NORTH Berwick has “come to life in a way that the town hasn’t seen for two years” thanks to Fringe by the Sea, say organisers, with the new-look format proving to be a big hit.

The festival began last Friday and runs until Sunday.

In previous years, the harbour area had been used as its main hub but, due to coronavirus and safety regulations surrounding the pandemic, a decision was made to use other parts of the town and introduce some new venues.

As well as a live stage, makers’ market, kid zone and street food stalls in the harbour, the Lodge Grounds is home to the Belhaven Big Top, with the library car park and Marine Hotel also being used as event venues this year.

And after months of planning and almost one week of entertainment so far, the festival has been as entertaining and enjoyable as organisers hoped for, while having to adhere to Covid restrictions.

Rory Steel, director of Fringe by the Sea, said: “Fringe by the Sea’s first weekend saw North Berwick come to life in a way that the town hasn’t seen for two years, and with restrictions now lifted, we are able to release more tickets for sold-out shows such as Peat & Diesel and Huey Morgan.

“Audiences came out in their droves for the events, proving that the thirst for live performances has not been quenched during lockdown.

“Many of the acts had not been on stage for two years – back on home soil, Lulu raised the roof, belting out her many hits; Janey Godley was greeted like a rock star; and Basement Jaxx had the whole town jumping.

“The new venues, Belhaven Big Top and Glenkinchie Lowland Stage, have proved big hits with audiences, to whom we are grateful for adhering to the regulations and mastering the online food and beverage ordering system. 

“The good news is that ordering can now also be done in person at the hatch and consumed either sitting or standing.

“Down at the harbour, those browsing the craft stalls and sampling the food and drink on offer were entertained by a great line-up of musical acts from East Lothian and Edinburgh. The evening segued into DJ sets and the atmosphere was incredible. 

“We are really looking forward to our final weekend, with so many events – many in the town will find watching Silent Adventures almost as much fun as taking part!”

And he added: “The late train from North Berwick to Edinburgh will continue until Sunday night, which is great for all our visitors from the Capital.

“Working within Covid restrictions successfully was the result of many months of planning.

“Many thought we were audacious to announce that the festival was going ahead as far back as February but, with our hearts set on it going to happen, we put our heads down to creating a programme that drew in big names and provided something for everyone.”

An exciting event on Sunday is the chance to see Scotland’s largest puppet, which was created in East Lothian.

Standing at 10 metres tall and called STORM, she was made by Vision Mechanics – which has its creative shed at Drummohr, near Prestonpans – from recycled materials and natural resources.

Weighing in at 500 kilograms, it took staff two years to make her.

Exact details of Storm’s appearance will be confirmed later.

Among the big names still to appear at the festival are Reginald D Hunter, Irvine Welsh, Bombskare and Eddi Reader.

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