Karen Koren: Balloon’s Festival line-up takes shape

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THIS week I am writing my column between airports, on my way back to Edinburgh from Norway.

I’ve just been over to open the family summer cottage, which was hard work. But it was great to get away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh.

Whilst there, it was Norwegian National Day, a huge holiday when all the children and grown-ups wear national dress and march through town in a procession. A big event for families and children, it’s very colourful and jolly.

Meanwhile, back to reality, the Gilded Balloon Festival programme has now been launched with tickets selling on the website.

It’s very exciting to see tickets already being sold as there is still two and a half months to go before the Festival starts. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society will launch the full programme at the end of this month and the Big Four (Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly) will be having a launch mid-June.

The Gilded Balloon has more than 110 shows every day over the four weeks of August, and a great programme this year.

Here’s a sneak preview of who you can see: Jenny Eclair, Alastair McGowan, Greg Proops, Sean Hughes, Patrick Monahan, Howard Reed, Caroline Rhea, Gamarjobat, Tig Notaro and that is just a tiny part of the comedy line-up.

Coming all the way from Wellington, New Zealand is 12-strong Wellington Ukulele Orchestra, who are great fun and will surely be one of the hits of the summer.

There are also some very talented physical dance performers from Australia called Myths and Monsters. They walk on each other’s heads with an agility I’ve never seen before. There is so much to look forward to that it is hard to recommend any show too highly.

Audiences tend to find their own favourites and some can be extremely unexpected. The Rubber Bandits, for example; who would have thought that two guys with super-market polythene bags over their heads singing Irish rap would be funny? Odd, yes, but funny?