Buxton Festival Fringe 2023 – Our Pick of 20 Highlights Not to Miss

Why go to the Buxton Festival Fringe? The festival is an affordable, friendly, low-pressure line-up of music, comedy, theatre, spoken word, visual arts and other performances that defy classification, all nestled in the unique landscape of the UK’s highest market town. Buxton’s Fringe has a reputation for diversity, often showcasing acts that are warming up for their bigger cousin at Edinburgh Festival, and 2023 looks more packed and varied than ever before with around 190 events this year. So if you think there’s nothing in the Fringe for you, you haven’t looked hard enough.

Fringe chair Stephen Walker says: “Now that Covid is hopefully in our rear view mirror, entrants are approaching this year’s Fringe with confidence and we are delighted by the ambition on display, whether that is working with bigger casts, incorporating multimedia technology or simply trying something new. We’re excited to discover what the performers and artists have in store for us.”

Buxton Festival Fringe 2023

The multitude of offerings is bewildering so Explore Buxton has a few suggestions to get you started and we’ve picked 20 highlights to look out for this year.

If you’re still having trouble deciding what to go and see, the Fringe themselves can help. Apart from a weighty, printed brochure available around the town, they now have an app (available on iOS and Android), which is basically the brochure on your phone.

Buxton Festival Fringe 2023

If that wasn’t enough, the Fringe also now has a podcast and Youtube channel so you can really stay ahead of the game. For those who prefer more traditional modes of communication, don’t panic, the festival retains its usual information desk in the Pavilion Gardens, next to the entrance to the Café.

With a such a vast programme, it’s also a good idea to check for late changes/cancellations at buxtonfringe.org.uk/latechanges.

The Fringe is a registered charity. See buxtonfringe.org.uk for how to donate or become a Fringe Friend.

Ok, let’s dive in:

1. FRINGE: Fringe on Friday – New for 2023

Fringe Event: New for 2023! Buxton Fringe performers offer free extracts from their shows. Please support them. It is a brilliant way to get a sneak preview of the many excellent performances on offer.

When: 7th & 14th July 2023, 5pm – 6pm
Where: Bandstand, Pavilion Gardens
Entry / Cost: Free

Bookings: Just turn up

2. FRINGE: Fringe Sunday

Fringe Event: Join in the Fringe fun for their traditional, family-friendly picnic and party in the park. Buy some Derbyshire ice cream and they’ll provide the entertainment. Expect dance, music, singing, comedy, magic and more! Pick up a Fringe programme or become a Fringe Friend. Mingle with the stars at this free showcase event!

When: 9th July 2023, 2pm – 4.30pm
Where: Bandstand, Pavilion Gardens
Entry / Cost: Free

Bookings: Just turn up

Buxton Festival Fringe 2023

3. CHILDREN’S EVENTS: Mr Sleepybum – Jody Kamali

Nominated: Best Kids Show Leicester Comedy Festival 2023. Mr Sleepybum re-enacts some of his favourite dreams in this high-energy, inventive physical comedy show for all the family. ‘Hilarious from start to finish’ Andy Day, CBeebies. ‘My whole family cried laughing. It was hilarious’, The Guardian.

When: 22nd, 23rd Jul 12.15pm to 1pm
Where: Underground at The Old Clubhouse
Entry / Cost: £8 (Child £5, Conc £7), Ages 5+, Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) £20

Bookings: 2023.underthefringe.com/shows/mr-sleepybum

4. CHILDREN’S EVENTS: Tiny! Butterflies, Bugs, and Very Strange Beasties – Stone and Water

Children’s Events: Join Stone and Water artists in the Pavilion Gardens for a day of talking and creating fabulous creatures. They might be the butterflies and bumblebees that live in the Gardens already. They might be something truly alarming that you would love to find there! Materials provided: you just bring ideas and smiles!

When: 16th July 2023, 11am to 3pm
Where: Pavilion Gardens Playground
Entry / Cost: Free, ages 3+

Bookings: Just turn up

5. CHILDREN’S EVENTS: The Wagon of Wonder – Babbling Vagabonds

Children’s Events: The wondrous one-stop pop-up shop for all your adventure needs! Join Prentice and Dogsbury as they unpack unusual items from The Wagon Of Wonder. Discover the fantastic stories each item has to tell. An outdoor adventure! Picnic blankets provided! Dress for the weather.

