My first fringe festival and it certainly won’t be my last.
We arrived in Ventnor just before the start of fringe week, watching the preparations unfold and the excitement build.
After a quick visit to the Ventnor Exchange, I left armed with my festival programme and tips on family friendly events. Daughter enjoyed a quick play with the lego whilst I chatted about all things fringe like.
What is Ventnor Fringe Festival?
I have given great thought about how to describe Ventnor Fringe Week to the unknown. So far I have come up with; Random, Spontaneous and Slightly Wacky.
There’s a programme of events, but these are subject to change. Unplanned events and artists pop up all over the place when you least expect it. There are buskers at bus stops, shows in churches, singing in shelters and books on buses.
The Best Bits
Falling in love with the book bus parked outside St Catherine’s Church and becoming regular visitors. As frequenters of the bus, we were treated to quite a few ‘pop up’ poets and singers as we passed. That and an increasing number of books to take home (as if my car wasn’t full enough already!).
I learnt so much more about Ventnor as a town over Fringe week. Visiting numerous venues and generally walking about more than normal (mainly because I had a parking space and I wasn’t giving it up for anyone!).
We loved our visit to Parkside in Ventnor Park and soaked up the festival atmosphere at this end of the town. Greeted with a music tent, a bar and we had fun making puppets, key-rings, painting pebbles and hanging out in the retro caravan listening to podcasts.
The Venues and The Shows
The venues are certainly varied…. warehouses, churches turned into playhouses, tea houses and even the launderette became a stage for the night.
My daughter’s favourite was the storytelling down on the beach. A lovely lady called Sue took the children on a walk, stopping to tell stories in between collecting treasures on the beach and making sand art. A magical hour that my little girl has down as one of her highlights of the holiday (and that’s not bad as Blackgang Chine was the main competition).
To keep things varied we then saw Seska: Fruit Salad, a slightly mad, almost magician. The kids declared him weird but also laughed out loud at his unconventional act. The parents cowered through most of it, as he randomly chose people to ‘help’ him on stage. Luckily I survived the experience, without any embarrassment to my 5 year old.
Carnivals and Fireworks
I haven’t even touched on the subject of a few carnivals and fireworks during the Fringe experience. After a late night of illuminated carnivals and an impressive display of fireworks by the Observatory Bar, Sunday needed to be a day of rest.
Not normally a church goer on a Sunday morning, we headed to Trinty Church. There we experienced an amazing puppet show called Water Babies, performed by The String Theatre. After a few chair manoeuvres, so all the kids could see, we were treated to a charming and very clever performance by them. The show seemed to be enjoyed by children of all ages and adults alike.
We spent out last afternoon on the beach, soaking up the sun and reflecting on our weird and wonderful week in Ventnor. The random quirky acts, spontaneous nature of the events and a general feeling of happiness, will certainly have us coming back for more.
Who goes to Ventnor Fringe?
I saw families, young couples, groups of friends, middle aged and retired people, all enjoying the atmosphere in this Victorian seaside town. This 40 something year old and her soon to be 6 year old fitted in quite nicely. The only part we didn’t experience was the Ventnor International Festival on the Friday. Maybe next time. Same time, same place next year Ventnor?
Thanks for the memories…..
Verdict on our week – It buzzed 9/10