About Sidmouth Fringe Sessions
How did it start?
Sidmouth Fringe started out with just a few informal performances and open mic sessions during Sidmouth Folk week at the Thorn Park 'alternative' festival campsite. The evening-only performances were set up by local farmer 'McBuzz' as evening entertainment for the festival campers after it was suggested that his traditional oak-framed barn would make a great venue for live music!
Although the event is still small it has gained popularity in recent years with both artist's and audiences who enjoy the friendly laid-back atmosphere, rural setting and growing reputation for high calibre live music. The impressive line ups caught the eye of the local BBC Introducing team and in 2014 we had live artist interviews with the event hosted by BBC Introducing presenter James Santer. We are pleased that James and the team have become a regular feature adding a bit of sparkle to the hosting!
Where is it?
It is held at the Thorn Park Golf Centre, Salcombe Regis, near Sidmouth on the East Devon coast - some 30 acres of parkland surrounded by beautiful countryside within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Beauty - and centres around McBuzz's oak-framed barn with performance stage at one end of the large bar which leads out to a veranda and adjacent chill-out marquee. Click here for directions to Thorn Park.
What else is on offer?
To Drink: There are excellent locally-brewed beers from the Branscombe Vale Brewery (from the next village along the coast), Otter Ales of Honiton and locally made cider- all served with a smile from McBuzz's Bar headed up by Merry our lovely chief bar lady and her crew.
To Eat: Delicious hot food with vege and vegan options are available during the evening.
To Chill: There is a covered veranda with tables and chairs and large marquee adjacent to the barn with haybale seating and tables - great for chilling and enjoying a drink and taking in the countryside views.
The Big Screen: As the Sessions have become more popular it can get quite cosy inside the barn so we now have a live multi-camera feed of the stage action to our big screen on the outside of the barn. So if you fancy a sit down - you can grab a beer, a curry and a haybale and watch all the stage action from the attached marquee!
Can I camp?
Yes! Right next door are 22 acres of parkland on what is a golf course for 50 weeks a year! Click here for more details on camping...
Why is admission Free? (Our ethos)
Despite hosting some of the best artists in the country, admission to the Fringe is currently FREE!! This is only possible because:
1.) The small group of enthusiastic locals who organise the event put in their time for free because they really enjoy 'a music celebration' on their doorstep and have been privileged to host some very talented musicians over the years.
2.) The artists also make it possible by generously agreeing to play for minimised rate/donations/expenses only.
It is hoped that the staging costs are covered by bar sales with any profits being put back into helping with artist’s expenses and improving the following year’s event. So as long as people buy lots of drinks and donate generously into the artist’s buckets (and we can balance the books) - we hope to keep it free! :)
There is a regular independent shuttle bus that runs up and down the hill to Sidmouth all day until late night with a bus stop right outside Thorn Park. So you can leave your car at Thorn Park, spend the day in the town at the Sidmouth Folk Festival and get the bus back for the Fringe Sessions!
The main Sidmouth Folk Festival
The Sidmouth Fringe coincides with the famous Sidmouth Folk Festival week now in its 62nd year! However the Fringe Sessions are completely independent and aim to complement the traditional folk music and dance performances held down in the town all week. Check out what's happening at the main festival website here...
Supported by BBC Introducing (Devon)
We are really lucky that in recent years the Fringe Sessions have been hosted by BBC Introducing presenter/producer and champion of new music James Santer and his team. James has a reputation for his infectious enthusiasm for new music and for nuturing new talent onto increasingly larger stages through his popular BBC Introducing radio shows which 'bring you the best in unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar music.'
“It’s THE festival I go to to find my new favourite band or artist”
James Santer - Presenter/Producer
BBC Introducing in Devon, October 2015