volunteer in our venues!


We started out as a group of friends, living and working in the North-East, who love Fringe Festivals and thought it would be great to create our own in Durham City. This is a grassroots organisation made up of local people, working alongside local businesses, looking to grow a collective dream.

We’ve set up as a Community Interest Company (‘CIC’) to run the festival. It’s a non-profit organisation and we plan to convert our organisation to a registered charity in 2023.

For our first year in 2021 we kept it small.  Just 4 main venues with 70 to 170 seats. In 2022 we added another venue and put on 144 performances of 55 shows. For 2023 we have added a 6th venue as we continue to grow.

DFF is a grassroots community-led organisation which aims to deliver an annual festival celebrating performing and visual arts.

DFF brings the diverse communities of County Durham together, with the historic city of Durham at the heart of the festival. We aim to provide a showcase for local and regional performers and artists, as well as provide a reason for international practitioners to come to Durham.

We concentrate our venues in the city centre to create a real fringe festival atmosphere, with audiences and artists able to move easily between venues to support a wide variety of acts, helping develop a wide palette of artistic tastes.

The Durham Fringe Festival will run from Wednesday, 26th July to Sunday, 30th July, 2023. The closing date for performer applications is Friday, 24th March, 2023.

Durham Fringe Festival is dedicated to supporting independent performers and artists while creating opportunities for diverse communities to experience boundary-pushing theatre and live performances at affordable rates.

Shows are given a slot or slots, usually around an hour in length, at a suitable venue.

Audiences pay a flat fee for the performance. Artists and audiences are encouraged to attend a variety of performances throughout the festival, and the proximity of venues and low ticket prices encourage engagement with a diverse array of acts.

As well as managing the festival, we offer a unique curated festival experience for artists.  We aim to offer a range of sessions, before, during and after the Festival to help artists develop the skills they need to take their productions to the next level – including sessions on funding and finance, marketing and how to make the most of your fringe.

Our unique funding model means that it is free for your to apply to be part of the Durham Fringe Festival, and if you are accepted we ask you to pay a deposit that will be returned to you after the festival, rather than an application fee.   We also guarantee to pass on 70% of the ticket income to artists, and 20% to venues while keeping only 10% to cover our overheads.

The festival is currently a CIC and we are in the process of becoming a charity, so no money is taken out in profits – making it the most artist-friendly fringe in the country.

We believe Durham City Centre is an amazing space for the entirety of the Durham Community.  We create fringe venues in civic, university and private spaces bringing new audiences into the city centre.  By keeping ticket prices low, we provide a range of performing and visual arts.

Durham Fringe Festival established itself as a Community Interest Company in spring 2021 as a response to the impact COVID-19 had on the performing and visual arts. We have our own board of directors and are independent of Durham County Council. We are in the process of converting the CIC into a registered charity.

DFF came from a group of Durham residents who saw an opportunity to improve access to the performing arts in the city.  Our board has members from their early 20s to their 70s.  Some have experience in theatre, others in marketing, and others in event organisation.

Through a series of surveys and workshops, we engage with audiences, artists, venues and regional partners to continue to improve the DFF.

Over the course of the festival, we work with over 100 different volunteers, of all ages and backgrounds, and are keen to engage with a diverse range of people from across the region.

Conceived at the height of the COVID 19 pandemic, the Durham Fringe Festival was designed to bring vibrancy back to the beautiful City of Durham. We aim to celebrate the amazing talent in our communities, welcome new visitors and support our local businesses and hospitality industry. We have working relationships with the various bodies around the city and have frequent dialogues about how the Durham Fringe Festival can positively impact the offer the city has to its residents, those in the wider County Durham area and visitors to our City and County.

There are over 250 fringe festivals globally. With perhaps the most famous taking place in Edinburgh during August each year.

We believe Durham is well placed to be a fringe festival city. There is a diverse population who relish engagement with live entertainment, truly unique buildings offering themselves as venues, a thriving restaurant and café culture and world-renowned visitor attractions.

Recognising the potential, the seed for a fringe festival has been in place for many years. Our plan was to launch in 2020 but the global pandemic put paid to that. Undeterred, we formed as a CIC in 2021 and held the inaugural Durham Fringe Festival in the summer of 2021 to much acclaim.

In 2021 we had 4 venues and hosted 81 performances of 31 shows. In 2022 we had 5 venues showcasing 144 performances of 55 shows. In 2023 we expect to be even bigger. A taste of the performers and programmes can be found here.

We receive no regular public funding; we rely on grants and private donations to continue hosting the festival every year. You can donate to the Durham Fringe here.

We seek to have low overheads, with only one part-time member of paid staff, we rely heavily on local volunteers to develop and implement the festival.

Literally anyone. Whether you have a long history of performing or want to give performance a go for the first time we are keen to hear from you.  We have hosted international performers visiting the UK for the first time, local acts, regional acts on their way up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, student troupes, community groups, singers, poets, plays, musicals, dancers, acrobats, princes, pirates, and all in between.

Where appropriate, we are keen to source works outside of the traditional application process, created by those in marginalised communities; to ensure The Durham Fringe Festival is relevant to all, and to promote a diverse and inclusive festival of arts.

The Durham Fringe Festival seeks to promote diversity and inclusion and welcomes volunteers from all backgrounds and circumstances. Whilst we don’t pay any of our volunteers, in exceptional circumstances and upon request, the Directors of the Fringe may be able to cover certain volunteer expenses where appropriate.


Venues can come in many shapes and sizes, from purpose built theatrical spaces to bars and outdoor venues… anywhere that can accommodate live performance! The joy of a fringe festival is to see a variety of contrasting performances in a single night, across multiple different venues around the city. This way you can experience the full breadth of the festival’s programme, whilst also visiting some of the city’s best bars and restaurants.

We are so fortunate to be able to hold performances in amazing venues across the City. In 2023 we welcome back the charming Cafedral and Fabio’s Bar as well as the purpose built Assembly Rooms Theatre and City Theatre.

We are also planning to add 2 new venues. Find out more about all our venues here.

Do you have a space that is underutilised or not used at all in the summer. It doesn’t matter what size.

Get in contact and let’s talk.


We follow the advice and guidance from the Government and we urge everyone to behave responsibly and think of the safety of themselves and others.

If you are suffering from or displaying symptoms of COVID-19, and are unable to attend a performance, please notify us as soon as possible prior to the show, and we will offer a full refund.

A good place to start is This Is Durham (www.thisisdurham.com)

In the summer months the university colleges also offer reasonably priced accommodation. You could even get to stay in the historic Durham Castle!

University College (“Castle”) (https://www.durham.ac.uk/event-durham/our-venues/durham-castle/booking-form/)

St Chad’s (https://www.stchads.ac.uk/commercial/bed-breakfast/)

Please contact: [email protected] or drop us a line from our contact page enquiry form.


Please click here to read our full Box Office Terms and Conditions.

Please click here to read our Customer Privacy Policy and here to read our Performers Privacy Policy.

We want to play our part in making the arts more accessible to all. Our venues are all unique. Please contact us for full information on accessibility in our venues.

The British weather cannot always be relied upon, and St Chad’s Garden is an outdoor venue. Here’s how we will handle poor weather conditions.

Click Here to view our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement.


You can get hold of us by phone, email or submitting the below form. Don’t forget to follow us on Socials for all the latest!



Durham Fringe CIC
Stobbilee House
Witton Gilbert



If you prefer to get in touch
over the phone, please call:
07903 871 238
Or Email:
[email protected]