Cumbria Crack

Carlisle Fringe Festival opens with a city centre Festival Village

60ft whales, comedy, award-winning theatre and a 5-day free-to-view music programme kicks off today in Carlisle with music headliners Complete Stone Roses and Holy Moly and The Crackers at the 3rd edition of Carlisle Fringe Festival which runs 24 August – 2 September 2018.

Over the next 10 days, Carlisle will play host to its annual Fringe festival, welcoming artists from across the UK to perform in 11 different festival venues around the historic city. The festival puts local Cumbrian artists and performer’s centre stage, with 60% of the 90 shows on offer from the county. It’s also an extremely accessible cultural festival, with many of the shows and events being free and all tickets under £8.50.

A city centre music stage will invite performers from Carlisle, Whitehaven, Gretna, Dumfries and Galloway, Penrith, Holland, Workington and the Cumbrian districts.

The Old Fire Station and Stanwix Theatre welcome 15 companies between the two spaces, with a careful balance of dance, theatre and comedy. The Duke by Shon Dale Jones, producer of the Radio 4 series Hugh Hughes, will open the Old Fire Station programme this evening at 6pm.

This weekend, the Stanwix welcome local dance company, DanceAhead with their imaginative and unique adaptation of Shakespeare’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Saturday at 7pm.

The Festival Village took shape earlier this week, with a bright purple Container Theatre, Festival Hub and city centre music stage beginning their 10-day residencies in the centre. There’s even set to be a 60ft inflatable sperm whale in the village on 30 Aug!

The Festival Village welcomes a pick’n’mix programme of free-to-view music, street theatre and ticketed events. Audiences will also be spoilt for choice this weekend, as the International Market returns to the city for 4 days.

On Wednesday night, organisers of the Festival are inviting Carlisle to an open discussion centred around Carlisle as a UK City of Culture. Guest speakers from arts organisations and Carlisle City Council are part of a 5-piece panel, hosted by BBC Cumbria’s, Caroline Robertson. This takes place in the Lanes Shopping centre at 6.00pm and will be broadcast live to the world.

Thursday will welcome a 60ft Whale installation, inviting young audiences inside the belly of the beast, for a 30-minute theatre show. There will be 6 showings between 2pm – 6.30pm, and entry is free.

The Festival Hub, kitted out with a fully licenced bar, will be situated in-front of a new music stage, that welcomes an eclectic mix of music regional, national and international artists.

Annan Town Band will open Saturday’s stage at 2pm with their full band, followed by a mix of Cumbrian and Scottish artists. The Black Guards, No Soap No Radio, The Twitchers, Mustangz Trio, We are Quasars and Wolfpeake from Barrow-in-Furness are among this weekends Cumbrian acts.

>From Scotland, Tiderays, The Mind Sweepers, The Arguments and Jamie-Lee Brown will perform at the festival for the first time on Saturday and Sunday.

The Container Theatre programme features comedians and theatre shows topping the bill, with appearances from Jane Postlethwaite with her show MADE IN CUMBRIA, a Brighton Fringe sell-out show, alongside Georgie Morrell with her hit comedy show A Poke in the Eye.

Theatre goers can also take their pick from a mix of comedy, dance and theatre shows this weekend. The Bureau of Untold Stories on Saturday at 7pm will invite you to an interactive hour-long experience, and local company Prism Arts will present Until the Cows Come Home, a community inspired story presented and performed by their Youth Theatre in Carlisle Cathedral.

The Festivals broad programme is a celebration of Carlisle and its local talent this year, peppered with artists from all across the country. 60% of the programme is made from Cumbrian talent.

Tickets to paid events are capped at £8.50 to help make it accessible for new audiences and more work than ever before has been made free to view. You can view the full fringe programme online at

Tickets for the 2018 Carlisle Fringe are on sale via, by calling 01228 812611 or by calling into the festival pop-up Box Office at Carlisle Town Hall.

Carlisle Fringe is produced by Elektronika, a cultural producer based in Carlisle and Dumfries with the generous support of Carlisle City Council, Arts Council England and Cito Services.

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