Malvern Fringe Festival

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Malvern Fringe Festival
Industry Fringe theatre
Founded 1977
Key people
Phil Linnell, Chairman
Products Spring Festival,
Live music,
Revenue non-profit
Number of employees

The Malvern Fringe Festival is an arts festival (founded 1977) which takes place in Great Malvern, England. The main events of the Malvern Fringe Festival are the annual the Malvern May Day and parade,[1] and the annual three-day festival held in June as a fringe to the Elgar Festival. These are accompanied by musical and other live events throughout the year.


Malvern Fringe Parade

Malvern Fringe Festival was founded in 1977 by Adrian Mealing, a teacher in Malvern, in collaboration with Andrew Sleigh, Ian Fearnside and Phil Webb. It originated as a reaction to the Malvern Festival which was perceived to be biased towards classical music and appealing towards a national and international audience rather than a local one. A further concern was the continued requirement for the local Council to underwrite the main festival and the feeling that the public expenditure could be more wisely spent.[2][3]

The founding aims of the Fringe were to produce a popular, varied programme of events for the local people of Malvern, to bridge the gap between the "us" and "them" in the arts and to "shake it up a bit in Malvern".

The first year featured 60 events consisting of poetry, world music, folk, jazz, adult and children's theatre performed under the banner of "Associated Events" due to the main Festival's objections to the term 'Fringe', which they considered to be "outside" of the Festival. In 1978, to avoid confusion between the programmes for the two festivals, printed with similar designs at the main festival's insistence, Adrian Mealing hand wrote "Fringe" on over 3000 programmes.[4] As the 1980s approached, the festival grew into a four-week event and the Fringe had established its own identity. Being centrally located between Hereford, Worcester, Gloucester and Cheltenham the Fringe drew a wide audiences from over a 20-mile radius.

During the 1980s, the festival attracted hundreds of visitors with a programme of 120 events over a two-week period. [5] In 1982, Malvern Fringe Arts Ltd became a registered charity.[6] By the 1990s, the Fringe programme had grown to a six-week event and was attracting comedy and cabaret acts that were beginning to establish their reputations, including Eddie Izzard, Lee Evans, Jerry Sadowitz, Jim Tavare, Chris Lynam and a double act featuring Linda Smith and Mark Thomas, plus musical acts as varied as Gong, Juicy Lucy, Voodoo Queens and Loop Guru.

May Day procession in Church Street
May Day procession in Priory Park

In 2006 the Fringe re-launched its three-day festival in June, loosely based upon a theme of Elgar's interests. One of the highlights of this festival was a bicycle race (as cycling was one of Elgar's keen interests) up the steep incline of Great Malvern's Church Street. This event was supported by Commonwealth games gold medalist Liam Killeen, who's from Malvern, and was won by Tour de France cyclist, Arnaud Lenoir.[7] The whole three-day festival was attended by over 5,000 people.[8]

In the autumn of 2006, the Fringe launched a 'folk weekend' featuring Roy Bailey and Jez Lowe.[9]

Malvern May Day[edit]

The Malvern May Day and Parade are an annual community event which has been held in Priory Park, Great Malvern on the Saturday before the May Bank Holiday since 1993.[1]

Local controversy[edit]

Despite an attendance of over 5,000 people the June 2006 festival has been the subject of much negative coverage in the letters pages of the local newspaper with one correspondent calling upon readers to petition the local Member of Parliament to halt any further Fringe activities.[10]

Notable past performers[edit]

Throughout its history Malvern Fringe featured an impressive array of performers, many of whom have gone on to become international stars.









  1. ^ a b "Bard is the theme for May Day event". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 29 April 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 19 January 1978.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 26 January 1978.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 27 April 1978.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Fringe Festival in return to glory days". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 30 July 2004. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Malvern Fringe Arts Ltd Charity Framework". Charity Commission. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Tough test is no place for easy riders". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 9 June 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "How Elgar's music and a bicycle race left a town_buzzing". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 8 June 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c "Folk event could become a regular". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 20 October 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "Fringe Activity". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 11 August 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Fringe Treat for lovers of the recorder". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 1 April 2004. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "World's finest head for town". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 15 February 2002. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "Monkeying around". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 28 February 2003. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Prog gig". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 25 October 2002. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "Fringe brings in Polish band". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 23 August 2002. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "Partying like its 1909 for Fringe". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 18 May 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 
  17. ^ "Ozric Tentacles". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 22 February 2002. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 
  18. ^ "Chamber trio promise Elizabethan spectacle". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 19 January 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  19. ^ "Fringe welcomes feast of entertainment". Malvern Gazette (Newsquest Media Group). 22 April 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 

External links[edit]