Visiting comedy festivals

By | Category: Travel news

logoWhen the mainstream media talks of festivals, the names that crop up are ones like Edinburgh Glastonbury or Glyndebourne. They all draw visitors but increasingly comedy festivals where favourite stand-ups appear with those trying to make a career for themselves also appear. It wasn’t that long ago that Michael Macintyre became the first comedian to sell a million copies of a DVD of his show.

Comedy festivals are big business and unlike music festivals that take place in field and are largely self-contained, comedy festivals distribute money into the local economy. You don’t need a castle, fantastic views or a large shopping centre. You could almost be sited on a waste tip. As long as you can construct a venue, then anywhere can hold a comedy festival. Is it little wonder then that there are dozens of them taking place each year?

Although Bristol’s has come and gone there are still Bath and Neath, Glasgow and Machynlleth, Manchester and Galway, Hull and Cardiff, Liverpool and Brighton as well as Edinburgh, Cambridge, Derby, Guernsey, Harrogate, Hastings, Margate, Reading, Southend and Taunton. That is just twenty for you of the many that will run until the end of the year.

The daddy of them all though is probably Leicester which began last week and runs until the 21st of February. It has been going for 23 years so pre-dates the comedy boom of the last fifteen years or so. Its original patron was Norman Wisdom, the bridge who almost links the slapstick era with the observational comedy that exists today.

People turn up in their thousands over the life of these festivals and even the smaller ones in towns that hardly rate mentions in tourist guides other than for comedy shows have become just that – tourist towns for a few days of the year. They attract top-flight names and those names attract more visitors who need accommodation, food and something to do when the comedy isn’t on.

In Leicester this year, Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival,  there will be Vic & Bob, Johnny Vegas, Katherine Ryan and Josie Long. This year the comedian of the year competition is sponsored by the Leicester Mercury. previous winners have included Johnny Vegas, Rhod Gilbert, Miles Jupp and Jason Manford – all household names now. If newspapers and television  sponsorship have hitched their wagons to comedy, they must see potential. After all, the Dave channel is just recycled comedy but it is a channel with  better ratings than some terretrial programmes manage.

Today, alone, there will be 26 shows for visitors to see For a town, a comedy festival is a better investment than a music festival in a field. But there is a similarity. Just like a Glastonbury or a Reading, people stay for more than one day so a town benefits more.

The comedy festival has become one of the biggest visitor draws that a town can have.

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