BBC Music announces The Fringe

PRS for Music taking part in 10-day outreach programme in the lead-up to The Biggest Weekend

The square black BBC Music logo above large purple text that reads: The Biggest Weekend Fringe

BBC Music today announced The Fringe, a creative and comprehensive 10-day outreach programme which will take place in the lead up to The Biggest Weekend – the BBC’s biggest ever celebration of live music across TV, radio, online and mobile happening on the late May bank holiday weekend.

The 10-day event will include live musical performances, industry insight, workshops and Q&A’s with BBC Radio DJ’s and influential figures, a UK wide tour with BBC Music Introducing,  a new Ten Pieces initiative called No Place Like Challenge, Radio 1’s Academy, employability events and work experience opportunities for young people plus lots more.

The Biggest Weekend Fringe runs from Friday 18th May until Monday 28th May and will travel to the four host cities – Belfast, Coventry, Perth and Swansea – as well as the rest of the UK.

Bob Shennan, Director, BBC Radio and Music, said, “Working closely with a wide range of local partners, The Biggest Weekend Fringe events will offer people from across the UK the opportunity to attend some inspirational and innovative sessions, whether it’s to see how they could have a career in the music industry or just to have a bit of fun.”

The Biggest Weekend UK Fringe

BBC Music is working closely with Music Venue Trust and UK Music to get local and independent venues on board to programme and curate live music under The Biggest Weekend Fringe umbrella. They will come together to celebrate music scenes across the UK sharing the passion and enthusiasm for new and emerging music.

The Biggest Weekend UK Fringe is open to any UK music venue, promoter or organiser to get involved and should reflect the UK’s diverse music scenes and genres, from indie and grime to DJ’s and spoken word. All events taking place will be able to use The Biggest Weekend Fringe branding and shall be listed as an official Fringe event on our pages with Skiddle – the official listing provider. Venues from as far afield as Glasgow and Newquay have already signed up to be Fringe partners and put on events across the UK. 

Mark Davyd, CEO, Music Venue Trust said, “This is a great opportunity to shine a light on incredible grassroots music venues across the country, Music Venue Trust looks forward to working with the BBC to enable large numbers of venues to take part.”

UK Wide Tour with BBC Music Introducing

In addition to the UK Fringe, BBC Music Introducing is taking four bands on tour, starting at The Great Escape festival in Brighton on Friday 18th May and will end on stage performing at The Biggest Weekend. The tour will visit several grassroots venues across the UK and each night will feature support from a new local artist working in conjunction with Local BBC Music Introducing shows. 

BBC Ten Pieces 

BBC Ten Pieces launches its nationwide No Place Like Challenge today. The project encourages school children to create their own version of Kerry Andrew’s No Place Like, a piece which is one of this year’s set of Ten Pieces, celebrating what is special and unique about their home town or school.  In celebration of The Biggest Weekend hundreds of schools across the UK will be holding Ten Pieces assemblies, so far more than 28,000 children have signed up to be involved. The assemblies offer children the chance to get creative with, and celebrate music with the BBC. The assemblies will offer a platform for schools to showcase their responses to the No Place Like Challenge inspired by their local environment.

Aimed at inspiring a generation of children to get creative with classical music, BBC Ten Pieces invites children aged 7-14 to develop their own creative responses to ten pieces of music. The initiative has so far reached over four million school children across the UK, sold out five BBC Proms concerts and won a BAFTA for the Ten Pieces II film. A project delivered by BBC Music and BBC Learning - in conjunction with the BBC Orchestras and Choirs - it marks the biggest commitment the BBC has ever made to music education in our country. Through a range of online resources, UK-wide events and close collaborations with music and arts organisations, Ten Pieces III has now launched for the 17/18 academic year to provide a continuing programme of activity for engagement of a wider age group. 

The Biggest Weekend - Host Cities

In Swansea, Radio 1’s Academy returns and DJ’s including Nick Grimshaw and Matt Edmondson will be hosting free sessions to kick-start and inspire the creative careers of young people in the area. Influential figures from across the creative industries will deliver exclusive hands on workshops, live music performances and industry insight, providing 16-24 year olds with the tools, contacts and information they need to take the next step in their creative careers. Plus Horizons / Gorwelion will present some of the most exciting new Welsh artists at a showcase gig and will host daily acoustic sessions.

Radio 1’s Academy begins its residency in Swansea on 20th – 29th March with Radio 1’s Academy: School’s Tour offering every secondary school in Swansea a chance to get involved. Pupils in Year 10 upwards can attend specially designed sessions presented by Radio 1 DJ’s and featuring star guests from music and the internet in schools across the city. They will also be working with BBC Radio Cymru to offer sessions to Welsh language schools in Swansea.  The Academy’s central week runs 21st - 24th May at Swansea Grand Theatre.

As well as the Academy in Swansea, there will be live broadcasts from BBC Cymru Wales, bringing the best Welsh music to Swansea and the best of Swansea to Wales. On BBC Radio Wales, Janice Long will broadcast her evening show live with a mix of live bands, acoustic sessions and the best guests from the Fringe; and comedian and Swansea City super-fan Elis James will record his Feast of Football podcast in front of a live audience with Danny Gabbidon and Iwan Roberts. On BBC Radio Cymru, Aled Hughes’ morning show will come live from the city featuring stories from all around Swansea Valley and Huw Stephens and Lisa Gwilym will feature highlights of the Fringe in their shows. 

