Wokeflake Snow Culture

Comedy: 6-28 August

The comedy highlights include Sam Nicoresti’s show Cancel Anti Wokeflake Snow Culture, which takes on contemporary politics, and is free.

Banshee Labyrinth; edfringe.com

9. The Pulse

Circus/Theatre: 8-9 August

There will be plenty of circus acts to see, but The Pulse by Gravity & Other Myths is a sure-fire winner. The group of 60 acrobats and choral singers have dazzled audiences at home in Australia with their extraordinary feats.

Edinburgh Playhouse; eif.co.uk

10. Jacqueline Novak: Get on Your Knees

Comedy: 11-14 August

Jacqueline Novak’s Get on Your Knees is a “wickedly intelligent cod-lecture” on oral sex, said The Telegraph. Described as “remarkable comedy” by The Guardian, this is a show that “never stops being audaciously funny”.

Pleasance Courtyard; edfringe.com

11. Kvartetto

Dance/theatre: 17-18 August and other dates

A quartet of intellectually disabled performers from Finland craft a heart-warming dance show about the power of dance to showcase to society the emotional mosaic of desires and longings of people with intellectual disabilities.

Summerhall; edfringe.com

12. A Little Life

Theatre: 20-22 August

Director Ivo van Hove adapts Hanya Yanagihara’s novel A Little Life, a powerful study of trauma and friendship. Performed in Dutch with English subtitles.

Festival Theatre; eif.co.uk

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