Who doesn’t love a festival? Who doesn’t love a festival in their home town? Who doesn’t love a festival that encompasses music, comedy, literature, town walkabouts, art and local artists, and the seaside?
That’s what Fringe By The Sea provides.
Fringe By The Sea is an annual festival held in my home town of North Berwick. Now in its 13th year, it began as a week-long offering, stretching to 10 days a few years ago. I have been to various events at the festival every year since it began, and have had the pleasure of very close proximity to artists including Maggie O’Farrell, KT Tunstall, Eddi Reader, Val McDermid, Richard Herring, Mica Paris, Sara Sheridan and Badly Drawn Boy.
North Berwick, just 25 miles east of Edinburgh on the East Lothian coast, has long been a holiday destination for Scots, especially those popping over from Glasgow. The town went through an economic dip in the years before I arrived – not that I’m saying it was my family moving here that led to the town’s resurrection as the Biarritz of the North.
I think it’s called that. I don’t know by whom. I’ll just check…
Well, it’s called the Biarritz of the North all over the internet but I don’t know who coined the term first. However, my research quickly dug up this wee article, about the creation of the North Berwick Ladies’ Golf Club in 1888. It’s an article worth reading because it’s always nice to learn about indomitable women.
Fringe By The Sea has very much contributed to the growing buzz in the wee seaside town. Although already popular with tourists, a usually sedate North Berwick comes positively alive during the festival, with a vibe that reminds me of Brighton. Albeit a very small Brighton. And one with a sandy beach, rather than pebbles.
Last year, due to Covid, naturally, Fringe By The Sea was called off.
This year, though… Boy. The team behind the festival have worked flat out to bring a Covid-safe festival back to town. Rather than erect the traditional Spiegeltent, which sat resplendent in the harbour, events will be delivered in a variety of outdoor venues – in open-sided marquees and tents.
[With the weather forecast for next week looking erratic at best, visitors would be advised to wear waterproofs and hats…]
I’m so delighted to see the festival return. Though there are inevitable worries about Covid not having been totally eliminated, and the natural concerns about crowds of people gathering in the town, the Fringe By The Sea team are working hard to make sure audiences are kept safe.
I’m so confident in their efforts, I am even a member of the volunteer team this year, for the first time ever.
I’ll be donning a FBTS t-shirt and lanyard, checking tickets and making sure everyone is having fun and feels safe. After the past 17 months, it’s essential we remain cautious and responsible but allow ourselves some entertainment and enjoyment – I’d argue that looking after our mental health is just as important as protecting ourselves from Covid.
So, if you’re anywhere near North Berwick next week, do have a look at what’s on offer at Fringe By The Sea, grab some fish and chips from The Rocketeer, have fun and stay safe.