In Perth, the Fringe will work in partnership with the Perth Arts Festival to record a concert with Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra with special guest Marc Almond performing at the Perth Concert Hall for Friday Night Is Music Night. Radio 2’s very own Ken Bruce will be in the city and BBC Radio Scotland's new and alternative music DJ Vic Galloway will broadcast his show live from Perth and Out For The Weekend will be taking listeners back stage at the Festival site at Scone Palace.

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with The L.A.B. Scotland will also be visiting a Primary School in Perth and Kinross to work with pupils on a creative music and digital project. Alongside a composer and players from the orchestra, young people will write, perform and film their own brand-new musical story.

In Coventry, in the centenary year marking the end of the First World War, the BBC Concert Orchestra performs ‘War Horse – The Story In Concert’ featuring Adrian Sutton’s music written for the National Theatre’s production of Michael Morpurgo’s tale of Joey, a young horse taken on a dramatic journey from the calm of the English countryside to the battlefields of the Western Front.  This special concert takes place at Coventry Cathedral, which itself has become a celebrated symbol of reconciliation in post Second World War Britain since its consecration in 1962.

During the Fringe there will be a range of inspirational talks, Q&A’s and workshops with special guests from Radio 2 including Sara Cox and Jeremy Vine, who began his journalistic career at the Coventry Telegraph in 1986. Plus there will also be portable hotspots located around Coventry and Warwickshire in various streets, schools and work places across giving opportunities for performers to bring music to the masses.

In Belfast, there will be live broadcasts from BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio Ulster as well as gigs and events at venues across the city. 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq and Marc Riley welcome Therapy? and Django Django to the stage and Radio Ulster’s new Irish music programme ‘Across the Line’ will broadcast live in concert. Industry focused panels will offer advice and insight for aspiring musicians including ‘Beyond Belfast’ discussing how best to tour beyond the city. 

BBC Radio 4 will also record their show ‘Four Thought’ from Belfast and Swansea during The Fringe.

Employability Events

Throughout The Fringe, influential figures from across the creative industries will deliver hands on workshops providing young people with the tools, contacts and information they need to take the next step in their creative career as well as the opportunity to learn about the music industry from some of the biggest names in the business.

The Fringe will be partnering up with organisations such as PRS for Music, Mixcloud, Freeformers, The Social and BBC Blueroom to run an employability event for 16-24 year olds. The event aims to target hundreds of young people across the four host cities and with a combination of workshops, Q&A’s and networking opportunities to provide them with relevant digital, creative and employability skills.  

BBC Resourcing and Talent will also run a workshop in applying for jobs across all four cities; and there will be marketplaces where local and national organisations will offer 1:1 advice and information around careers, digital and tech opportunities for young people.

Plus there will be over 75 work experience placement opportunities to work at The Biggest Weekend itself in several roles with artist liaison, TV and radio production, live music and events.

Dan Roberts, Editor, BBC Music Introducing / Outreach & Partnerships, The Biggest Weekend said: “Working with our colleagues in Nations and Regions and partners across the UK, BBC Music is delivering a comprehensive programme of events with music at the core. Ranging from centrepiece outside broadcasts across BBC Radio, to intimate music masterclasses and workshops, The Biggest Weekend Fringe aims to engage with local communities, venues and artists, celebrating our love and passion for music.”

Outreach activity is an integral part of the build up to The Biggest Weekend. It is the BBC’s biggest ever celebration of music across TV, radio, online and mobile taking place on the late May bank holiday weekend (25-28 May) over four sites in four nations across four days with over 175,000 tickets. There will be performances from the biggest and best-loved names in music celebrating the incredible breadth and diversity of live music on the BBC including Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Beck, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Orbital, Nigel Kennedy, The Shires, Stereophonics, Strictly Come Dancing with the BBC Concert Orchestra and many many more.

More details about The Biggest Weekend Fringe and tickets will be announced in due course. 


BBC Music

BBC Music is the corporation’s strongest commitment to music in 30 years – comprising of new partnerships and ground-breaking music initiatives led by Director Bob Shennan.  Initiatives have included the classical music initiative for schools ‘Ten Pieces’ and BBC Music Day.  Following the Bafta-nominated Adele at the BBC and Michael Buble at the BBC, in Autumn 2018, three ‘At The BBC’ specials were broadcast featuring Harry Styles, Sam Smith and U2, on BBC One.  October 2017 saw the launch of ‘Sounds Like Friday Night’, a new six part live pop music show for BBC One produced the award-winning independent production company Fulwell 73, and the series will return in the Spring.   BBC Music exclusively commission programming for BBC iPlayer and festivals come alive on the BBC’s digital platforms, with world leading coverage. The BBC Music website is your first step to a personalised music service with playlists of your favourite tracks and the ability to follow the artists you love. The BBC Music app was launched, packed with exclusive music performances, interviews and playlists from across BBC TV, Radio and Online and tailored to your musical taste.

About PRS for Music

Here for music since 1914, PRS for Music is a world-leading music collective management organisation representing the rights of more than 175,000 talented songwriters, composers and music publishers. Redefining the global standard for music royalties, PRS for Music ensures songwriters and composers are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. 

For 110 years it has grown and protected the rights of the music creator community, paying out royalties with more accuracy, transparency and speed. In 2023, PRS for Music paid out £943.6m in royalties and collected a record £1.08 billion in revenues.

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