Thursday 19th - Sunday 29th October 2017, Manchester UK

Founded by Dulcet Sounds' Hazel O'Keefe in 2013, the Women In Comedy Festival was born out of O'Keefe's all women comedy night, Laughing Cows, which featured entirely female (and all those who identify as women) line ups. Set up in London in 1998, the club's creation was in direct response to an off-the-cuff, but very telling, comment by a male comedy promoter who said that he wouldn't take the chance of putting more than one woman on the bill at his club. O'Keefe decided to prove him and his doubts wrong and Laughing Cows was born.

A few years later O'Keefe moved back up to her native Manchester and it was inevitable that the gig would follow too. It's not stopped since and O'Keefe has put on nights all around the country as well as in continental Europe too. It seemed like the natural next step to stage a whole festival.

This year's WICF sees a stellar line up. Luisa Omielan follows up her smash hit What Would Beyonce Do?! with Am I Right Ladies?!, a star of pretty much ALL the panel shows Katherine Ryan brings her latest show Glitter Room, mental health comedy night Barking Tales producer Harriet Dyer appears with Idea Pips, there are solo shows from ITV's The Job Lot's Jo Enright and from character actor as seen in BBC's Ideal Jo Neary. Laughing Cows' beloved resident compere Kerry Leigh presents Gathering Momentum, acclaimed musical comedian Kate Lucas brings her debut solo show Whatever Happened To Kate Lucas?, a four day trek up Machu Picchu inspires Sameena Zehra's How Not To Steal A Llama and the renowned Steph Laing explores the eccentricities of her love life in Mad About the Boy.

This year the festival has teamed up with the Funny Women Awards and the four heats of the competition are on throughout the 10 days. Plus there are compilation shows and special comedy shorts events allowing up and coming acts to do shorter sets to allow for work in progress and those working up to an hour length show. In addition there are talks, improv, competitions and of course the fantastic launch and closing parties at the Frog and Bucket featuring the likes of Ava Vidal, Mrs Barbara Nice and Sophie Willan.

Its success has attracted notable patrons such as Bolton born actor Maxine Peake, Funny Women's Lynne Parker, and comedians Jo Enright, Issy Suttie. Jo Caulfield, Susan Calman, Kiri Pritchard McLean, Dana Alexander and Ayesha Hazarika.

As Peake noted when she took on the patronship, "I’m proud to be supporting the UK Women in Comedy Festival as a patron. A festival filled with laughter combined with feminist principles taking place in the North … what’s not to support!”

Building on the success of Laughing Cows Comedy Night, the Festival launched in 2013 as a volunteer-led festival presenting both established and up and coming talent across the spectrum of stand up comedy, comedy theatre, improv, performing arts, film, spoken word, comedy writing and visual arts.

‘Set up as a reaction to the sidelining of women comics by club owners back in the day, Manchester’s homegrown Women In Comedy Festival (set up by Hazel O’Keefe) has found its feet in a very short space of time - attracting the likes of actress Maxine Peake as a patron, joining Jo Enright and Isy Suttie.’ M.E.N

Described as a ‘brilliant, brilliant festival’, by City Life, ‘full to the brim with female comedic talent.’ The festival is directed by Dulcet Sounds founder Hazel O’Keefe with the support of the crew, our patrons, our main sponsors Laughology, Laughing Cows Comedy and our supporters, media partners and advertisers.

The festival has grown steadily over the years since the first event in 2013 and includes solo shows, open mic events, a comedy writing competition showcases, galas, a comedy symposium, networking events, training, Q&A’s, debates and workshops. The Women In Comedy Festival also offers training and mentorship opportunities with industry professionals and other leading creative organisations.

The Women in Comedy Festival is very excited to have linked up with the 2017 Funny Women Awards this year to encourage more women to take part and provide a vital platform to develop and broaden the appeal of female comedy. Heats for the Funny Women Stage Award will be running throughout the festival.

2017 show have now been announced view our calendar here. Keep an eye out for announcements by signing up to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Highlights from the past five festivals and sister projects have included Susan Calman (Dead Boss / The News Quiz), Roisin Conaty (Game Face), Jo Neary (Miranda / Ideal), Zoe Lyons (Mock The Week), Jo Enright (The Job Lot / Pheonix Nights), Janey Godley, The Birthday Girls, Ava Vidal, Jo Brand, Jenny Eclair, Luisa Omelian, Gina Yashere, Sarah Millican, Shappi Khorshandi, Angela Barnes Shazia Mirza, Tanya Lee Davies, Aisling Bea

The festival is still unfunded and is reliant on advertising, donations, submission fees and ticket sales from the launch event for running costs which are in excess of £150,000. If you would like to contribute to this project please purchase tickets for the launch night, donate to the festival or look at our advertising and sponsorship opportunities.