When: 22nd & 23rd July 2023, 2pm to 3.15pm, 7pm to 8.15pm
Where: Gadley Woods, Buxton, SK17 6XR
Entry / Cost: Free, ages 3+

Bookings: wegottickets.com/babblingvagabonds

Buxton Festival Fringe 2023 6. COMEDY: Barrel of Laughs – Underground

The Fringe institution comes of age! Returning for its 18th year of uncensored, unpredictable fun. Enjoy another three Fridays of Festival mayhem, showcasing the finest comedy talent from the UK circuit. Complete sell-out 2006-2022 (2020 doesn’t count). ‘Has to be the best bargain of the Buxton Fringe’, Buxton Fringe Review.

When: 7th, 14th & 21st July 2023, 8.30pm to 10pm
Where: Underground at The Old Clubhouse
Entry / Cost: £9

Bookings: 2023.underthefringe.com/shows/barrel-of-laughs / Info: 0208 144 0070

7. COMEDY: David Mcinver, Small Boy Trapped in a Wellness Retreat – David Mcinver

Put on your nicest dressing gown, throw your phone into the nearest lake, sit in a comfortable position and gently rest your attention on this joke-oriented relaxation experience. ‘An outstanding, theatrical piece of one-man comedy’ **** Chortle. **** FringeGuru. **** BroadwayBaby. ‘Weirdly heartwarming’ Guardian. As seen on the BBC.

When: 17th July 10pm to 11pm, 18th July 8.30pm to 9.30pm
Where: Underground at The Old Clubhouse
Entry / Cost: £9 (Conc £8)

Bookings: 2023.underthefringe.com/shows/barrel-of-laughs / Info: 0208 144 0070

Buxton Festival Fringe 2023

8. COMEDY: Laugh for Life Comedy, A Charity Compilation Show – Henry Churniavsky

Join Master of Ceremonies Henry Churniavsky who brings back to Buxton Festival Fringe his Charity Compilation Show with some of the best comedians from around the North West. Profits from show are going to Mental Health Charities. So join Henry and his friends for an hour of fun.

When: 9th July 2023, 6pm to 7pm
Where: The Green Man Gallery – Workshop Room
Entry / Cost: £5 (Child £3, Conc £4.50), Ages 16+

Bookings via the Gallery, tel: 01298 937375 or thegreenmangallery.com

9. DANCE: Buxton Day of Dance – Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris

A feast of traditional dancing from around the country. The streets of Buxton will be filled with the music, colour, passion, energy and humour that the Morris brings. Over 150 dancers and musicians from 16 different Morris sides hosted by Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris.

When: 15th July 2023, 10.30am to 4.30pm
Where: Around the Town
Entry / Cost: Free

Bookings: Just turn up!

10. FILM: Short Film Exhibition – Buxton Film

Buxton Film with Buxton Opera House present a programme of short films from filmmakers in our region. There will be prizes and laurels for the best of the selection as well as an audience vote – so come and enjoy an evening of wide-ranging and unexpected gems!

When: 17th July 2023, 7.30pm to 9pm
Where: Pavilion Arts Centre – Auditorium
Entry / Cost: £5 (Child and Conc £1), Concessions for students only

Bookings: buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/event/buxton-film-short-film-exhibition

Buxton Festival Fringe 2023

11. MUSIC: Big Band’s Back in Town – High Peak Big Band

Acclaimed band returns to the Festival Fringe with an unforgettable evening of jazz, swing, Latin and the classic big band sound with vocals. This 17-piece ensemble draws on music ranging from favourites from the musical theatre to exciting arrangements of contemporary compositions.

When: 7th July 2023, 8pm to 10.30pm
Where: Conservative Club, Concert Place, Buxton
Entry / Cost: £10, (Child £5, Conc £8)

Bookings: buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/event/high-peak-big-band-back-in-townor email or [email protected]

12. MUSIC: A Positive Mental Health Songbook – Darren Poyzer

Positive thinking is key for Darren Poyzer, a war veteran and mental health system survivor, who through a career in community music and songwriting, has found an entertaining, inspirational way to share insightful stories and experiences. ‘His music and songwriting is beautiful… One of my Fringe highlights.’ Buxton Fringe Review (New Writing).

When: 9th July 2023 8.30pm to 9.30pm, 16th July 10pm to 11pm, 21st July 4pm to 5pm
Where: The Green Man Gallery
Entry / Cost: £8 (Conc £7), Ages 6+

Bookings: 2023.underthefringe.com/shows/darren-poyzer

13. SPOKEN WORD: Meet the Experts, Lunch Time Talks – Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Drop-in for free lunchtime talks by museum and heritage specialists from Derbyshire and beyond. Talks include Derbyshire Treasures and the Parwich Hoard, Neolithic Lifeways in Derbyshire: New evidence from Fox Hole Cave and Carsington Pasture Cave and Restoring the medieval Chapel window at Haddon Hall. More details can be found on the museum Facebook page.

