Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Pennsylvania icon-chevron-right Philadelphia icon-chevron-right 13 shows you need to see at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival

Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.

fringe festival
Photograph: Maria Baranova

13 shows you need to see at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival

Find out everything you need to know for the upcoming Philadelphia Fringe Festival, including these must-see performances

By Josh Middleton and David Fox

The Philadelphia Fringe Festival is back for 2017, with more than 100 shows taking place in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. Here, we narrow down some of the best and most-buzzed-about shows at this year’s festival, but first a few facts:

What is the Philadelphia Fringe Festival?

Produced by FringeArts, the 21st annual theater, dance and arts festival is a showcase of both cutting-edge national theatrical productions and local theater troupes with new and exciting works to share. FringeArts curates a handful of presentations on their own, and then there are the independently produced, Philly-based works that could be anything from a puppet show in a South Philly basement to a fully staged production at a major Philadelphia attraction. There’s even a Digital Fringe, which features shows playing out online. Crazy, right? In a nutshell, there’s a TON going on, which is why we’re giving you this quick and snappy guide to some of the shows we think are unmissable.

When is the Philadelphia Fringe Festival?

The Fringe Festival takes place over the course of an 18-day span—from September 7 to 24.

How do I get tickets to the Fringe Festival?

FringeArts maintains an easy-to-navigate website with information about every single show and ticket links so you can make your purchases in advance—which is recommended if you want to see some of the larger productions. You can find that site here.

Anything else I should know about the Fringe Festival?

Yes. Check out the Festival Bar located at La Peg and the Haas Biergarten at the FringeArts building. There you’ll find eight free, late-night performances—from live music to burlesque and cabaret—throughout the run of the festival and a healthy selection of beer, wine and cocktails. 

If you’re looking to make a night out of your Fringe experience, book a table at one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia or sidle up to a bar before the show for happy hour. Philadelphia certainly has no short of pre- and post-show entertainment. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Fringe Festival shows to see

fringe festival
Photograph: Courtesy Rosas

11. A Love Supreme

Dance Contemporary and experimental

John Coltrane, who lived in Philadelphia in the 1940s and ’50s, is the subject of this latest work by dance company Rosas. Four dancers perform both improvised and composed movements to the jazz innovator’s 1965 album that’s an “ode to divine love,” A Love Supreme. Sit back and see how the cast interprets the seminal work, which begins with a simple tenor saxophone riff before eventually reaching crescendo in a cacophony of piano, bass, drums and more of Trane’s sweet, sweet sax.

fringe festival
Photograph: Maria Baranova

12. A Period of Animate Existence

Theater Musicals

Pig Iron Theatre Company pulls off its largest production to date; a marriage of original music, sweeping set design and theater. The five-movement work features a cast of no fewer than 80 people of all ages, colors and walks of life who contemplate their existence in a time when climate change threatens to wipe them off the earth. It sounds terrifying, yes, but the coming together of so many individuals who realize they have more in common than not promises to leave you all goose-pimply and inspired. Bring a tissue.

Photograph: Courtesy FringeArts

13. FEASTival

Things to do

Hosted by the powerhouse culinary team of Nicholas Elmi, Stephen Starr, Michael Solomonov and Audrey Claire Taichman, this annual formal fete invites Philadelphia’s top chefs to dish out small bites and mingle with guests. Eateries taking part in this year’s event include a host of our picks for the best restaurants in Philadelphia, such as High Street on Market, Double Knot, Fork, Hungry Pigeon, Zahav and more. The dinner serves as a fundraiser for FringeArts, so expect to see an array of acrobatic performances and artistic displays.

In the mood for tunes?


    You may also like