About Minnesota Fringe

There is one big thing that makes Fringe different from any other event in town: All the shows you'll see at Fringe were selected randomly.

Yep. That's right. Each year we select our lineup by placing numbered ping-pong balls into a bingo cage and pulling them out, one by one. From stage veterans to people who are brand new to theater, Minnesota Fringe is a forum for anyone with a story to tell and provides the support to make producing a show as easy as possible.

Anyone (yes, anyone) can apply to have a show in the festival. If you'd like to have a show in the 2017 festival, applications will go live in November here on our website.

Minnesota Fringe is one of many fringe festivals across the nation and around the world. Check the rest of 'em out here.

The mission of the Minnesota Fringe is to promote freedom and diversity of artistic expression by linking adventurous artists with adventurous audiences.



Shows start and end on time at the Fringe. With 880 performances of 169 shows in just 11 days, we're on a tight schedule. Shows are no more than 60 minutes long with a half hour between each show. On weekdays shows begin at 5:30pm, 7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm. On the weekends there are additional shows at 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm.

Late seating: There is NO LATE SEATING at Minnesota Fringe. Here's why. Beyond keeping the festival running on schedule, our primary reason for no late seating is safety.

Safety for people on stage: Some of our theaters require that patrons walk across parts of the stage to reach the seating area, and many of our production companies’ stage work encompasses entrances and exits from the house.

Safety for our patrons: Entering a darkened theater (and possibly the first time a patron has been in a particular space) and trying to find open seats is not only dangerous for the late patron but also for our volunteers and any seated patrons as well.

Fringe Central

Fringe Central, sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by Republic, serves as the late-night watering hole for artists, staff, volunteers and audience members alike. Come in after a day full of shows to grab a beer (or two) and talk. Talk about what you loved. Talk about what you didn’t. Meet the artists behind the shows and find out what you should see tomorrow. You never know what will happen at the Fringe, but dropping by Central gives you a serious head start.


What to Wear

Shorts and a t-shirt. Seriously. Also, a pair of comfy shoes will serve you well in case you have to wait in line. Pro tip: Most Fringe shows take place indoors in air-conditioned venues, so having a layer to throw on in case you get chilly is also advisable.


Choosing a Show

With 169 shows to choose from, it's scandalous to see just one. But how to choose your perfect lineup?

Search by genre: You can filter for genres when you're trying to decide what to see.

Talk to people: It only sounds scary. Just look for the folks in lanyards. Pro tip: Lanyards indicate Fringe artists - they'll be glad to tell you about their show.

Read and write reviews: See what audiences are raving about on our audience review page, then return the favor and let others know what you thought.

Get Involved

Fringe isn't just a festival - it's a community, and it couldn't exist without people like you.

Volunteer: Our 400+ volunteers are near and dear to our hearts and make our festival go, so we shower them with lots of love and complimentary seats! Sign up for a shift now!

Be social: Join us any night of the festival at our official hangout, Fringe Central sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by Republic, for a beer, a burger and maybe even some late-night shenanigans.

Create your own show: Applications for the 2017 festival will go live mid-November on this website. The Fringe is open to everyone, all shows are selected by lottery, and you don't even need to have a show ready when you apply.

Box Office Info

Reservations are optional and may be bought in advance through the Fringe website. Advance sales stop at 1 pm on weekdays and 10 am on weekends. A reservation guarantees you a seat for the show. You must also be wearing a day pass wristband to get in. Day pass wristbands can be purchased at any Fringe venue 30 minutes prior to show time, as well as online with a reservation.

Purchases made in advance allow you to bypass the venue box office completely. Check in with a Fringe volunteer at the house door to pick up your reservation starting 30 minutes before show time. Once reservations are purchased, they are guaranteed and will NOT be resold.

Payment methods: Fringe accepts cash, all major credit cards and checks made out to "Minnesota Fringe Festival."

Kids at Fringe: There is a recommended minimum age for each (see individual show pages on our website). It is up to the parent/guardian to make the final decision; Fringe makes no guarantees about content.

Day pass wristbands: ALL patrons must have a wristband to see a show. Your wristband serves as your pass to any show in the festival on a given day. Wristbands are $16 on weekdays; $22 on weekends.

Wristbands for kids 12 and under will be available in the venues during the festival for $5 every day.

Late seating: Nope.

Refunds: Nuh uh.

In general

Q. What is Fringe?
A. Minnesota Fringe is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect adventurous artists with adventurous audiences. The biggest way we do this is by organizing the Minnesota Fringe Festival, an annual eleven-day performing arts extravaganza. In 2015, we issued 50,338 tickets to over 900 performances over 11 days. Fringe shows are 60 minutes or less and there's a 30-minute break between each show.

Q. When is Fringe?
A. Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August 14, 2016. Give or take, Fringe is always the first two weekends (and the sandwiched weekdays) of August each year.

Q. Where is Fringe?
A. We're based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Many of our venues are in Minneapolis' Uptown, West Bank and downtown neighborhoods. Our venues are in clusters to make traveling to multiple shows easy.

Q. How long has Minnesota Fringe been around?
A. Since 1993. We're celebrating our 23rd anniversary in 2016.

Q. How were previous years' festivals?
A. Awesome! Check out our tax documents and annual reports on our donation page to find out more.

The artists

Q. How are Fringe shows selected?
A. By random luck of the draw! Fringe is unique in the local performing arts scene because our lineup is unjuried: there is no selection panel that decides who deserves to perform, so anyone can do it. Applicants are selected by lottery. If an application wins the lottery, they have a guaranteed spot in the festival. If they don't win the lottery, they're placed on a waiting list. If someone drops out of the festival, we offer the slot to the first applicant on the waiting list.

Applications will be available on our website in mid-November, the application deadline will be in late January, and we'll do the lottery in February.

Q. Why a lottery?
A. Until 2003, Minnesota Fringe was first-come-first-served: whoever turned their application in first was given a spot in the festival. But on the first day we accepted applications in 2004, we received more applications than we had performance slots. Hence the lottery - it's fair, fun and transparent.

Q. How much does it cost artists to be in the Fringe?
A. There's a $25 nonrefundable application fee and, if an application is drawn to be in the festival, the producing fee ranges from $250 to $450, depending on the size of the theater. Producers are responsible for all artistic costs of their show - actor stipends, director fees, costume and set materials, royalties, etc.

Q. What do artists get in exchange?
A. The production fee covers venue rent for five performances, technical and box office staff, a listing in the printed program, a customizable show page on our website, lots of producing training and at least 70 percent of the box office receipts.

The festival

Q. How are venues assigned?
A. Each participant is asked about the sort of space they need (stage size, seating configuration, etc.) and we do our best to get each producer into a venue that will suit their show. We can't accommodate everything and everyone, but that doesn't stop us from trying.

Q. How are shows scheduled?
A. Participating artists are expected to be available to perform throughout the entire 11-day festival. We look at attendance data from previous years to see which performance times are historically the most and least attended. The schedule is then divided into five tiers from best to worst and each show is assigned one time slot in each tier.

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