When: 12th, 13th & 14th July 2023, 1pm to 2pm
Where: Buxton Methodist Church – Upstairs Room
Entry / Cost: Free, donations welcome

Bookings: Just turn up

Buxton Festival Fringe 2023

14. STREET THEATRE: Old Haunts by Tom Crawshaw & Alice de Cent – Buxton Our Street

Matt’s passion is Buxton’s past, Claire’s distracted by ghostly goings-on. Join our daft duo for historical hilarity, and silly side-quests. Begin your self-guided audio adventure outside the Pump Room with just a smartphone and headphones. Follow the tour, or get side-tracked by an apparition on a mission – it’s your choice! (New Writing).

When: 5th – 23rd July 2023, all day
Where: Underground at The Old Clubhouse
Entry / Cost: Free, Ages 10+

Bookings: Visit oldhaunts.uk and just head to the Pump Room to start.

15. THEATRE: Revenant – Devils & Dust

Carter has found the perfect island location for his zombie movie, but only three days to shoot it, and no lead actor… until the mysterious Vardell arrives. Visceral, blackly comic and genuinely scary. Starring Patrick O’Donnell (nominated Best Actor Manchester Fringe, 2021). ‘Superb storytelling… a deliciously dark tale’ **** Starburst.

When: 5th July 2023 5.30pm to 6.35pm, 6th & 13th July 8.30pm to 9.35pm, 20th July 4pm to 5.05pm
Where: Underground at The Old Clubhouse
Entry / Cost: £10 (Conc £9)

Bookings: 2023.underthefringe.com/shows/revenant

16. THEATRE: The Final Girl – Sweet Productions

Do you like scary movies? Join award-winning Heather-Rose Andrews (‘stunning performance’ ***** Wee Review) as she explores horror films, the women who endure them, and why we are compelled to watch – no matter how gory it gets. A lifetime love of horror and darkly comic tour of genre and feminism. (New Writing).

When: 19th July 2023 8.30pm to 9.30pm, 20th, 21st July 2.30pm to 3.30pm, 23rd July 5.30pm to 6.30pm
Where: Underground at The Old Clubhouse
Entry / Cost: £10 (Conc £9)

Bookings: 2023.underthefringe.com/shows/final-girl

Buxton Festival Fringe 2023

17. VISUAL ARTS: Buxton Flower Pot Trail – Funny Wonders

Head to where you see the dots; can you find the flowerpots? Family fun around Buxton. Trail maps available from the Pump Room, Poole’s Cavern and The Green Man Gallery. Cost £1. Or download a copy for free from funnywonders.org.uk.

When: 5th – 23rd July 2023, all day
Where: Around the Town
Entry / Cost: Free, Donations welcome.

18. VISUAL ARTS: Buxton Photo Challenge 2023 – High Peak Photography Club

Come and join Buxton’s own Photomarathon – a photography challenge to take six photos on six themes in six hours. All you need is your camera with empty memory card or phone. Arrive between 10 and 11am to get your themes then off you go! Prizes for the best photos of each theme! You can find further information on Facebook here or email [email protected].

When: 22nd July 2023, 10am to 4pm
Where: The Old Clubhouse, Water Street
Entry / Cost: £5 (Child £3.50), cash on the door, on the day

Bookings: No need to book, just turn up and register on the day.

19. AND MORE: An Evening of Close up Magic and Mentalism – High Peak Magic Circle

Your table will be the stage for the amazing, family-friendly, close-up magic of the High Peak Magic Society members. Cards, coins, rings and ropes all feature in the magic, and hold on to your watches as these guys move from table to table performing mystifying sleight of hand miracles.

When: 18th & 19th July 7.30pm to 10pm
Where: Pavilion Gardens – Octagon
Entry / Cost: £15

Bookings: buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/event/an-evening-of-close-up-magic-mentalism-1

20. AND MORE: Two Old Geezers Prattle on About Buxton Pubs – BCA Events

Julian Cohen, author of a book about the history of 62 past and present Buxton pubs, will be in conversation with Simon Fussell of Buxton Civic Association. Expect weird yet true facts, happy and sad stories, colourful characters, the serious and the amusing, and join in the fun.

When: 11th July 2023, 4pm to 5.15pm, 18th July 6pm to 7.15pm
Where: Buxton Brewery Tap House
Entry / Cost: Free

Bookings: Just turn up. Further information, email: [email protected]

Buxton Festival Fringe

T: 07719 528419 (Fringe Information desk during Fringe only) or Fringe Marketing Officer: 01298 79351. General enquiries: 07792 346 127.

E: [email protected] 


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