United States Association of Fringe Festivals

What is Fringe?


Very generally speaking, Fringes are...

  • Focused on the performing arts: At it's core, Fringe gives a spotlight to theater, dance, puppetry, music, visual arts, and spoken word. Fringes don't have a focus on one single discipline or genre, but are a performing-arts smörgåsbord

  • Uncensored: From family friendly to bawdy and burlesque, Fringes do not curate or constrain the material or content used in participating show.

  • Easy to participate in: Ticket prices are purposely low for audiences and production fees are low for artists. We strive to make the arts available to everyone. Show selection varies from festival to festival but is generally quite open to participation by the gamut of amateurs to professionals

  • Festivals: Fringes around the world vary. They last from just a few days to a few weeks and involve lots of people at multiple venues.

  • Original: Fringes feature a wide array of original material—sometimes by design, but usually because that’s what Fringes do naturally well.

  • Rapid-fire: Typically, tech is minimal and time is a factor at our festivals. Shows are often kept brief (Fringes most frequently have shows right around 60 minutes in length) and technical requirements kept simple (minor sets, streamlined cues, nothing elaborate)

It all started in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, as an alternative festival that played concurrently with the Edinburgh International Festival. Though not invited to participate, groups of actors, musicians, and the like performed at various venues on the fringe of the EIF. In 1948, Robert Kemp, a local journalist, gave it the name Fringe: "Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before..." (Read more about Fringe history at Wikipedia.)

And so the Fringe as we know it was born. Fringe performing arts festivals can now be found all over the world, with dozens thriving in the United States today.

In the U.S., no one organization or individual owns, controls or regulates the name “Fringe”. There are no national rules for how each individual festivals operate; festival content, finances, and structure vary from city to city. Generally, all festivals are committed to an open forum of expression that minimizes the financial risks for both artists and audiences. Fringes work hard to keep production fees and ticket prices low so that more people can participate in our festivals.


About fringefestivals.us

This site was set up after a Fringe organizers’ meeting in 2008. Content is contributed by all the Fringes that participate in the producers’ meeting. If you have any questions, we'd like to hear them.