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Rochester Fringe Festival opens today

The eighth annual KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival kicks off today, and continuing its trend of expanding by a full day each year, has reached a stretch of 12 days.

This year’s theme is “Leap A Little,” with organizers encouraging audiences to get out of their comfort zones, whether that be the kinds of art you show up to take in, or the new-to-you cultural venues around the city.

Toward that end, the festival is again offering more than 500 shows (more than 150 of them free) taking place in and around downtown Rochester. This year, it has expanded its list of neighborhood venues to include Avenue D Rec Center and Lincoln Library (both presented by Joseph Avenue Arts & Culture Alliance), UUU Art Collective on State Street, and Granite Mills Commons at High Falls — where you can listen to storyteller Nate DiMeo’s Rochester-inspired episode of his podcast “The Memory Palace.”

Also this year, Rochester Fringe has partnered with Rochester’s Puerto Rican Festival to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month on Friday, Sept. 15, with a free screening of the film “Residente,” (as part of the Pedestrian Drive-in lineup at Spiegelgarden), themed food trucks, and more.

The performing arts-focused festival spans all genres, with many dazzling multimedia shows and events that are appropriate for every age.

For a full schedule of the festival, a list of venues, maps, and other info, go to The festival also has an app available on Google Play and Apple App Stores.


Credit Provided by KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival
The Spiegelgarden will host "Bushwhacked British Bake Off."

One Fringe Place: The dazzling hub of the Fringe, One Fringe Place (corner of East Main and Gibbs streets) houses the Spiegeltent and Spiegelgarden, the Fringe box office and information booth, ATMs, food trucks, and several shows throughout the event. The Spiegelgarden will host the site-specific shows “Bushwhacked Backyard,” “Bushwhacked British Bake Off,” “Bushwhacked Boozy British Bake Off,” “Dashboard Dramas VI,” and “Complimentary Heckling,” as well as the Ask Us Anything Booth, Kids Day activities, and the Pedestrian Drive-In.

Across the street is Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, where comedian Mike Birbiglia will perform Friday, September 20, at 7:30 p.m.; Storyteller Nate DiMeo will present “The Memory Palace Live” there on Thursday, September 19 and Saturday, September 21, at 7:30 p.m.

Next door, the free Gospel Sunday program will take place in Kilbourn Hall (26 Gibbs St.) on Sunday, September 15, 2 p.m.

Outdoor venues: Parcel 5 (next to One East Avenue) is the location for the first weekend of Friday and Saturday on the Fringe, a free program by returning French street theater troupe, Plasticiens Volants. The new show, “Pearl: Secrets of the Sea” will begin with a parade starting at East Avenue and Chestnut Street to the parcel, where the show will take place. Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Credit Provided by KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival
British mass-singalong sensation Massaoke returns to host free, participatory performances.

The second weekend of Friday and Saturday on the Fringe, the Chestnut Street stage (between East Avenue and East Main Street) will host free, participatory performances by returning British mass-singalong sensation Massaoke. The group will perform live musical numbers for the karaoke crowd in “Night at the Musicals” on Friday, September 20, 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. And on Saturday, September 21, 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Massaoke will perform “Mix Tape,” its all-new lineup of hairbrush anthems.

Part of that second weekend, the Fringe Street Beat dance competition is back for its fourth year — and with a cash prize of $1,200 for the team with the best moves. Saturday, September 21, on Chestnut Street. Preliminary rounds start at 1 p.m.; and finals run from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free to watch and appropriate for all ages. If you want to compete, registration is now open at and costs $5 per team.

Neighborhood venues: Some locations host several venues, so be sure to check show information for specifics.

The Avyarium, 274 N. Goodman St.

Blackfriars Theatre, 795 East Main St.

Central Library, 115 South Ave.

Eastman School of Music, 26 Gibbs St.

Garth Fagan Dance Studio, 50 Chestnut St.

George Eastman Museum, 900 East Ave.

Geva Theatre Center, 75 Woodbury Blvd.

High Falls, 74 Brown's Race

Java’s, 16 Gibbs St.

Joseph Avenue Arts & Culture Alliance @ Avenue D Rec Center, 200 Avenue D

Joseph Avenue Arts & Culture Alliance @ Lincoln Library, 851 Joseph Ave.

Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St.

The Little Theatre, 240 East Ave.

Lyric Theatre, 440 East Ave.

Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave.

Merriman Street, between Atlantic and University

MuCCC, 142 Atlantic Ave.

Nox, 302 N. Goodman St.

Parcel 5, 275 East Main St.

RIT City Art Space, 250 East Main St.

Rochester Dance Theatre, 7250 Cumberland St.

Rochester Museum & Science Center, Strasenburgh Planetarium, 657 East Ave.

School of the Arts, 45 Prince St.

UUU Art Collective, 153 State St.

Village Gate, 274 N. Goodman St.

Writers & Books, 740 University Ave.


Fringe shows are separately ticketed and prices vary from program to program. All tickets can be purchased online at; by phone at (585) 957-9837; in person at all Fringe venues starting one hour prior to the performance; and in person at the Fringe Box Office in One Fringe Place. Many performances will fill up quick, so it’s recommended you buy tickets in advance.

There are also more than 150 free shows at this year’s Fringe, including both weekends of Friday and Saturday on the Fringe. To explore the free performances, go to, click “Find a show,” and look for the “Only free shows” filter option.


Convenient parking for the East End venues can be found in the East End parking garage at the corner of Scio Street and East Avenue. Additional parking can be found at Washington Square (111 Woodbury Boulevard), in the Midtown Garage (East Broad Street and Clinton Avenue), Court Street Garage (194 Court St.), Mortimer Street Parking Garage (83 Mortimer St.), Five Star Bank Plaza (100 Chestnut St.), and South Avenue Garage (39 Stone St.).

Daily parking at each of these locations costs $7 per car. Also be on the lookout for street parking or spots in surface lots throughout the neighborhood.

The Fringe is a pedestrian- and bike-friendly event. There will be plenty of bike parking at One Fringe Place.

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