Area Activity Guide: Rochester Fringe Festival

On the Fringe of Greatness

Did you know that Rochester’s Fringe Festival has become one of the largest and most successful in the world? That’s among more than 200 annual festivals worldwide! It only makes sense, given Rochester’s penchant for turning small-city festivals into world-class events. This extravaganza of experimental theatre truly offers something for everyone, but don’t take it personally if it takes a while to find your personal favorite. It’s not unusual for spectators to wander from one performance to another, ditching out of the first only to stick around for multiple showings of the next. Pretty much everything at the Fringe is an experiment, so try to expand your comfort zone, think out of the box, and spend a little more time than you might think reasonable exploring the wonders that await.

Free at the Fringe

This year, Rochester Fringe is bursting at the seams with 175 free shows and events. The first weekend of the festival will fill Parcel 5 with people, music, and enormous otherworldly balloons thanks to a combination of local musicians and performances of “Big Bang” by Plasticiens Volants. Parcel 5 will also play host to a variety of additional free outdoor musical performances both weekends of the festival. Numerous indoor venues will hold no-cost shows throughout the week, with Java’s on Gibbs Street featuring bands every day. The Pedestrian Drive-In will return this year for a series of free movie screenings outside the Spiegelgarden. In a new twist, each of the films will feature a Rochester connection.

Must-See Shows

Several acts sure to sell out are returning for encore performances in 2017. Dashboard Dramas has sold out every year since 2014, and it’s sure to do the same this year. There will be FOUR silent disco dance parties in the Spiegeltent, but you’ll need to buy tickets in a hurry. This spectacular experience has been selling out since 2013. With four performances lined up, you have a good chance of scoring a seat in the theatre for the uplifting, award-winning musical comedy “The Bicycle Men.” Even if your must-see show sells out, you mustn’t lose heart. With 500 shows in 25 venues over 10 days, if you don’t find something else worth seeing, you’re just not trying hard enough.

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