Other Events Reviews


Matt Sargeant wows an audience!

If magic is your thing, take this limited opportunity to enjoy the very best at this family-friendly spectacular show that undoubtedly affords the best value on offer at the Fringe. Not only is this my opinion, but the show was completely sold out on opening night as it is every time the Fringe hosts it. There are only a few seats left for the remaining performance tonight (Thursday), so get your magic skates on.

In the stunning setting of the Palace Hotel's Chatsworth Suite, eight members of the High Peak Magic Society dazzle and confuse their audience seated around a number of tables when performing close-up tricks, turns and misdirections with a variety of performance styles ranging from slick, polished and fast-paced to easy-on-the-eye, smooth and out-and-out laid-back baffling.

Each magician has their own way of bamboozling with cards, cups and balls, coins, rubber bands, invisible ink and ropes and rings. Even though they performed right under my nose, I still couldn't spot the trick to the carefully-guarded secrets with my magnifying glasses on! Oh they're good - Chris was voted National Close-up Champion by his peers last year and showed why in a show-stopping finale. Also newly on the scene and clearly going places was 13-year old Anthony, who performed very well for the first time with a fine series of playing-card related stories.

To the chorus of ooohhhhs, arrrhhss, applause, ovations and open-mouthed astonishment, High Peak's magical troupe of Neil, Matt, Ian, Duncan, Chris, Bobby, Andy and the mind-reading mystical monk (or Jim to his friends!) confused and confounded in a joyously warm and entertaining way. Performers were ably assisted by Andy the Master of Ceremonies and "organiser" Neil, with other back-up staff.

Put on your magic glasses or gloves, suspend belief, open your mind and be prepared to get involved in some of the finest close-up magic you'll get the rare opportunity to enjoy. But hurry as tickets are disappearing fast!

David Carlisle

BUXTON CARNIVAL FLOAT - Buxton Festival Fringe

Carnival float 2012 (credit: James Bissett)

The Fringe Festival float in the Buxton Carnival procession has become something of an annual tradition.

This year, it was decked out in distinctive Fringe orange and adorned with posters representing the variety and scale of the Festival Fringe ranging from drama to stand up comedy, and visual arts to music of every sort. Now in its 34th year, the Fringe Festival has grown to include over 170 entries and something in excess of 500 events in more than 40 venues all packed into two amazing weeks in July. The jolly Fringe team, who are all volunteers, even managed to get an orange smile onto the front of the vehicle to represent the happy audiences, artists and performers who continue to build and grow this extraordinary success.

The volunteers on board the float in their bright orange t-shirts were only just visible amidst the mass of orange balloons attached to every surface. In fact it brought to mind the possibility of a new category of prize for the Carnival - the float with the most balloons on - the Fringe float would definitely be the winner!

Jean Ball

BUXTON FOOD AND DRINK FESTIVAL - Buxton Food & Drink Festival

Over 25 food stalls serving food from around the world with entertainment, music & seating

Buxton fringe is home to much poetry and new writing, but I doubt many collections of words possess the emotive power of the phrase, 'Paella this way amigos'. Written on a blackboard, this was the first thing I saw as I approached the food and drink festival on a balmy Friday evening. This is not quite true. The first thing I saw was the people. It was, as we say in Sheffield, rammed.

Of course the good weather is always going to bring people out, but keeping them there is another matter, especially when competing with the rather more earthy delights of the fair up the road.

In terms of the turnout alone, I would say this event was an unqualified success. However, when one looks closer at the fare on offer, it becomes clear that people are being tempted by quality.

Among the delights on offer were Mexican street food, Thai curries, the afore-mentioned paella, wonderful crispy-based pizzas fresh from a wood-fired oven, handmade sausages and burgers and much pulled pork. For those who had a sweeter tooth there were the inevitable cupcakes and the Original Buxton Pudding, which seemed very similar in concept to a Bakewell tart, but with added coconut. Delicious nonetheless.

To wash it all down there was craft cider, Pimms, flavoured vodka topped up with prosecco, and quality craft beer from the creators the official festival ale, Buxton Brewery. Incidentally, if you have not tried Buxton's Festival beer, rectify that immediately. It is the ideal summer session beer, only 2.7% but with more flavour than many beers at twice that strength. An added bonus is 10p from every pint sold goes directly to the fringe.

Long queues were testimony to the quality of the food and drink on offer, but people remained good humoured, swapping tips with strangers about new taste sensations they'd experienced. To put it in some sort of context, the good people from Buxton Brewery informed me that in the first four hours of the Food and Drink Festival, they sold more beer than they do in a week in Derby!

Despite claims that "they are still playing at it" Buxton Brewery opens a brand new bar, The Buxton Tap, in August. It promises to be amazing; as well as their own beers, we are promised rare bottles from around the world and an up-to-date menu that builds on the current street food trend while complementing the beers completely. Next fringe will see it full to bursting!

Great food, great drink, great atmosphere, great weather, I could go on, but you were there, right? This is the sort of event people take Instagram photos of and post them on Facebook, or more aptly, stuffing-your-Facebook. Surely it must be repeated next year.

