Theatre lovers? Why not book a holiday cottage in Barnstaple or North Devon for a memorable theatre weekend this June. From Thursday June 23rd to Sunday June 26th – in beautiful North Devon see up to 38 different shows at Barnstaple’s impressive Fringe TheatreFest. It’s a Fringe Theatre Festival like no other and is attracting a growing audience from right across the UK.

In order from top left to bottom right: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Stall in Barnstaple, A Coffee Shop in Barnstaple, The Totally Awesome Detective Agency, Brickhead Yeah Yeah Yeah.

The Festival features artists and companies from throughout the UK and Europe. Now celebrating its 10th Anniversary Year, Fringe TheatreFest venues are right in the heart of historic Barnstaple, all within easy walking distance of each other. They include three venues in the Queen’s Theatre, one in a converted Baptist Hall and also St Anne’s Community Arts centre on Paternoster Row which dates back to the 14th century - once a charnel house, then a school where John Gay, of Beggar’s Opera fame, was educated. In addition to the more traditional venue-placed performances there are site-specific shows too: why not take in a show that takes place in a car? Or one in Barnstaple’s famous Pannier Market? Or allow yourself to be led to a mystery venue where you’ll help solve a puzzle.

What Festival Fun Lies in Store?

The festival is alive day and night with theatre performances of every sort - from the intimate to the epic, from comic to tragic – and all points in between. In all honesty, unless you are a fringe theatre addict, you won’t have heard of any of the Companies present, such as Self Assembly Theatre, The Last Baguette Theatre Company, Clown Noir and Third Knock Theatre (just some of the names from this year’s clutch of innovative companies). However, they represent the latest breed of performers, writers and directors, making their way in the theatrical world. Somewhere in their midst are tomorrow’s household names and maybe even an Oscar Winner! See them here first and you’ll have a tale to tell in later years.

Ticket prices are deliberately kept as low as possible so that everyone can enjoy the delights that theatre has to offer. Top price is £5, while a Frequent Fringe voucher lets you see 6 shows for just £15. I between shows, grab a few moments to create a picnic lunch from the delicatessens, butchers ad bakers shops on Butchers Row before heading to the next venue.

Staying in a comfortable and well-equipped North Devon holiday cottage in Barnstaple or one if its surrounding villages, will give you all the flexibility you need to get the most of Fringe TheatreFest whilst also enjoying other aspects of North Devon – without being tied to hotel meal times. The festival runs from late afternoon on the Thursday and Friday, and from lunch time on Saturday and Sunday so there is plenty of time to make the most of all the other extraordinary delights that North Devon has to offer: wake yourselves up with a walk on a stretch of the South West Coast Path, wander along the beautiful award winning beaches such as Saunton Sands or Woolacombe, adventure onto wild and rugged Exmoor and don’t forget to have a cream-tea while you’re here.

Barnstaple's "Hidden Gem" of a Festival

Once described as one of the ‘hidden gems’ of the fringe theatre world, the festival no longer hides its light under a bushel: the heady buzz of festival activities permeates the town. So how to choose which shows to see? Have a look online at the schedule and book in advance. Or wait until you get here and catch 5-minute tasters of the shows on offer from 3-4pm each day in the Barnstaple Coffee Shop. Or, wait until the Fringe Review sheet is published each day to see what the reviewers make of the shows. But best of all, come into the foyers of the theatres and listen to the buzz: ask other audience members what they’ve seen and liked. Read the comments audiences leave on Post-It notes. The fun of fringing is often trying something new - but beware: you may well find yourself seeing many more shows than you meant to – and come back again next year. That happens a lot! Experience FringeFest in Barnstaple this June and you’ll see why.

Where Can I Find Me A Holiday Cottage To Stay?

Not only are the shows a big hit with audiences – so are North Devon’s holiday cottages. We’ve found a few choice cottages still available for the TheatreFest weekend. For more options go to http://www.myfavouriteholidaycottages.co.uk to book directly with the owner. Book soon!

Weavers Cottage at Muddlebridge Farm: Sleeps 4

Weavers Cottage - Sleeps 4

The Byre - Sleeps 6

The Byre - Sleeps 6

Ivy Cottage - Sleeps 2

Ivy Cottage - Sleeps 2

Pine Lodge - Sleeps 10

Pine Lodge - Sleeps 10

The Haven - sleeps 6

The Haven - Sleeps 6