Now in it’s tenth year, the week long Ventnor Fringe takes place in July in Ventnor, a town in the south of the Isle of Wight. It’s a celebration of culture, and hosts some rising stars of comedy, arts, music, theatre and performance at a number of venues around the town.
The headquarters of the fringe are at the Ventnor Exchange which is somewhat a creative hub in itself. Featuring inspiration for the events and a small record store it’s also a top spot for craft beer.
Ventnor Fringe has become one of the UK’s most popular fringe festivals and is inclusive in that as well as the ticketed events there are also many free acts to see as well as a number operating on ‘donation requested’ entry.
There are over 100 shows in quite diverse venues including the harbour, a laundrette, a horse box pop up, Ventnor Park and even a bus! It has a much more laid back feel that Edinburgh Fringe and attracts a mix of locals and visitors which gives it a friendly and fun atmosphere.
What you need to know
Tickets are available for purchase;
- Online – at http://www.vfringe.co.uk
- In person at Ventnor Exchange – 11 Church Street, PO38 1SW Open 9am – Midnight
- On the door – Tickets will be available on the door for many events but do check before going as some shows may be sold out. Cash only.
- By phone – 01983 716767
Almost every conceivable place and many you wouldn’t expect have been turned into venues for the fringe. Some are permanent spots with others just being pop ups for the week.
The comedy & cabaret tent as well as the Magpie are both housed in the Parkside area. Complete with giant connect four, table tennis and table football, it’s a fun and pretty area with a bar serving cider, wine, beer and a few spirits. The park itself is full of colourful flowers and for the fringe the area is decorated with colourful flags and bunting making it a very pleasant area to relax before & after a show. There are a couple of food vendors serving cream tea and crab sandwiches. Toilets are in the form of portaloos.
Another lovely venue is the Ventnor Arts Club. It was an old Art Deco bank which has been converted into a cinema and events venue with a cool bar and luxurious arm chairs to watch the performances.
Just oppose the Ventnor Exchange is the pretty St Catherine’s Church is a delightful venue for smaller more intimate shows.
Other venues include; Pier St Playhouse, Hygeia House and the ‘Book Bus’ outside St Catherine’s Church.
What kind of acts will you able to see at the Ventnor Fringe?
One of the best things about the Ventnor Fringe is the sheer variety of performances. The best bet is to get hold of one of the Fringe Guides from either the Ventnor Exchange or one of the many cafes in town offering them and have a flick through the ‘what’s on’ section.
There’s some great comedy acts on in Ventnor Park. Taking place shortly before Edinburgh Fringe means that some of the top up and coming comedians want to test out their performances so many of the UKs top new talent often appear.
The Book Bus is famous for it’s spoken word, whilst Harbourside holds many musical performances of a variety of genres including DJs and live bands.
There’s also plenty of plays and immersive theatre as well as street performances for free!
Where to Stay
Budget – East Dene Stop & Stay is a no frills accommodation offering self catering from only £26 per person per night. It’s located in Bonchurch Ventnor and is suitable for groups as well as singles.
Luxury – The Royal Hotel is less than a 5 minute walk to Ventnor Park where many of the shows take place and only a few minutes more into the centre of Ventnor. It’s a charming hotel with an outdoor pool, splendid afternoon tea and classically decorated rooms.
Camping – Whilst there aren’t any campsites central to Ventnor there are a number a short ride away which make for very pleasant and affordable stays. Click here for a selection.
For more information visit;