What’s on at this year’s Shaftesbury Fringe Festival

PUBLISHED: 13:07 24 June 2019

Soaking up the fun of the Fringe

Soaking up the fun of the Fringe


Now in its fourth year, Shaftesbury Fringe is attracting performers keen to try out their new material on an appreciative audience before taking it to Edinburgh

Co-Chairman of Shaftesbury Fringe, James Thrift is a happy man. The annual celebration of comedy, performance, music and spoken word, this year running from 5 - 7 July, is now the third largest fringe festival in England. "We already have 179 performances across 31 venues," declares James. "Last year we had 155 performances, so we are delighted that this event is growing."

James believes this is partly down to the Shaftesbury Fringe's reputation for being a good place to try out new material on an appreciative crowd. "Those who have taken part before had an enjoyable experience so want to return. Also the word is getting around that we are a very friendly fringe. A lot of this year's performers are coming from afar to test out new material, maybe before they go to Edinburgh. We are also seeing a lot more local people wanting to perform."

Fringe-goers will have plenty of choice in 2019. Comedy lovers can pick from 78 different comedians and comedy shows, many are at the Shaston Club and The Mitre Inn. There are some big comedy names too, including Q.I. panellist and former Shaftesbury schoolgirl Cally Beaton. Described as 'properly funny' by Sandi Toksvig, Cally performs at St Peter's Hall on Sunday 7 July.

For poetry and prose lovers there are16 spoken word or poetry performances, and six theatrical events. Acoustic music fans will no doubt relish the 29 guitar-based gigs. There are also opera and classical performances alongside blues, jazz, choral, musical and cabaret shows.

Shaftesbury Fringe FestivalShaftesbury Fringe Festival

New for this year is the Sustainable Fashion Show. Lucy Fosh, who is coordinating the event with Georgie Faulkner-Bryant, says it is going to be a real talking point. "This is going to be the most amazing and beautiful one-off event for Shaftesbury. We really hope people will be inspired by it."

"People are waking up to the fact that the fashion industry is quite bad for the environment," adds Georgie. "We're trying to promote a more sustainable way of choosing clothes and reviving people's wardrobes."

The Town Hall hosts the show on 6 July at 8pm, which features four genres of sustainable fashion: vintage, secondhand from charity shops, re-fashioned clothing, and make-do-and mended clothing. "We all hope to find a one-off treasure in a vintage store or charity shop," says Georgie, "but it's all about finding that piece that can be made to fit you like a glove."

The search is also on to crown the 'King and Queen', 'King and King' or 'Queen and Queen' of Shaftesbury Fringe. The winning couple will enjoy a luxury two-night break in Shaftesbury and a 'golden key' allowing them access to the Fringe shows of their choice. You can enter the contest at shaftesburyfringe.co.uk where you will also find listings for all performances happening over the three-day festival, as well as podcast interviews with many of the acts which offer an insight into their shows.

An outdoor performance at The GrosvenorAn outdoor performance at The Grosvenor

If you're new to the event then the free Shaftesbury Fringe app will help you to select shows and locate venues. Download it from Apple App and Google Play stores.

Shaftesbury Fringe Festival 5 - 7 July, find full listings at shaftesburyfringe.co.uk.

Shaftesbury Fringe Picks

Friday 5 July

Belle Street: Close harmony vocal trio perform at Sloanes Salon at 6.30pm

Sam Fraser: The stand-up comedian and weather presenter (South Today) asks 'Can you be a 50-year-old babe and a feminist?' 8.30pm, Grosvenor Arms.


Saturday 6 July

Magdalena Atkinson: The singer/ songwriter empowers and inspires at The Potting Shed at 2pm.

Julian Richards: Talks about his 50 years as an archeologist. 2.30pm, Abbey ruins.

Tesco: The Opera! Steve Clarke, gets musical on his supermarket trip, in this sell-out show at the Edinburgh Fringe. 3.30pm, Shaftesbury Arts Centre.

Speedy Thesps: The Amateur Players of Sherborne present 37 plays in 97 minutes, and the world's fastest performance of Hamlet. 4pm, Shaftesbury Football Club.

Giovanni L'Immigrato: Uplifting indie-folk tuned at Angola '76 at 4.45pm.

Thomas Cameron: Classic Brit nominated tenor performs classical and contemporary songs. 7.30pm, Shaftesbury Arts Centre.


Sunday 7 July

The Ukeshack Ensemble: Ukulele players from Shaftesbury, Salisbury and Wimborne gather at 11am at Gold Hill Museum.

Comedy at The Mitre: Susan Murray offers advice on how not to die in a plane crash (7pm) and James Alderson roller-blades his way through the 1980s (8pm).

Full listing for these and all event at shaftesburyfringe.co.uk

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