Malcolm Lomax


Band of The Corps of Royal Engineers

I like a tattoo. No, not that sort; although Buxton's blessed with a large number of tattoo parlours, and my friend has just had this amazing one done across her lower back - but I digress. I like a military tattoo, from being taken as a wee child to one in Cardiff Castle, and in more recent years several visits to probably the UK's most well known military tattoo - Edinburgh. (Shown on the BBC each year - seek it out!) And did you know, the word 'tattoo' comes from the closing-time cry in the inns in the Low Countries during the 17th and 18th centuries - 'Doe den tap toe' ('Turn off the taps')

The Buxton Military Tattoo holds its own. The setting; the Devonshire Dome (home to the University of Derby and Buxton & Leek College) is a fitting setting. The height and size of the space more than accommodates the audience and performers, the acoustics work wonderfully with the music. And this is no small operation. Months of planning, setting up in pretty much a day; sound equipment, videoing, chairs, marking out the floor, hanging the flags, etc. Organisers from the tattoo have been a regular sight in the Dome over the last few months, and the work pays off.

And what do you get? Well what you'd expect. Guardsmen standing to attention greeted us; lots of people in uniform; pipes and drums; military bands from different regiments and forces and familiar music - Dambusters march from the air cadets, St. Patrick's Day from the Irish Guards and Cwm Rhondda from the Royal Welsh (I still want to type 'Welch') among others. And a few surprises - I heard Poker Face (Lady Gaga) being played as I arrived.

Colonel Alasdair Hutton hosted the event, introducing the different bands and brought a polished, friendly gravitas to his commentary. Oh, and I loved his trews!

For all the entertainment, it's very fitting that the first half finishes with a reminder about what sits behind all the music. 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment provided an operational patrol display, with their commanding officer introducing each member of the patrol and what their different roles are, as they demonstrated how the patrol would go out and cover ground. We were told the names, ages and towns where these men (and dog) are from and, although humour comes through, it is important to have this reality check.

The climax of the tattoo - of any tattoo, is when the different bands come together and play as one. And this is where the space gets filled, both physically and with sound. It was fitting to have the traditional end to the evening show with 'Now the Day is over' and the Lone Piper, before the bands marched off in different directions - although sadly not actually through the town...

A good show, thank you for your hospitality. Haste ye back next year!

Maria Carnegie


Discover Buxton Tram "WONDER OF THE PEAK"

A typical Buxton wet and cold summer's day as I mounted the steps of Buxton's great new venture - a guided tour of the town on a miniature tram (actually a converted Dairy Crest milk float!). The conversion has been done very attractively with heroic bright red livery and inside padded seats and an interesting display of old photographs of Buxton. There are even tartan rugs donated by the Edinburgh Woollen Shop to wrap around you if the weather is very cold.

Michael Clement is both driver and guide and as we cruised slowly round Buxton he gave a lively account of the many historical buildings that we passed pausing long enough for passengers to visit any building of interest to them. Michael explained that he adjusts the tour to suit the passengers, there being rather more of interest in Buxton than can be taken in during a fifty minute tour. So when I was on the tram we missed out the Devonshire Dome and Pooles Cavern as I had often been there and instead we visited St Anne's Church and were very pleased to find it was open.

This is a delightful way of touring Buxton to admire its stunning architecture particularly if the weather is bad, which happens all too frequently, or for those who find walking difficult. The tram runs every day leaving from outside the Fringe Information Desk every hour from 10.00am until 4.00. Very much a transport of delight!



You may already have been surprised and amazed to see a tropical seascape developing in the window of The Green Man Gallery.

Sunday's Knitting a New Landscape workshop was designed to add to this already colourful display and also to educate still more people, both adults and children, about the Peak District's extraordinary history and the fact that 300 million years ago it was being formed beneath a tropical sea.

This was a popular event with the organisers estimating around 40 people coming in throughout the day but there was a reassuring number of helpers so that nobody was left floundering (sorry) as they created underwater bits and bobs through crochet, knitting, knitting with netting (yes really) and other creative techniques. If in doubt, add some googly eyes, was a useful mantra, but there was also some underlying science going on as we observed how crochet was the ideal medium to render the mathematical formations of coral.

I was certainly buoyed up (sorry - they keep on coming don't they) by the success of my initial experiment knitting a... well I'm not quite sure what, but it was very frilly and knitted out of purple and pink netting. Following this I made the mistake of trying to knit some kelp using just the right colour of wool and a suggested 'cast two on and then two off at the start of each row' technique that had to be explained to me I think about 20 times. The idea was to create an undulating edge but despite help from two people on either side of me it seemed to have a strong urge to get narrower and narrower. I don't give up that easily however and have taken it home to complete and return - whether the gallery wants it or not.

Around me some magnificent shells and sea slugs took shape and I liked the way we were all working towards something greater than the sum of the individual parts (bit like the Fringe banner on the bandstand in that way). And even in the odd moments of personal struggle - yet another missing stitch - there was a feeling of solidarity; I had a pleasant conversation with someone about the trauma of their needlework lessons at school.

Textile art, knitting and crochet are ripe for rediscovery and The Green Man has plans to establish some workshops in the autumn. It is also good to hear that the Ancient Landscapes exhibition is to be in the window for another week to show off all our efforts.

Stephanie Billen