Locals Asked To ‘Phone A Friend’!

Do you have a friend or relative who can sing, perform stand-up or poetry? Performers’ registration has now opened for Shaftesbury Fringe 2018, which is being held from Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July.

“We want to put on the biggest range of acts in Shaftesbury Fringe’s three-year history,” said Co-Chairman Sue Allatt. “And we are particularly keen to encourage local performers as well as those from other parts of the UK. So everyone in North Dorset can play their part by ‘phoning a friend’ and encouraging them to register.”

With no minimum or maximum age limit, any form of performance is welcome at Fringe – from dance to opera, magic to drama and singer-songwriters to impressionists.

The committee is hoping that locals who are inviting friends to the Fringe will also help by offering them a bed during the festival. “We know that accommodation will be booking up rapidly in the New Year. We want to save as many hotel and guesthouse rooms for the Fringe visitors or artists who don’t have local connections,” says Sue.

Fringe organisers have made the process even more straightforward for 2018. Performers and artists can pay the small registration fee and secure their place on the Fringe programme in one easy transaction. “The website is linked up to PayPal and that allows online booking for anyone with a bank or credit card. You don’t have to be a PayPal account holder,” said Co-Chair Natalie Evans.

The Shaftesbury Fringe website lists all the venues taking part in the 2018 event, so performers can find a space that will work best for their type of show. Venues range from intimate rooms, like estate agent Gilyard Scarth’s High Street offices, to larger performance spaces such as the Shaston Club. There’s a step-by-step guide to the process here.

Shaftesbury’s Fringe Benefits Business

Shaftesbury’s Fringe Festival is good for the local economy. That’s according to business owners who hosted performances during this summer’s three-day programme of music, theatre and comedy.

Hundreds of people attended the second annual Shaftesbury Fringe, between 30th June and 2nd July.

John Morgan says the Fringe made a positive difference at his café bar, Angola 76. We were, “exceptionally rammed,” he said, adding that he’ll be increasing his bar capacity for Fringe 2018. “I want Fringe every weekend!” joked John.

He believes that Shaftesbury Fringe is giving Frome and Bruton, “a run for their money.” Before Fringe, he felt that the Somerset towns’ arts events had, “stolen a march on Shaftesbury.” John said that he is, “very proud of Shaftesbury for doing such a good job,” with Fringe.

The Ye Old Two Brewers’ large beer garden provided the perfect band performance venue and landlady Sally Francis said Fringe was “great” for her business. “We were extremely busy.”

Sally believes this year’s event attracted many visitors from outside the area. “I think the Fringe brought a lot more people into town. Many people turned up with programmes,” Sally said. “Anything that brings tourists in to see our lovely part of the world is good,” Sally added.

Vicki Hudson manages The Mitre Inn. Vicki noticed that many customers attending the Fringe performances in the pub’s Valley View back room weren’t locals. “I do think it was our busiest weekend of the year,” Vicki said.

Swans Yard manager Dave Martin has credited Fringe for, “the biggest and best weekend I have seen in the yard in 15 years.” Dave says he has no doubt that the festival is good for Shaftesbury. “Saturdays are usually our quieter day but during Fringe you could feel the buzz in town. The cafe here was full from 9.30am until 5.30pm. We had great bands and superb footfall. I can’t praise it enough,” Dave said.

An estate agent’s office might not be an obvious live music venue, but Richard Keenlyside, director of Gilyard Scarth, says he was pleased to offer a performance space and was “delighted” by the feedback he’s received following Anne-Louise Richards’ gig.

Richard says he’s been told that his impressive Victorian building offers excellent acoustics. “People were standing outside, too,” Richard said. Next year, he says he’ll arrange additional seating.

Richard’s firm also sponsors the Fringe signage. “We support the Fringe, which supports the town, which then supports business. It’s all interconnected,” Richard said.

Natalie Evans, Co-Chair of Shaftesbury Fringe 2018 Committee says she really appreciates the feedback from the business community. “Our team are all volunteers who are passionate about our incredible town. We want to showcase Shaftesbury and also support local businesses. It is the best way to ensure our town remains a vibrant community and a wonderful place to live and work.”

Natalie said she’d love to talk with any businesses that would like to be part of next year’s Shaftesbury Fringe, taking place from 29th June to 1st July 2018. You can contact her on natalie@shaftesburyfringe.co.uk.

Wild Camping At The Shaftesbury Fringe!

If you haven’t already booked your accommodation, here’s an idea for you… why not enjoy a proper festival experience by booking your pitch at our official Shaftesbury Fringe Wild Campsite! Holyrood farm is located a short walk from the town centre with The Two Brewers pub (one of our many fringe venues) on route. And with a communal fire pit to enjoy there will be opportunities for entertainment round the fire in the evenings too.

Local farmer Jason Perry will be your host and will make sure you are well looked after with sausages and bacon available to buy for breakfast along with fire pit hire and wood. With spectacular vale views from Holyrood’s working farm you will see sheep and cattle, alpacas and possibly the odd badger if you’re lucky. You’ll even be able to spot Glastonbury Tor on a sunny day. Wild camping doesn’t get any better than this so pack up your tent and come on down!

