How to Fringe: How to Survive and Thrive at Orlando's Massive Theatre Festival

The Fringe Button is required for entry into the Festival.
The Fringe Button is required for entry into the Festival. | © Orlando Fringe
Photo of Dawn Ferchak
27 May 2018

2018 marks the 27th Annual Orlando Fringe Theatre Festival, one of the city’s most celebrated and anticipated cultural arts events. It’s massive, with hundreds of shows to see, plus music, activities, food and drink.

Every year, the festival takes over Loch Haven Park in the Mills 50 district, with the primary Fringe-managed venues at the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA), Orlando Reparatory Threatre (Rep), and the Lowndes Shakespeare Center (Lowndes), plus KIDS FRINGE and Visual Fringe. This year’s Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV) locations are The Black Venue at The Venue, Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park, and Savoy Orlando. All of the BYOV locations are within two miles of Fringe proper.

But wait. There’s more.

Each of the three Fringe-managed venues house varying numbers of color-coded theatres – one at OMA, three at the Rep, and seven at Lowndes. There are also several “site-specific” shows, which could be held in a lobby, a van, a bathroom, or someplace else entirely. Site-specific show locations are found in the show descriptions themselves.

Outdoor stages and Fringe Lawn activities add to the fun. | © Orlando Fringe

Why so many venues? To accommodate the “roughly 500 uncensored and non-juried performances,” plus the outdoor stage of free entertainment including music, poetry and spoken word, and more. From children’s shows to burlesque, Fringe pretty much has it all. The only question is how to see it.

Getting Fringe around is easy. | © Orlando Fringe

Get your button

The Fringe button is how things begin. It’s $10 and the button is good for the entire festival run. It is required for entry into all shows (for guests over 13 years old). All button proceeds fund Fringe, while all show ticket proceeds go 100% to the performers. Buttons are available at all Fringe venues or via an online voucher.

As word of mouth and reviews circulate, shows will sell out. It’s best to grab “must-sees” early, just in case. Ticket prices range from free to $12.

Plan the attack

Late entry is not permitted for any shows, so planning is vital. This is a huge annual event and will be crowded, especially when it comes to parking. Use maps and schedules on the website to determine how to get to shows and when, and allow extra time for parking.

Use the FringeOMatic

There is an app available to make Fringing easier. FringeOMatic is a free app that helps plan schedules (including linking with Google calendars). There is no registration required; all that is needed is a Google account

Prepare for weather

It’s hot this time of year in Orlando and sudden rain showers are also a possibility. Hydrate, wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and carry a pocket umbrella.

Enjoy everything, not just the shows

The Fringe Lawn features the infamous Beer Tent, the festival stage, food trucks, vendors, and more. Visual Fringe features art available for purchase (all by local artists) and featured art from local teens. Kids Fringe (weekends only) features loads of free activities for children.

The 27th Annual Orlando International Fringe Festival runs from May 15-28, 2018. Visit the official website for more details, show schedules, ticket sales and more.

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