About Fringe

Questions. Answers. Really.

Rochester loves the Fringe.

In 2012, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival debuted, attracting more than 30,000 attendees and exceeding all expectations big and small. In 2013, over 50,000 people from the Greater Rochester area, all fifty states, and around the globe attended more than 360 shows in 28 venues in and around downtown Rochester. The third Fringe in 2014 drew more than 60,000 visitors, and featured CIRCUS ORANGE’s spectacular TRICYCLE public show as well as the epic SPOON RIVER ROCHESTER and the return of the Magic Cristal Spiegeltent. Skipping ahead to 2016, we celebrated new Fringe records with attendance at more than 67,000 visitors in over 25 venues with 500+ performances and events. Rave reviews continue to pour in from critics, news outlets, social, bloggers and festival goers alike. In fact, in just seven years, Rochester’s Fringe has become one of the most successful fringe festivals in the nation—and one of Rochester’s newest, biggest and most anticipated festivals.

For the Uninitiated.

In case you missed the first, second, third, fourth or even the fifth Fringe, allow us to catch you up. Quickly. The Fringe is a 10-day, all-out, no-holds-barred, multi-disciplinary visual and performing arts festival featuring international, national and local artists. It showcases theater (physical, street, musical), comedy, visual arts, family entertainment, music, dance, spoken word, opera, poetry, literature and experiences that have yet to even be imagined!

Pioneers of the Fringe

The Fringe is a not-for-profit corporation pioneered by several of Rochester’s leading cultural institutions including Geva Theatre Center, George Eastman House and Garth Fagan Dance, as well as emerging groups such as PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine. The Board of Directors includes representatives from the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Bond Shoeneck & King PLLC, Boylan Code LLC, the Eastman School of Music, Mengel Metzger and Barr & Co. LLP, Writers & Books and the Center for Youth. The Fringe is a proud member of the US Association of Fringe Festivals.

Born in Scotland. Loved the World Over.

In 1947, eight theatre groups crashed the newly established and curated Edinburgh International Festival. Uninvited and unwelcome, the groups performed anyway at venues they arranged themselves. The following year, Scottish journalist Robert Kemp coined the term “fringe festival” to describe these non-juried shows. The Edinburgh Fringe is now aptly nicknamed “the largest show on earth.” The 2015 festival saw 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues from talent in 49 countries and lasted the entire month of August. An estimated 2,298,090 tickets had been issued for shows across Scotland’s capital. It grosses more than £100 million, or $164 million USD, for the Scottish economy alone. Fringe venues run the gamut from proper theatres to a public restroom. Today, there are 300 fringe festivals worldwide, with 50 occurring in the US and counting.

Rochester’s Only Bifurcated Festival.

It’s tradition. A few grand-scale events will be produced and presented by the Fringe itself. We floored Rochester in 2012 and 2013 with thrilling performances of renowned aerialists BANDALOOP as they soared and danced on the side of the 21-story HSBC Plaza. 2014’s free performance of CIRCUS ORANGE in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at Manhattan Square was the runaway hit of the Fringe, drawing 10,000 spectators. 2015 gave us the scene-stealing GROUNDED AERIAL and had us all staring skyward. In 2016, NYC’s STREB Extreme Action Company performed on three jaw-dropping stages in Parcel 5 right in the heart of the city, with headliner shows taking place in the Spiegeltent and the milestone return of Emmy winning comedian, Patton Oswalt to Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music. World-renowned site-specific theatre company, Rimini Protokoll created its second-only US production of Remote X in our fair city with REMOTE ROCHESTER.

Fringe produces all Gibbs Street events, including free shows on the stage, street performers, and outdoor movies under the stars in everyone’s favourite urban popup lounge in the Spiegelgarden. While this “half” of the Fringe shows are curated by Fringe, the other “half” are curated by Fringe venues. In fact, the vast majority of our shows are submitted via Fringe to its venues, who in turn curate their own lineups. Creativity abounds. Fringe-curated shows + venue-curated shows = a bifurcated festival. A signature of Rochester Fringe. Expect a few grand-scale events this year. Ready?

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