£15 per pitch per night. Book your pitch here!

Sssh! It’s The BIG Shaftesbury Silence!

You’ve probably heard of ‘The Big Quiet’ which takes place in New Yorks Central Park, well now we have ‘The Big Shaftesbury Silence…’
Carol Guppy, Mindfulness & MSC Teacher said, “I was delighted to have been asked to facilitate the first-ever ‘Big Shaftesbury Silence’ in the beautiful contemplative setting of Shaftesbury Abbey.”

If you fancy some time out during all the fun of the fringe, please come along and join in with a community open-air meditation within the ancient stones of the Abbey Grounds.
Free, donations for Shaftesbury Abbey. And don’t forget to bring cushions or blankets to sit on. There will be some chairs available.

Carol Guppy works from ‘The Space’ The Commons, Shaftesbury and you can find out more about Carols work here. See you there!

Street Performers & Buskers – Free registration!

If you’re a busker or street performer and fancy a trip to Shaftesbury fringe festival this July then we want to hear from YOU!

This is a great opportunity if you’re looking to build an audience and grab some free publicity as we can offer:

– Great pitches set aside specifically for busking

– An established event with a large attendance

– A friendly town with a great atomosphere

– Plugs on social media to help build your audience

There’s no need to register on our website or pay a registration fee, simply email Natalie if you would like to book one of our allocated pitches around town.

Alternatively, you can just turn up over the weekend and take a chance but if you do let us know in advance you can take FULL advantage of the benefits listed above.

So, what are you waiting for? Email natalie@shaftesburyfringe.co.uk now for more information.

Black Pig Safari Tent Retreats – Glamping at the Fringe!

If you’re planning to stay in Shaftesbury for the fringe festival and fancy something a little bit different, look no further.

Black Pig Retreats is the vision of Clive and Carolyn Bourchier who bought the farm and it’s surrounding 37 acres back in 2010. Clive and Carolyn’s aspirations have steered this unique project and taken glamping to a whole new level. Three luxury themed safari tents, plus an eco-friendly straw building conference hall, now sit comfortably in the south-facing wildflower meadow, each with en suite facilities complete with a flushing toilet and hot shower.

“When I first walked down to the woods and discovered the brook I knew it was a special place and I knew it had to be shared,” said Carolyn, as we strode across the pretty meadow to explore the tents. The star attraction of this small holding is Beauty the Large Black pig (although she thinks she’s a dog) who inspired the name of the site. The beautifully styled tents, Murciano, Mukota and Gascon, are named after breeds of black pigs that reside in the countries the tents are named after.

Wheelbarrows are provided to transport your luggage over the little bridge to your safari tent so cars are kept hidden from view in the tree lined car park below.

Mukota is a spacious safari tent sleeping four with an earthy African theme. The south-facing deck looks out across the large meadow to a woodland trail that takes you around the farm and into the village. This tent sleeps four very comfortably in a king-size double bed and twin beds. The cosy wood-fired range keeps the tent toasty warm out-of-season and the kitchen is well-equipped with a two-ring gas hob, sink with plenty of hot water and a fridge.

Mukota’s en suite facilities are in a sturdy horse-box at the back of the tent accessed via an enclosed walkway. This fully insulated horse-box contains a double shower, wash-basin, flushing WC and heated towel rail. Two further safari tents, Murciano and Gascon, can be found in the meadow above and each sleeps 6.

“The eco-barn, which is in the same meadow as Mukota, would provide an ideal rehearsal space for Fringe performers staying on the site”.

Carolyn’s attention to every detail is exceptional but at the heart of it all is her incredible repose. Carolyn works with troubled horses and believes they deserve to be treated and supported in the same way as the humans that care for them.
“To create a natural bond, we must approach the horse as equals. Neither horse nor human should be submissive, and neither should be dominant. A horse needs us to be honest and trustworthy so he feels safe. We earn his trust by being consistent, open and respectful.”

Horse or human, Bittles Farm is somewhere you can kick off your shoes and truly be yourself. Heaven!

Bittles Farm in Motcombe: 1.4 miles from Shaftesbury.

For more information and to check availability over the fringe festival weekend you can contact Classic cottages here.

To read more about Carolyn’s work with horses: www.thenewhorse.com 

60 Seconds with…Frank Pickering!

As well as writing novels and short stories Frank is also a musician and prize-winning poet. Here’s 60 seconds with Frank…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

I have always loved words and stories. My poem, below, explains some of their appeal to me.


Everything reeks.
Plasticine and ink, boiled dinners, Dettol and sick.
The Beacon Readers too (waxy, oily)
Scattering stuttering light
On the labyrinth of language.
“Baby likes Rover.”
I read “licks”. My parents laugh.
I see that words are weasily. Books can bite.

