Fringe-ing in Ottawa

Last year’s train trip (the Canada portion was from Vancouver to Ottawa) had me stopping in Winnipeg for a handful of days in late July. It was my first visit to this city in the Prairies – also the middle of Canada – and luck would have it that I dropped by right in the middle of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. You may think that this Fringe Fest is small but it actually held the North American record for tickets sold for a few years until another city outsold them in 2011. Pretty impressive!

I was a Fringe virgin but, lucky me, I had a fabulous Frequent Fringer and devoted volunteer acting as my Fringe guide. She took me to see a variety of shows (comedy, drama, musical, improve, opera) and exposed me to Fringe Central downtown, including free shows on the mainstage. The weather was beautiful, the arts were creative, and I walked away with nothing but fond memories.

How do you walk away from such an experience without wanting to be drawn back into it this year! Lo and behold, I’ll be volunteering at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, running in and around the Byward Market area from June 20-30, 2013…and hopefully checking out a number of shows as well. As with the Winnipeg Fringe, the Ottawa Fringe is unjuried so I would expect an eclectic mix of theatre with a range of quality (subjective, of course).

To attend the Ottawa Fringe, each person needs a $3 Fringe pin. The pin is to be worn at any show you are seeing, is purchased separately from a show ticket, and is a one-time $3 donation to the Fringe Festival itself. This allows all of the ticket sale money to go directly to the performing artists. With 50+ productions over 10 days, you’re bound to find something that piques your curiosity. There is also the Fringe Courtyard where you can hang out, buy some food (Stone Soup Foodworks food truck is the vendor), and enjoy some entertainment.

I’m the type of person who likes to buy tickets in advance. However, for the Ottawa Fringe, I am switching it up by buying my ticket at the door. Something like 50% of the tickets are held for door sales, with the other 50% allocated to advance sales, so I presume there’s a good chance of getting a ticket to a desired show at the door.

Check out the productions and come Fringe! And if you are in town on Canada Day, the Courtyard will remain open on July 1 with some free improv and entertainment!


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