Swindon’s annual arts festival is back, bigger and better than ever.


“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that Swinge! - Swindon’s annual arts festival is back, bigger and better than ever.

The Swindon Fringe Festival (aka Swinge) is back for its fourth edition this April and like all the best cultural gatherings it promises to be an extravaganza of stand-up comedy, cutting-edge drama, dance, music and a little bit of magic.

The whole shebang kicks off at 7pm on Friday 5th April at The Crossing hub in Swindon’s Brunel Centre where culture vultures, music buffs, arts aficionados and the simply curious will all be greeted with a glass of bubbly upon arrival and immediately thrust into the Swinge spirit.

The grand opening features eye-popping street performances from Darine Flanagan and Madi Worthington accompanied by live music from Flame & Co, Hallelugenia and Canute’s Plastic Army. There will also be raffles, prizes and a chance to win tickets for the following nine days’ performances. Swinge-rs of all ages are invited!

Swinge is organized by Swindon-based performing arts company Madam Renards and takes place across a variety of local venues, including The Brunel Centre, Wyvern Theatre, Artsite and Swindon Dance, all conveniently located for town-centre parking. The festival will feature an array of new acts, both local and international, but also some returning favourites.

On Saturday 6th April The Groovy Pig Music Festival is back groovier than ever at The Victoria pub. Swinge’s premier music event will feature 7 great hours of music spanning an eclectic variety of genres, tempos and styles.

Among the other highlights are Nathan Peter Grassi and Ida Berglow Kenneway, the winners of the Best Performance Award at last year’s festival. Last year they conquered audiences with their slapstick comedy ‘Nathan and Ida’s Hot Dog Stand’, set in the French Riviera. This year (Monday 8th April at Artsite) it’s back to the south of France for ‘Tropez!’ a fast-paced comedy about a cat burglar and a gigolo, inspired perchance by the Hitchcock classic ‘To Catch a Thief’ (with Nathan channeling his inner Cary Grant and Ida as Grace Kelly).

As for the magic, that comes from Seska’s ‘Spot the Difference! (Sunday 7th April at Artsite), billed as “crazier than finding a penguin in your fridge”. Seska performs incredibly silly magic tricks for all ages - kids laugh out loud, dads guffaw loudly and mums faint at his feet, and there are even fabulously silly prizes up for grabs.

“This festival helps nurture local talent and gives people with new ideas a chance,” says Mollie Campbell from Swinge’s organising committee. “We’ve seen shows start out as support acts here and go on to headline at Edinburgh. Swindon is brilliant, it has so much to offer for so many different niche performers, but no-one talks about it loud enough. I feel like my mission is to shout about it as much as possible so that people know that art does happen here.”

Well, art certainly does happen here and in a big way over ten days at the Swindon Fringe Festival (5 – 14 April). For a full schedule and information on tickets and venues, go to www.swindonfringefestival.com.