THE Great Yorkshire Fringe is to mark its fifth birthday in York next month by adding three new venues.

The annual festival will host events for the first time at The Basement at City Screen, the John Cooper Studio at 41 Monkgate and the riverside Arts Barge at the Tower Gardens Mooring, River Ouse, Skeldergate Bridge.

These will complement the regular pop-up sites of The White Rose Rotunda spiegeltent and The Tea Pot tent in Parliament Street, plus two established host venues, the Grand Opera House and York Barbican.

The Turn Pot, the third Parliament Street performing space at past festivals, is dropping out.

Organised by York resident and London comedy impresario Martin Witts, the festival of comedy, theatre, family entertainment, cabaret and music will run from July 18 to 28, featuring a record-breaking 167 events. The programme is now complete and can be viewed at

GYF regular Henning Wehn sold out his July 27 gig at York Barbican in record time, prompting the German Comedy Ambassador to add a second Get On With It performance on July 26.

"This show is a much-needed call to arms," says Wehn. "Listen, everyone: stop pondering and hand-wringing. Instead get on your bike and put your face to the grindstone."

Quick advice, dear punters: take Henning's advice and do get on with it if you want a ticket as show number two is selling fast too.

Among the familiar festival highlights will be the returning Sh*t-faced Shakespeare in Macbeth from July 25 to 28 in The White Rose Rotunda, where this Fringe favourite will combine an entirely serious adaptation of a Shakespearean classic with the disruptive presence of an increasingly drunk cast member.

Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel will create an improvised Regency comedy play at the Grand Opera House on July 20, conjuring up a "lost" Jane Austen novel from nothing more than a title suggested by the audience. Past hits include Bath To The Future, We Will Frock You and Northanger Abba, and every show is completely different.

Gyles Brandreth, actor, author, ex-MP, radio and TV quiz regular and The One Show reporter, will celebrate all things theatrical in The White Rose Rotunda on July 21in an afternoon of wit, wisdom, high drama, low comedy, and name-dropping from great heights.

Returning from last summer, comedy maverick Tony Slattery will reveal all in candid conversation with comedy historian Robert Ross in Slattery Will Get You Nowhere at 41 Monkgate on July 24. Anything can happen in this no-holds-barred, totally unstructured reflection on his crazy-paving career when no two shows are ever the same.

Newly diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at the age of 49, The Chase quiz show star Paul Sinha will present Hazy Little Thing Called Love in The White Rose Rotunda on July 19.

Sinha, who played the villainous Abanazar in the Grand Opera House pantomime Aladdin in 2016-2017, will combine "best bits with new material about the life-changing effect a couple of drinks can have".

Comedian Richard Herring, raised in Pocklington and still a York City supporter, will bring his Leicester Square Theatre Podcast to The White Rose Rotunda Fringe on July 26, when he will chat with Detectorists and The Borrowers actress Rebecca Callard.

The Great Yorkshire Fringe New Comedian of the Year will be back for a fifth year as rising comedy turns from Yorkshire and beyond compete for this year’s title in heats from July 18 to 24, semi-finals on July 25 and 26 and the Grand Opera House final on July 27.

The competition is open to any non-professional act who has been performing for five years or fewer; entries from character acts, musical acts, and sketch groups are welcome. All contestants must stick to five minutes of original material or risk disqualification.

Charles Hutchinson