“Crocodile Tears” (lost on me),
A book to reassure the nervous child
Before a visit to the dentist
Leaves me afraid of both dentists
And crocodiles.
For weeks I will not put my feet
Down the end of the bed
Where all those teeth await.

Ignorant, impressionable and ill-equipped,
I blunder into unknown words and worlds.
Those adventurous children
Who have cream on their porridge
(We never have cream on anything)
And go home for the hols.
(Home from where?)
What is a pirrot? (Spelled ‘pirate’, heard ‘pirrot’)
And why does Christmas Future
Wear an extinguisher as a hat?
(Hefty red cylinder, hose attached –
I know no other.)

In truth I do not expect or desire answers.
The alien, exotic and (frankly) bonkers
World in books is what I crave,
Not gritty realism.
Cold bedrooms, bullying, poverty, boredom,
I can live that.
But under the covers,
Lit by a failing bicycle lamp
I watch Bill the lizard
Crash into cucumber frames
(What are those?),
Smell tropical spices in “Dream Gold”
(Why are the boys sleeping at school?)
And wonder why William’s family
Wear such weird clothes.

Our roadside ‘School’ sign
Is emblazoned with a torch.
I have no idea why.

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

Informative. Entertaining. Digressive.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

As a poet – hundreds. As a fiddle-player – hundreds. As a newly-published author of a modern gothic novel – none, although I expect to have performed twice before the Fringe date. My favourite musical performance was playing on the back of a steam traction engine through the streets of Tavistock.
Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

John Jarndyce from ‘Bleak House’ and Mary Poppins.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?
It’s your choice to be there. Enjoy it and so will the audience.
Q: What will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? 

It will be a one-hour presentation and signing of my newly-published novel, ‘Ice’, in the Gold Hill Museum at 2.30pm on Saturday July 1st.

And you can follow Frank here on Twitter. Thanks franks!

60 Seconds with…..Paul Lawless!


Q: How did you first discover your talent?

Well, I remember really wanting to sing at a young age which resulted in me joining a church choir. Following this, I joined a Musical Theatre society (WOW Youth Musical Theatre, Weymouth) and this introduced me to Acting, which I fell in love with. I still incorporate song and music into my theatre-making work, these days.

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

Fun. Honest. Insightful.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

I have no idea. We’re talking over 150, professional performances I reckon. 28 consecutive performances at the Pleasance Dome for the EdFringe (2015) was pretty awesome.

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

I’m going to go with celebrities on this one – Caitlin Moran and Charlie Brooker.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow


As a theatre maker – don’t shy away from being honest. As an Actor – strive to be as authentic as possible, with a performance.

Q: Will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? What’s the plan?

I will be performing Appily Ever After – a one-man, performance piece centred around my experiences app-dating which utilises projection to illustrate my experiences. The show blends original song, spoken word and explores themes including app-addiction, disillusionment and assault. I have developed this piece as part of my Practitioner in residence role at Bay Studios (Weymouth College).

You can follow Paul on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks Paul!

‘The Shaftesbury Globe’ Shakespeare in the cattle market

One of the unlikeliest hit venues of the 2016 fringe was Shaftesbury cattle market. But this only came about after one of the fringe organisers Andy Tebbutt-Russell thought the market’s circular show-ring reminded him of The Globe theatre in London and what a great Fringe venue it would make. He approached the operators Southern Counties Auctioneers who agreed to include it as a venue and the idea of The Shaftesbury Globe was born. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the festival with Dorset Equity – professional performers based in Dorset – putting on “The Bard’s Best Bits”, an hour-long show celebrating William Shakespeare through his plays and sonnets as part of the nationwide 400th anniversary events. The show featured some six actors and singers led by Fraser Wilson and included extracts from opera and musicals based on the great bard’s works, ending with the hit song ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ from the musical ‘Kiss Me Kate’.

“We expected about 20 people but in the event the place was packed with well over 100,” said Andy. “Many said they came because they were fascinated to see how we would put on an event like that in such an unusual venue and almost everyone said they would come again. So we’re delighted we’re able to offer the venue again in 2017.”

Register your show NOW!

Would you like to showcase your work to new audiences, network with other artists and lift your media profile? Is your next stop Edinburgh? Or are you simply looking to test out new ideas and have some ‘fringe’ fun?

We are excited to announce that the second Shaftesbury Fringe will take place this year from Friday 30th June to Sunday 2nd July in our beautiful medieval hilltop town, home of the famous Gold Hill.

As one of the fastest-growing performing arts festivals in the South-West we have over 50 wonderful venues on offer, from churches and cafes to pubs and public parks, with audience capacities from 1 to over 100.

-Registration Fees: It costs just £15 per performance which entitles you to a full colour entry in our Fringe Programme and supplement, with a distribution of over 60,000.

-Deadline: The deadline for performance registrations is 31st March 2017.

You can find most of the answers to your questions here on our FAQ’s page.

If you are ready to register then please fill in our online form here.

We look forward to welcoming you!