It took York a little while to believe that something this good can happen here,’ says Jane Veysey, producer of this year’s Great Yorkshire Fringe. ‘I know it sounds silly, but in our first year we opened the box office on site and our ticket sales pretty much doubled in the first week of us being there. Because people want to see it to believe it.’
It’s only two months now until the Great Yorkshire Fringe begins and already the line-up is creating a buzz; comedy headliners Omid Djalili, Ed Gamble and Reginald D. Hunter will be joined by the likes of musical extraordinaries Ronnie Scott’s Allstars (direct from London’s world-famous jazz club), multi-award winning vocalist Claire Martin OBE, the legendary Michael Palin CBE – who will be in conversation with comedy historian Robert Ross – and dramatic fringe phenomenons S**t-faced Shakespeare, and there’s still plenty more to be announced. Clearly, the festival has no trouble attracting big names.
‘I think now we’ve proved ourselves worthy of York’s incredibly high standards when it comes to the arts,’ says Jane. ‘We have amazing things happen here, and we really feel like we’ve been accepted and that people are looking forward to what’s to come.’
Building on the success of their first three festivals, The Great Yorkshire Fringe 2018 is undoubtedly the biggest yet. With around 40,000 tickets on sale across the 11 days of the festival, where visitors can see over 100 different acts in over 200 performances (with over 500 amateur and professional performers involved) the Fringe is set to take over the city of York in a way that’s only comparable to the Fringe festivals of Edinburgh and London.
But in many ways, it’s what makes Yorkshire’s Fringe so different from the UK’s other big- hitting festivals that makes it so popular. ‘What sets us apart is the inclusion of all the local stuff,’ says Jane’s fellow producer, Adam Robinson-Witts. ‘This year our programme is a lot heavier with established local acts like Moulin Ouse and the Grand Old Uke of York. It’s all curated, so we strive to have the best programme possible.’
In its essence, the Fringe lives and breathes Yorkshire. Engaging residents and visitors, supporting local businesses and encouraging tourism for the wider area, the majority of its management team (from York originally) fully commit to showing the county off on the kind of nationwide stage that only a festival of this size can bring – attracting big- name performers to local audiences while blazing a trail for the future development of Yorkshire-based arts and culture.
‘Myself and Adam were born and bred in York,’ says Jane. ‘As was our Production Manager, Phil, and we’ve all gone off and done other things in the bright lights. But now we’re doing a backwards Dick Whittington; we’ve seen that the streets are paved with gold in London, and now it’s about bringing that talent and that excitement back home.’
Great Yorkshire Food
It’s not just quality entertainment that awaits at this year’s Great Yorkshire Fringe – the county’s finest street food and drink will also be on offer. Producer Adam gives us food for thought
Tried and Tested
‘We’ve still got a lot of the golden oldies who’ve been with us a few years. People like Shambles Kitchen – they have a fantastic sandwich shop on the oldest street in York – they’ve done our event for the past four years now. They’re a firm favourite.’ Perfect for: handmade pulled pork sandwiches, Cajun halloumi wraps and meaty daily specials
York Roast Company
‘This year we’ve got the famous Yorkypud wrap from the York Roast Company. They contacted me saying they’d love to be involved, then I looked at their social media – crikey! They’ve got something like 10,000 Instagram followers already!’
Perfect for: hand-held roast dinners – your choice of roasted meat, veg and slaw, stuffing or gravy, all wrapped up in a Yorkshire pud
‘We’ve got a fantastic bar offering. We’ve gone with a chap called John Sunman this year, who had a converted horse-box gin bar last year (the Angel’s Share Mobile Bar), which will still be there. But this year he’s also managing all of the other bars for us. So we’ve got lots of Yorkshire brands – York Gin Distillery, Leeds Brewery, York Brewery – lots of local businesses getting involved.’ Perfect for: Yorkshire-brewed tipples on-the-go
With over 14 different venues across the city already announced – and over 100 different acts on offer – you’re going to want to plan your festival route in advance. Here’s what not to miss
Who: Monstersaurus What: A monster-ously energetic show full of thrills, spills, magic and mayhem that promises to delight the whole family – from the creators of Aliens Love Underpants
Where: The White Rose Rotunda
When: 24th–29th July
Who: Reginald D. Hunter What: Hilarious, topical and searingly-honest stand up that challenges the quirks and stereotypes of British and American culture
Where: Grand Opera House
When: 28th July
Who: Moulin Ouse What: Sparkling showgirls, sizzling variety acts and sleekly-sophisticated burlesque and cabaret performers from across the UK (and beyond) in a locally-curated candlelit speakeasy
Where: The Turn Pot
When: 28th July
Who: Ronnie Scott’s Allstars featuring Claire Martin OBE What: Vocals from a multi-award winning BBC Radio presenter and music from one of the most acclaimed jazz bands in the world – all in celebration of the First Lady Of Song, Ella Fitzgerald
Where: The White Rose Rotunda
When: 29th July
The Great Yorkshire Fringe Festival will run between 19th–29th July in venues across York.
For ticket enquires, contact the Box Office: 01904 500600,