THE return of the Colchester Fringe Festival for its second instalment saw a range of shows take to both the stage and the streets for four days of performances.

Running from Thursday, October 20, to Sunday, October 23, the Colchester Fringe offered music, poetry, comedy, drag, theatre, and children’s plays in the city centre as well as some of Colchester’s better-known venues, such as the Mercury and Headgate Theatre. 

It not only attracted Colchester and Essex-based talent, but it drew in performers internationally too – some acts came from Iceland, Sweden, and the United States to perform at the festival, which is expected to make the month of October its own during future years.

The idea for a Colchester Fringe came from an Essex University PhD student, Cameron Abbott-Betts, who attended Sir Charles Lucas School in Colchester in the early noughties.

With the Fringe starting to make a name for itself, sales were up by 600 tickets compared to a year ago – and Mr Abbott-Betts explained its burgeoning reputation was one of the reasons for its success this year.

He said: “It’s one of those things – we were very lucky because we had really strong pre-sales.

“Last year, 50 per cent of tickets were sold during the festival; this year, the weather wasn’t as good so we sold less on the day, but we already had that safety net a really strong start.”

He added that although the programme was much bigger this year, the new challenge alongside that was ensuring the Fringe was growing within its means.

“It’s hard to process what we could have done differently; our programme was very big this year and you need to keep it manageable – it’s got to be a slow build.

“In some ways, it might lose its heart and soul if it became too big.”

With the Fringe returning next year, though it may not be bigger, it will likely be better as it continues to cement its position in Essex’s cultural scene.

Photo credits: Jon Dadds