The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival (Website | Facebook) begins today and runs through May 27.

The Fringe Festival is one of our favorite events in the area and if you’ve never been now is the time to change that.

Simply put, the Fringe Festival is a theater festival of un-juried shows. Un-jurried means  anyone who wants to enter has an equal shot at getting in the festival. What you end up with are artists who are passionate about their product. It doesn’t mean every show is the best show you’ll ever see, but they are almost all very enjoyable.

Outside the shows there’s plenty to enjoy from food, drinks, outdoor shows, Visual Fringe and Kids Fringe. We’ll get to that in a second but let’s start with the shows.

Seeing a Show

There are over 100 shows and while that can feel overwhelming, don’t fret. The point of Fringe is to see something you normally wouldn’t. Here’s our suggestion on how to start. Pick a night (or weekend afternoon) and a time that you want to Fringe. Look at the schedule there will be about 15-30 shows in those couple hours. Find one that look interesting and just go see it. If you want help picking a show, just head on out to the Fringe lawn and ask people what shows they have seen. If you pick a show and don’t like it…go see another one.

If you still feel it necessary to read Fringe Festival show reviews, you can do so at the Orlando Weekly or the Sentinel.

Getting into the show is pretty straight forward. You need to buy a button for $9 ($5 if you are a Bungalower Member). The button is your festival pass once you have a button you need to buy tickets to see any show. Tickets are around $7-11 for most shows. Show up early to get good seat and plan to stay for the entire show as they won’t let you back in if you leave.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office (located at all show venues) or online.

The button money goes to pay for the festival and the ticket money goes directly to the artists.

New this year they will be offering a Fringe Ten Pack for $99. The pack gets you ten tickets to any show and you can use the pack as your button.

Getting to the Fringe

Before we go any further we should discuss parking. All of Orlando Fringe is in the Loch Haven Park area in Ivanhoe Village.

If you live nearby, we recommend biking and/or taking the bus (think if it like SunRail but with wheels…and running more frequently…and on the weekends). The Ivanhoe Village Main Street has a free bike valet on the Fringe Lawn.

There is always parking, it just sometimes takes time to find a spot. Leave plenty of time to do so and because all venues are in the same area you can walk from one to the other. Leave about 30-45 to find parking just in case because if you arrive late for your show you won’t be let in.

The festival has a good overview of your parking options on their website.

You should note that the schedule will tell you what venue your show is in. Each venue has a color and you can use the Fringe venue map to figure out where you need to go.

Food, Drink and Free Shows at the Fringe Lawn

One of our favorite parts of the fringe festival is just hanging out on the Fringe lawn. That’s that area at Loch Haven park that’s right in the middle of most of the venues. On the lawn they setup food vendors, beer and wine tent and a full bar. There’s also an outdoor stage with free performances. You can see a list of the performers on that stage here.

The Fringe lawn is a great place to start your Fringe day by meeting up with friends and planning out what you want to see and it’s a great place to gather after or in-between performances.

This year to add some variety to the standard food vendors that you find on the lawn, local businesses will be taking turns in a Foodies of the Fringe each weekend. Local restaurants such as Santiago’s Bodega, Hammered Lamb, Hawkers and The Spork will be offering up tapas and lite bites. Here’s the current lineup:

  • Friday May 16 — Santiago’s Bodega-Orlando — Jerk chicken thigh stuffed with pineapple-$4 – Conch ceviche-$4 – Creamy cheese over coconut rice and peas-$4 – Scotch Bonnet & aioli-$4
  • Saturday May 17 — The Bohemian Baker-Winter Park — Delicate lavender tea cakes with Chambord icing-$2 – Apple Danish pie bites with pecan streusel- Decadent pecan amaretto brownie bites-$2 – Parmesan pecan chicken tarts-$2
  • Sunday May 18 — TBD
  • Friday May 23 — The Spork Café-Windermere — Summer salad-$2 – Watermelon gazpacho-$2 – Curried cauliflower tacos-$4 – Black bean burgers-$4
  • Saturday May 24 — Hawkers Asian Street Fare-Orlando — Pad Thai-$4 -Roti with curry sauce-$2 – Duck lettuce wrap-$4
  • Sunday May 25 — The Hammered Lamb-Orlando —Mini grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon, apple, spinach, cheddar, fontina and goat cheese-$4 – Hummus with crostini’s-$3 -Mini lamb gyro-$4

Visual Fringe Art Bazar

The Visual Fringe is an un-juried and uncensored visual art show. The show takes place on Saturday and Sunday during Fringe at the Orlando Museum of Art.

All of the artwork is for sale and the money goes directly to the artists.

Click here for more on Visual Fringe.

Kids Fringe

Fringe isn’t just for adults. There an entire Kids Fringe just for families.

Kids Fringe has a full schedule of activities for kids such as arts and crafts, live performances, classes and even a pillow fight.

Kids Fringe is 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m at the Mennello Museum both weekends of Fringe.

Click here for the complete Kids Fringe schedule.

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