The success of last year’s first ever Southend Festival means BID is delighted to bring it back this summer.

What makes this all the more exciting, is that the popular Fringe Festival will accompany it.

It has been running independently since 2016 and I hope it will continue to be a vibrant, punky and youthful sister act to our own festival.

The Southend Fringe Festival kicks off on February 22 with a “Roaring Twenties’” themed party at Dr Legba’s in the Royal Hotel. This will launch a summer weekend of new and exciting shows put on by Southend’s burgeoning arts community.

Essentially, the Fringe was inspired by Mark Winstanley, a theatre maker and teacher and, after a week of teaching, he suggested that his students create a fringe festival, “to engage Southend with the quality of theatre produced in the town”. Those self-same students have now graduated and so after three years of running this unique festival, a group of them have taken over the day-to-day organisation and creative direction of the Fringe.

Last year, Southend Fringe delivered three fun-filled days of drag performances, poetry readings and public art, across three venues. In 2019, it is expanding to include an LGBTQIA community programme.