The Fringe by the Sea is North Berwick’s annual contribution to the world famous Edinburgh Fringe festival. This year the festival runs from 4 – 13 August.
Now in its 15th year, the Fringe by the Sea allows festival goers to experience a hugely diverse range of acts and events in the lovely relaxing environment of North Berwick.
North Berwick is usually famous for its golf, its sandy beaches, its ice cream and the stunning landmarks of Bass Rock and the North Berwick Law. But, in August each year, it provides locals and visitors alike with entertainment across music, comedy, family, literature, film, and wellbeing events.
The Fringe by the Sea represents a welcome alternative to the somewhat frenzied activity of the Fringe festival in the City. It is a run with love and dedication by the not for profit Fringe by the Sea company, supported by bands of local volunteers and North Berwick Trust.
The attractions of the Fringe by the Sea
The Fringe by the Sea puts on some great headlining acts, but for me the beauty of the festival is in the variety of the events on offer, the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and the free music acts that pop up on the Lighthouse Live Stage.
I like to take a few days off work when the Fringe by the Sea is on and spend some time soaking up the vibes. I’ll book onto a few events, but (weather allowing), the times between events are just as much part of the fun.
Street Food and Bars
There is plenty of variety in the food available from the street food stalls. You’ll find slow roast pork , deli rolls and burgers, wood fired pizzas, smoked salmon, lobster, tacos, vegan specialities and deserts.
The bars are good and well-run, which means that you don’t usually have to spend hours queuing for a drink, which for this kind of event is a real bonus. You can also get a great cup of coffee from local coffee shop and coffee roasters Steampunk.
Family friendly festival
Formerly, when the events were mainly held around the harbour, the areas outside the venues could get crowded. But now that the Fringe by the Sea is held in the Lodge Grounds, there is much more space.
This means it is easy to hang around between events, catch the free music and let the kids off their leash to roam around a bit with their friends (age permitting).
The last point is important. This is primarily a family friendly festival. The kids are well catered for, so the parents can relax too.
Variety in the entertainment on offer
Although there is a fair amount of focus on the music acts, the Fringe by the Sea has a strong line up of other events worth catching.
The literary events are always entertaining. Of course, the authors are usually promoting a new book or some recent work. But I have really enjoyed hearing directly from some big literary names like Ian Rankine and Val McDiarmuid in recent years and also stars from other fields like ex-footballer/broadcaster Pat Nevin who appeared in 2022.
There are also some great environmental events, many held by the Scottish Seabird Centre at the Harbour, and focused on our beautiful beaches and coastline.
And the Makers’ Market is also worth a visit, as it features art, crafts and other wares produced by local artists and crafts-people.
Where is the Fringe by the Sea held?
North Berwick is only about 20 miles from Edinburgh city centre and a 35 minute train journey from Edinburgh Waverley Station. So it is easy to access for visitors attending the main Fringe.
Events are held in North Berwick’s beautiful Lodge Grounds, which are set slightly above the town, close to where the 124 buses (from Edinburgh) stop and about 10 minutes walk from North Berwick Station.
Some events, for example guide tours and beach and coast based events take place in other parts of the town. The location is made clear the Fringe by the Sea guide and when you book tickets.
Highlights of Fringe by the Sea North Berwick 2023
This year the Fringe by the Sea will stage more than 200 events over ten days featuring international acts and great Scottish and local talent.
The full Fringe by the Sea programme is available on the Fringe by the Sea website, but here are some of the exciting highlights.
Friday 4 August 2023
Saturday 5 August 2023
Sunday 6 August 2023
Monday 7 August 2023
Tuesday 8 August 2023
Wednesday 9 August 2023
Thursday 10 August 2023
Friday 11 August 2023
Saturday 12 August 2023
Sunday 13 August 2023
- Susan McCabe – 5 August – 4pm – Lodge Stage
- Dylan Moran – 6 August – 7.30pm – Big Top
- Dara O Briain – 10 August – 8.45pm – Big Top
- Viggo Venn – 13 August – 9.30pm Lodge Stage
- Denise Mina- 4 August – 2.15pm Lodge Stage
- Adam Frost – 5 August- 11am – Big Top
- Maggie O’Farrell – 6 August 10.45 – Lodge Stage
- Helen Peters – 8 August – 12.45pm – Little Top
- Jean-Luc Barbanneau – 9 August – 10am – Lodge Stage
- William Dalrymple – 9 August – 12.15pm- Lodge Stage
- Sean Lusk – 10 August – 1pm – Lodge Stage
- Graeme Macrae Burnet – 11 August – Lodge Stage
Fringe by the Sea Tickets
If you want to book tickets to one of the vents in advance, go to Fringe by the Sea website for a run down of the line ups to make your choices. Links there will take you to Citizen Ticket who handle the bookings. If you already know what you want to see, you can go straight to Citizen ticket here.
There is a Box Office on site throughout the festival, but the more popular events will sell out in advance. So if there is something you particularly want to see, it is best to book early.