Henry Widdicombe, co-founder and director of Machynlleth Comedy Festival and recently Aberystwyth Comedy Festival, says he wants the two to become some of the biggest in the UK.
The Machynlleth Comedy Festival opened its doors in 2010, welcoming 300 visitors to the mid Wales town. However, the festival now hosts approximately 8,000 people annually and has featured comedians such as Stuart Lee, James Acaster, Nish Kumar and Joe Lycett.
Despite these successes, Henry and his team are hopeful that they can expand, growing Aberystwyth Comedy Festival into an even bigger event.
Speaking to the Cambrian News, he said: “When we realised that Machynlleth Comedy Festival had reached a natural limit in terms of potential capacity, we looked for a second Welsh location where we could use the lessons learned in developing Machynlleth Comedy Festival to build a second event with the ability to outgrow its sister event.
“Little Wander [Henry’s production company] looked at a number of locations but nothing quite matched the unique attributes that Aberystwyth had, including the university, rail links, the wealth of performance spaces available and the fantastic hospitality sector — not to mention the stunning location.”
Machynlleth Comedy Festival, is worth over £1 million annually to the Welsh economy in visitor spend and Henry believes that Aber’s own comedy fest could do even more.
“Aberystwyth Comedy Festival has the ability to outgrow that [£1 million]. Bringing thousands of visitors to the town outside of the traditional tourism season will be a huge benefit to local businesses, and also potentially introduce visitors to the town who then may return outside of festival time,” he said.
The group are currently looking for funding to aid in this growth. Recently, Henry approached Aberystwyth Town Council for their support, successfully securing £5,000 in backing. Cllr Alun Williams said: “Aber is an ideal size town for festivals. We should welcome every festival we can as this could be a future for Aber as a festival town.”
The hope is that with backing, the festival can achieve its 10,000-attendee target by 2024.
The line-up for this year’s festival was recently announced and will see performances from Ed Gamble, Rosie Jones, Angela Barnes and a myriad of other comedians who make their way to the town this October for the festival’s second year since the Covid pandemic.
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