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Fringe by the Sea 2021: Basement Jaxx and Peat & Diesel on the bill for community-focussed festival return

Fringe by the Sea
Fringe by the Sea

East Lothian’s Fringe by the Sea festival has announced its 2021 line-up as the event looks to focus on the local community’s pandemic recovery.

Basement Jaxx, Peat & Diesel and Candi Staton are among those on the bill beside a strong community-interest programme for the ten day multi-arts festival in North Berwick.

Preliminary plans are in place for the festival to return this summer between August 6 to 15, with the aim of enhancing community engagement, helping the local economy and allowing people to enjoy live performances in a Covid-secure environment.

Festival Director Rory Steel said: “Over the past year, we’ve seen just what a vital contribution communities play in public health and wellbeing.

“Our intention this year is to celebrate the strength of the East Lothian community, invite others in and create new opportunities for people to connect as well as bring exciting new talent and established names to the region.

“With the festival bringing £1.5m of economic benefit to East Lothian, we hope to provide a welcome boost as we recover from the pandemic.”

In addition to acts rebooked from the cancelled 2020 event including Basement Jaxx, Peat & Diesel, Janey Godley, Candi Staton, The Poozies and the Blues Band, a host of new performers will be announced in the coming weeks and months.

Glenkinchie Johnnie Walker is partnering for the festival’s author, conversational and comedy programmes.

The event is also being supported by partners North Berwick Trust, Belhaven Brewery and DC Thomson Media.

Steel added: “While these are challenging times for event planners, the team has been keeping a positive mindset and is preparing for a number of eventualities as to exactly how the festival will be delivered.

“Safety is the primary concern of any event organiser and we will be guided by the latest Scottish and Local Government directives over the coming months.”

Festiveal general manager Jackie Shuttleworth and director Rory Steel
Festiveal general manager Jackie Shuttleworth and director Rory Steel

The theme of ‘open arms, open spaces, open minds’ will see the festival explore a number of new commission-based projects that will involve diverse groups within its community.

Tying in to Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, another strand will see the festival shine a spotlight on the county’s rich natural environment.

One of the main changes visitors to Fringe by the Sea will notice is the use of new spaces across the town, with outdoor auditoriums enabling social distancing for audiences of up to 200 people – the current guidelines being given by the Scottish Government for event planners.

The Harbour Home of the festival will become a focal point for artists and artisans from East Lothian and beyond to showcase their products from delicious street food and quality ales to handcrafted goods and artistic creations, complementing the artist huts already found at the harbour.

The area will also feature a stage for visitors to enjoy music from bands, choirs and DJs and an interactive area for youngsters.

The relaunched Marine Hotel and Lawn, fresh from its major refurbishment, will host a series of masterclasses and seminars on food and drink from distillers, chefs and critics during the festival.

A number of key performances will also be made available through webcasting.

Paul Bush, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting Fringe by the Sea through Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund. Events are a force for good as they sustain livelihoods and bring social and economic change.

“Through creative thinking and innovation, the event organisers are designing a festival for both artists and the audience to come together in a safe and fun way.”

More information at