Leicester Comedy Festival  today launches its 2018 festival line-up with a bumper 164 page brochure, featuring 836 events across 69 venues, performed by 613 comedians and performers; an increase of 8.5% on last year. The festival is the longest running comedy festival in the UK, having taken place every February since 1994, and now regularly attracts over 120,000 people to venues across Leicester and Leicestershire throughout the 19 days.

Highlights for 2018 include Barry Cryer, Harry Hill, Sara Pascoe, Jonathan Pie, Katherine Ryan, Paul Chowdhry, Dave Spikey, Dr John Cooper Clarke, Griff Rhys Jones, Mark Steel and Richard Herring.

Continuing its theme of being the Official Comedy Party, Leicester Comedy Festival plans to build on the success of the last 25 years and continue in its mission to get the UK laughing again. With a huge variety of unique events, performances and discussions, anyone can join the party in 2018 – just get to Leicester in February and be immersed in the festival spirit.

Leicester Comedy Festival is run by Big Difference Company (registered charity 1135167). All surpluses made by the charity are invested back into the event and used to support new comedy talent; the festival has a long tradition of providing a platform for new and emerging comedians. Projects such as Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition, UK Pun Championships and Silver Stand Up Competition have helped launch the careers of numerous comedians across the last 25 years (including Johnny Vegas, Romesh Ranganathan, Rhod Gilbert, Jason Manford & Josh Widdicombe). For 2018 the festival launches Circuit Breakers; a development programme to help support comedians wanting to perform at the festival and break into the UK comedy scene, meet agents, producers and members of the UK comedy industry.  The festival also provides a platform for other charities to raise money and profile; in 2018 these will include Comic Relief, LOROS Hospice, Charity Link, Prostaid and The Real Junk Food Project.

Geoff Rowe, founder and Director of the festival says “For 25 years we have supported new and emerging comedy talent, with many of the comedians who began their careers with us now world famous entertainers. In 2018, we will be celebrating our achievements in style, with a huge selection of acts, from those just starting out to household names, plus more unmissable events unique to the festival than ever before, including Heavenly Laughter in Leicester Cathedral and a bumper birthday party show, as well as festival favourites Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year, the UK Pun Championships and #UKPunDay.”

The festival line up is launched today and includes shows from John Kearns, Adam Hess, Ahir Shah, Bec Hill, Ben Target, Bob Slayer, Andrew O’Neill, Bobby Mair, Chris Washington, Colin Hoult, Daliso Chaponda, Gary Delaney, Harriet Kemsley, John Ribbons, Jordan Brookes, Lost Voice Guy, Lucy Porter, Paul Sinha, Robin Ince, Shappi Khorsandi, Stuart Goldsmith, Suzi Ruffell, Tom Allen, Tom Hougton, Tom Lucy and Zoe Lyons.


The Festival will be celebrating it’s 25th anniversary with some key special events:

An Interview with Harry Hill: In 1994, a guy called Harry Hill performed as part of the very first Leicester Comedy Festival. Since then Harry has come a long way and he is now one of the UK’s most loved comedians. Multi award-winner Hill has presented numerous TV and radio shows and in Autumn 2017 he published his latest book ‘Matt Millz’ about the youngest stand-up comedian in the world.  The in-depth interview will be conducted by Festival Director, Geoff Rowe.

An Interview with Dave Johns: Dave has long been one of the most respected comedians working in the UK, however, he almost gave up comedy to manage donkey rides at Whitley Bay. In this interview with Festival Director Geoff Rowe, Johns will talk about getting the call from film director Ken Loach and starring in the Palme d’Or and BAFTA-winning film, I, Daniel Blake in 2016.

25 Acts for £25: a show to celebrate 25 years of Leicester Comedy Festival. A whopping 25 comedians all under one roof, in one night. The evening will be hosted by “top class” stand-up Lloyd Langford and star of Peter Kay’s “Phoenix Nights”, Mrs Barbara Nice. More acts and special guests will be announced shortly.

Leicester Comedy Festival’s 25th Birthday Party: In place of the normal comedy finale event, Comedy Heaven, a very special show, celebrating a very special birthday. Leicester Comedy Festival will celebrate 2018 with an incredible line up of festival acts and even a special guest or two. In aid of registered charities Prostaid (1116935) and Big Difference Company (1135167).

A Funny City: an exhibition highlighting the history of comedy in Leicester and the development of Leicester Comedy Festival since 1994.

Heavenly Laughter: a thanksgiving service at Leicester Cathedral celebrating 25 years of Leicester Comedy Festival, with special guest Nicholas Parsons.

Laugh Term Comedy School: a new project for 2018, based at Moat Community College and supported by De Montfort University. The “school” will run throughout the February half term (12-16th February), teaching young people aged 13-18 the basics of comedy performance and culminating with a performance on the Friday evening

Comic Relief Live: Join one of the UK’s top comedians as they host a special Comic Relief Live show at Leicester Comedy Festival, bringing a line-up of some of the most exciting up-and-coming comedy talent. The money raised will support Comic Relief to help people around the world, as well as here in the UK.

Leicester Comedy Festival runs from the 7th – 25th February 2018.


Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Great Central, John has been actively involved in Leicester's creative community for over a decade - promoting shows and releasing records under the name Robot Needs Home. He is a director of Handmade Festival, and ex member of the band Maybeshewill.

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