Artist registrations are open through June 15, 2024! Learn more.

Fringe Story

The First Fringe Festival: Edinburgh, 1947

The very first Fringe Festival took place in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 when eight theatre groups arrived uninvited to the Edinburgh International Festival. Though they were not a part of the official festival program, the groups decided to stage their performances in the “fringe” of the International Festival in unconventional venues.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival still runs every August and is known as the largest art and media festival in the world. Today, there are hundreds of Fringe Festivals around the world celebrating the values of Fringe and providing a meaningful platform for any artist to perform and engage with audiences.

The Philadelphia Fringe Festival was founded on and continues to honor the tradition of the historic Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

  • Artists do not need to be invited or curated to participate.
  • All types of performance and artwork are welcome.
  • Traditional and unconventional venues are used throughout the city.
  • Experimentation, discovery, and exploration are celebrated!

The Philadelphia Fringe Festival Story

The first Philadelphia Fringe Festival was presented in 1997 by the organization now known as FringeArts, with the intention of providing opportunities for contemporary performing artists to connect with audiences in an exciting social environment. The first Festival took over Philadelphia’s Old City for five days, and featured 60 performing groups that presented their work in theaters, nightclubs, galleries, alleys, abandoned buildings and at least one parked car.

Today, the annual Philadelphia Fringe Festival features more than 1,000 performances by national, international and Philadelphia-based artists of all disciplines. For 3 weeks, these innovators fill the public and private spaces across the city with nonstop, wild creativity for audiences of more than 40,000.

Included in the festival are hundreds of independently produced performances and events, work presented by partnering Festival Hubs and producers, and a slate of programs curated by FringeArts. In the true spirit of the international “Fringe” movement, there is no limit to the ways that artists and audiences can participate in and experience the festival.

Home Base

In 2013, FringeArts moved into its first permanent home at 140 Christopher Columbus Boulevard—renovating a historic pumping station for the city’s fire trucks into a state-of-the-art performance center. Featuring a theater, studio space, restaurant, beer garden and box office, the FringeArts site serves as the epicenter of the Fringe Festival every September, as well as a year-round venue presenting other festivals and events curated by the organization. The center is a vibrant gathering place where performers and audiences can advance the global dialogue about art, and where one can always expect the unexpected.

Find out more about FringeArts and the work presented beyond the Philadelphia Fringe Festival:


Please Wait
Talking to the Box Office...