A Beginner’s Guide To The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival And Philly Fringe, Returning September 7-22 With Almost 700 Theater, Dance, Music, Comedy And Spoken Word Performances

Each September since 1997, Philadelphia has played host to the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, an epic fusion of performing arts productions staged at all stripes of venues, from bars to art galleries to street corners to abandoned warehouses.

Live Arts/Fringe is a very important arts event for the Philadelphia cultural community. And many people may have misconceptions about the festival, be intimidated by the massive quantity of performances on the schedule, or feel like there’s nothing that appeals to them for spending a fall evening.

That’s where we come in. Uwishunu’s Beginner’s Guide to the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe helps break down the difference between Live Arts and Philly Fringe, answer your questions about where and how to get tickets, disabuse you of the notion that all the Fringe is about is nude theater, and everything in between.

Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Live Arts/Fringe, below, and let us know in the comments if there’s anything we didn’t answer.


Influenced by Edinburgh, the granddaddy of all Fringe Festivals, five Philadelphia artists banded together in 1997 to create an outlet for other contemporary and experimental performers to present their works. What began as a five-day event has grown into more than two weeks of high-quality, highly innovative artistic presentations.

Live Arts Festival vs. Philly Fringe

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe together bring the world’s newest and most cutting-edge cultural experiences to Philadelphia.

The Live Arts component of the festival is a curated festival of the highest quality, most unique performing arts groups from across the globe, specifically sought out and invited by the Festival’s Producing Director Nick Stuccio. This is a really big deal; the Live Arts Festival is often the only opportunity the region’s audiences will have to see these works without traveling internationally. In 2012, approximately 14 Live Arts shows will be presented.

The Philly Fringe, the second part of the Live Arts/Fringe extravaganza, is an unfiltered festival, where a platform is provided for new and established artists to present their work free of a selection process. It’s a free-for-all, once-a-year, or even once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for up-and-comers to showcase their work. The schedule includes literally hundreds of Fringe shows, all self-produced by thousands of artists throughout the region.

Choosing between the hundreds of shows

For starters, check out our Fringe Festival roundups:

Top Picks For Participatory Shows In Which The Audience Makes The Performance

Top Picks For Performances At Unusual Sites, From A Pub To A Yoga Studio To A Museum Gallery To A Skate Park

More to come. You can also use the Live Arts/Fringe interactive online guide, which lets you sort by date, time, discipline (are you a dance fan?), audience (bringing your kids?) and neighborhood (want to enjoy a night in a different part of the city?).

But it’s also important to keep an open mind, and know that every single piece of work performed over the course of the two weeks is high-quality, special and created by Philadelphians, for Philadelphians.

Keep reading, below.

Fact vs. Fiction

I have to be a theater fan to go to the Fringe Festival. FALSE. The Live Arts/Fringe Festival features all genres of performing arts, including comedy shows (are you a stand-up fan?), dance, visual art, even film screenings. It’s not just about straight-up stage theater.

Live Arts/Fringe is helping establish Philadelphia as a major player on the international arts scene. TRUE. Part of why Live Arts/Fringe is so awesome is that it is seriously amping up Philly’s cred as a theater and arts destination. You want to be a part of the conversation.

I’m all for celebrating culture in Philadelphia, but I’ll have to shell out for tickets. FALSE. There’s a huge handful of totally free events, and they’re listed for you right here.

Festival App

Perfect for Fringe beginners, the brand new Festival App uses Shindig’s software to let you get the latest schedule updates, artist information, purchase tickets and much more. And it’s 100% free.


You can get tickets online through TicketLeap to any Fringe show. And they’re also available at the Festival Box Office on 919 N. 5th Street, with free onsite parking.

Browse through and get tickets to the 2012 shows right here. Tickets range from free to $55.

Insider tip: student/25-and-under tickets are $15 for Live Arts Festival tickets and $5 off if the Fringe ticket price is $15 or over. Groups of 10+ save 25%.

Want to see every single show? That is, as many of the 200+ shows as you can manage? The All Access Pass makes the Festival easy by granting admission to every Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe show and 20% off up to 3 additional tickets per performance. Get your All Access Pass online.

2012 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe
When: September 7-22
Where: Locations vary
Cost: Varies
More info: www.livearts-fringe.org


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