The Big Free Fringe Weekend Returns to Guildford With Free Fringe Shows Throughout July

Opera on the Balcony
Opera on the Balcony

The Big Free Fringe Weekend returns to Guildford on 29 and 30 June  with Opera on the Balcony, morris dancers, jazz choirs, comedy theatre and more, followed by an exciting line-up of Free Fringe shows throughout July.

Guildford Fringe Festival is planning a show-stopping, foot-tapping and fun-filled Free Fringe line-up as part of this year’s jam-packed Festival programme. The excitement begins at the Free Fringe Weekend on 29 and 30 June, when you can’t fail to be entertained if you head into the town centre.

On 29 June, join professional caricaturist David Groves on the High Street in the Guildford Fringe Gazebo, and track down Street to the Point Theatre Company who will be roaming the town centre with Fab News – a heart-warming act that aims to transmit a little happiness into the world!  Later, The Guildhall on Guildford’s High Street becomes the stage for a free evening of Opera on the Balcony for the second year running after its huge success in 2018. The cast, who will perform on the balcony whilst the audience watches from the High Street (bring a blanket or chair), includes Roberto Abate (Opera North and Grange Park Opera) and Katie Bird (Opera North and English National Opera) accompanied by Kelvin Lim (The Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Glyndebourne). Expect to hear arias from much-loved operas including Puccini’s La Bohème and Verdi’s La Traviata

On 30 June, Morris Dance, in its many forms – from the familiar handkerchiefs and bells of the Cotswold style to the dark and pagan Border style – will be part of celebrations. Listen out for Godalming & Guildford jazz choirs performing, and catch them again when they return on 28 July to round off the Festival. In The Back Room of the The Star Inn, Emmerdale meets Monty Python in the deliciously surreal award-winning play Janet and, also at that venue, Tom Toal in Mediocre Boy sees the brains behind the After All This Time Always podcast ask some tough questions of himself and his place in the comedy industry and the world itself. For both Janet and Tom Toal, book your place via the Box Office (£5 refundable deposit applies). 

From 3 – 18 July, catch Guildford Arts’ free 24th summer exhibition. Yvonne Arnaud Art at the Mill Studio at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is an exciting display of contemporary paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, ceramics and glasswork from local and nationally renowned artists. 

Musical treats abound throughout July. Guildford’s fabulous Rock Choir, who have been involved with Guildford Fringe Festival since day one, are well known for their wonderful harmonies and amazing versions of the songs everyone knows and loves. Catch them out and about on 6 July. Join popular local singer-songwriter Gavin Thomas on 5 July for Acoustic Request Night and then on 17 July for The GT Live Sessions, a hugely popular showcase night, both at The Britannia Pub. Local favourites The Nefarious Picaroons will deliver stomped up pop-folk on 19 July, weaving unique arrangements of highly selected covers and original material into their set to create a bouncy, joyous, festival experience with a mix of acoustic and electric instruments. Bring friends, family and a picnic to Music in The Meadows at Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground on 21 July. The afternoon of live music in the beautiful wildflower meadows is free – all funds raised through a raffle and contributions will be donated to The Rainbow Trust and Shooting Star Chase.

Amanda Masters, General Manager for Experience Guildford, said: “Experience Guildford are proud to support Free Fringe once again. The free events give new audiences a taste of the Festival and bring more visitors into the town centre benefitting the wider community, at the time and through future visits.”

Nick Wyschna, Managing Director of Guildford Fringe Festival, said: “The Free Fringe events are so important to me. Although 90% of our income is from ticket sales (so very much needed) the whole idea and ethos of Guildford Fringe Festival is to make the arts accessible. The fact is, not everyone can afford to enjoy the arts, which is heart-breaking for me. The Free Fringe events, which are dotted throughout the Festival, mean that there is something for everyone to enjoy. We have comedy, theatre, street theatre, choirs, crafts and loads more that people can enjoy without spending a penny.”

An exciting programme of over 120 events will be on offer to audiences at this year’s Guildford Fringe Festival, running from 28 June until 28 July across 12 venues from pubs and theatres to a natural burial reserve and the BBC Surrey radio studio. The Festival will offer a month full of top arts picks offering everything from music, visual arts and theatre, through to comedy, cabaret, spoken word, children’s events and more. This will be the third year in which Guildford Fringe Festival opens at G Live with Gag House Comedy Superstars. With a line-up that includes Hal Cruttenden, Chris McCausland, Susan Murray and Paul Sinha it is no surprise that it is selling fast.

Visit the Guildford Fringe Festival website, GuildfordFringeFestival.com, for the full line-up including Free Fringe, and to book tickets. During the Festival, the Fringe Team will be at The Star Inn, Quarry Street, 7 days a week, from 11am-4pm, where they will run a Box Office and be happy to chat about the Festival.

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