LUDLOW Fringe Festival starts on Saturday and will bring two weeks of art and laughter to the town, boosting the coffers of hardpressed businesses.

The festival is in its eighth year and has a programme of more than 100 events taking place across 40 venues in and around the town over 16 days.

Performers will be a mix of local and national talent as well as international.

There is music, comedy, theatre, film, cabaret, poetry, dance, visual art, workshops, talks, kids’ activities and storytelling.

Over the years, Ludlow Fringe has grown to become one of the biggest regional arts festivals, attracting 800 participants and 12,000 visitors.

As an independent arts, community and culture festival, Ludlow Fringe was established in 2013 to provide an inclusive, vibrant and diverse programme of events in Ludlow each year.

Visitors come from all over the country and overseas.

The organisers remain keen to keep the Fringe as accessible and affordable as possible. The maximum ticket price is capped, with most events offering concessionary rates and many are even free to enjoy.

There will be street activities for people to take part in as well as shows all over town.

“The team are over the moon with our programme for 2019,” said Anita Bigsby, the festival’s managing director.

“There is so much on offer this year. We really hope people will come from near and far to support each and every one of our performers. The arts make such a valuable contribution to our community and it’s a great opportunity to see the town really come alive and embrace such a diverse array of talent.”

The Ludlow Fringe has become the main event after the long-running traditional Ludlow Festival with a Shakespeare play in the grounds of the castle as a centrepiece became commercially unviable.

Organisers of the Fringe have made it more diverse and accessible rather than just for those into Shakespeare.

By increasing the number of indoor venues, the event is not so vulnerable to the weather as when the focus was open air shows in the grounds of Ludlow Castle.

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