TW Fringe, modelled on the world-famous Scottish capital’s arts festival, will see hundreds of events take place across Tunbridge Wells between July 4-17.
The two-week extravaganza returns to scores of venues in the town ranging from local pubs to community halls, churches, The Forum and The Pantiles. There will be a mixture of free and fee-paying attractions. Organisers say this year will see more artists, extra performances and new venues, in a sign that the carnival can outgrow its pandemic origins and become a permanent part of the Tunbridge Wells cultural scene.
For 2022, there are some 170 events at 47 venues across the town, organiser Debbie King said.
“Last year, a lot of creatives pulled together and started looking at all the amazing people we have in Tunbridge Wells. We also needed to get people back into our businesses – all the businesses suffered as well,” recalled Debbie, who also runs performing arts school The Talentz.
She works with Nell Price of Arty Farty, comedian Aimee Cooper, and Grace Simpson of chocolatier Goupie.
Stressing the way in which the multi-location festival brought the town together, Debbie added: “I’ve met businesses that I never would have gone into before. But it was all about hope.
“In the first year (2021), there still ended up being restrictions, but two and a half thousand people still ended up coming to see things. And, she said, the attraction of the festival this year is its accessibility.
“It’s affordable. You can go and see an award-winning show. We’re helping businesses. We’re helping artists. Seeing shows offers a win-win-win all round.”
Funding from RTW Together’s Business Improvement District – means the festival now uses local suppliers – strengthening the festival’s investment in the community, said Debbie.
“We have more venues – this year, we are working at the (1,000-seat) Assembly Hall, with the ‘Scummy Mummies’,” Debbie noted.
Other new venues include Tangier Wood, a 10-acre private woodland near The Pantiles, the Pitcher & Piano on Church Road, Britten’s Music in Grove Hill Road, and even The Chapel hairdressers, Chapel Place.