Lancashire Fringe Festival returns to Preston and it’s bigger and better than ever

Preston will host some of the UK’s best theatre and comedy shows this April and May – with all shows free for audiences to attend.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 7:59 am

Lancashire Fringe Festival is returning after a two-year Covid break and the city will see more than 25 performances take place across four weeks.

The shows, which vary from stand-up comedy to dance, spoken word and theatre, will be performed in a number of independent venues, including The Larder, Vinyl Tap, One Was Lost, The Stanley Arms and The Continental.

Preston is already the unlikely centre for hard-hitting contemporary performance, having developed cult status among the performance community.

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Producer Garry Cook who also organises the Lancashire Photography Festival

Lancashire Fringe Festival, now in its third year, has played a major part in developing a huge reputation.

On the city’s cult reputation for contemporary performance, producer Garry Cook added: “People don’t know this but audiences for the show I put on in Preston have an unusually high number of over 50s who come to see the contemporary performance shows I put on.

“The performers love this as it is a totally new experience for them. Most of the shows I put on go to Edinburgh Fringe festival where they sell-out for their three-week run. And the audiences there are predominantly people in their 20s and 30s. So when these guys come to Preston they get hugely different reactions – which they love.

“That’s not to say I don’t want more young people to come to these shows. I definitely do! Preston is in a strange position culturally where bigger shows come to Chorley, Blackpool and Blackburn, and this means the people of Preston are missing out on the brilliant experience of live performance, whether that is comedy, theatre, dance or spoken word.

“This festival will go some way to addressing that issue, particularly as it brings shows to the city which would never otherwise come to the North West, never mind Lancashire. The memorable experience people get from seeing shows like these lasts a lifetime – and I would urge anyone reading this to take the plunge, come along, and experience something amazing.”

Lancashire Fringe Festival also aims to introduce new audiences to live performance and theatre, which is why all but one show is free to attend. Pay What You Decide donations are welcome at the end of each performance.

Garry added: “After two years away due to lockdown, I’m absolutely thrilled to be bringing Lancashire Fringe Festival back to Preston.

“Organising this festival is a huge job. I get quite stressed at times but the support of people like Rob Talbot at The Continental, where so many of the shows will take place, is so appreciated. I’d go so far as to say that without their support and theatre space, there would be no festival. Some of the shows coming to the city are technically very complex, some of them are just very, very funny. Others are very clever or very moving.

“At a time when Preston does not have a theatre space for touring shows, this festival is fulfilling a crucial role in bringing these incredibly thought-provoking, funny and entertaining shows to the city.”