Gilded Balloon is one of Scotland’s leading and best-loved entertainment venues presenting an annual programme as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As one of the largest venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Gilded Balloon is respected internationally for presenting a stunning annual showcase of theatre, comedy and cabaret.
Our main venue hubs during the Fringe include the iconic Teviot Row House on Bristo Square hosting nine theatres, with the largest of our spaces the Debating Hall. Gilded Balloon have also found a home in the Auditorium in the National Museum of Scotland since 2015. We’ve loved hosting all types of shows in the fabulous 210 seater auditorium space as well as a unique comedy show we developed just for the space, Comedy Night at the Museum. In 2019, we took on Patter Hoose on Chambers Street with five theatres and our main bar space where many performers, staff and punters enjoyed a drink and a dance in the very wee hours each night!
Gilded Balloon is also notably renowned for producing its own in-house late night comedy line-up show, Late‘n’Live. Funny, outrageous and more than a bit sweary, Late‘n’Live is the last stand of proper, raw, live comedy – where anything can, and does happen because the audience are still very much in control. Many a household name has cut their teeth on the Late’n’Live stage, from Dylan Moran to Aisling Bea, Tommy Tiernan to Dane Baptiste, Bill Bailey to Tim Minchin and the infamous Russell Brand; the list of comedy pedigree is endless.
The Gilded Balloon is also well known for the ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ comedy competition which strives to discover new comic talent every year. It has now developed into the most influential competition of its kind in the UK, having just celebrated it’s 30th year. The pedigree of the competition is reflected in the list of past winners: Hannah Gadsby, Phil Kay, Aisling Bea, Lee Mack, Maisie Adam, Tommy Tiernan, Sarah Millican and Peter Kay.
More recently we took up residence at our year-round venue, the Gilded Balloon Basement. We have loved putting on weekly comedy shows at the Basement as well as a weekly line-up of spoken word, theatre, music and cabaret in this intimate 120 seater space. Although the venue has only been open for three years, it has built up a reputation for a unique programme of performers and shows that has been a vital addition to the year-round Edinburgh arts scene. Sadly, in 2020 we had to make the difficult decision to close the venue and concntrate on our recovery. We hope to be able to return to having a year-round home again in Edinburgh soon.
Karen Koren, Artistic Director, is the founder and creative force behind the Gilded Balloon. Over the years, Karen has earned a deep respect throughout the comedy and entertainment industry both in the UK and abroad. The award winning track record at the Gilded Balloon is ample testament to her success in innovative programming and in her instinct for unleashing previously undeveloped potential.
In 2014, Katy Koren, Karen’s daughter, joined the company and since then they have become a partnership running the family business together. Katy shares Karen’s passion and determination to provide a supportive platform for new and emerging Scottish as well as international artists. Together they started a podcast to record their shared journey of running one of the largest comedy empires in Scotland. Boss Wummin’ is an insight into what it’s like to be women in the comedy industry as well as run a family business together.
The Gilded Balloon continues to push the boundaries of programming the best local and worldwide entertainment at the Edinburgh Fringe and throughout the year in Scotland.