The 18th annual Ottawa Fringe Festival, widely known as the nation’s capital’s largest theatre event of the year, will debut on Thursday June 19th with almost 400 performances during its ten-day run. But first the kick-off begins on June 18th at the Downtown Rideau Stage near the Arts Court. Should you walk into the area, you’ll feel the pull of the Fringe Courtyard in Waller Park, which will be open as early as 4pm tomorrow for the christening of the peripheral party.

(Let it be known that this autumn the Arts Court will be undergoing a major reno involving a new building to be erected where Waller Park now lies. Consider yourself warned that this might be the last time you can drink St-Ambroise legally on this turf…)

Every year the Fringe Festival has offered free concerts for all patrons, volunteers & rubberneckers who find their way past Waller Park in the evenings. Tomorrow, local acts Stillnative & 2React will open the festivities with their respective raw beat rock & hip hop jazz dub for all present. They are the starting gun bullets for this year’s sick line-up of free shows that include ’30s gypsy jazz Django Libre, juke jazz Adam Saikaley 5tet, a night of folk pop with Halifax-née, Windsor-based Crissi Cochrane & Ottawa’s Three Little Birds, indie pop from HIGHS & dance synth-pop from Silkken Laumann. On top of this every Thursday, Friday & Saturday night there will be Fringe Late Night, a midnight late night show hosted by comedian Deborah Ring and accompanied by the Jeff Kingsbury Trio (spoiler: this is approximately Pony Girl minus the vocalists).

Check out the full free programming schedule here!

What’s better than free live music in Downtown Ottawa? When it’s right smack in the middle of dozens of theatre groups & performers who are chomping at the bit to execute their drama & comedy for us. If only we had time to see them all… We raise our glasses to all present anyway, and to the end of Spring, and to the hot mess that is Ottawa Festival Season. Now let’s live on the edge a little bit — happy fringing to all and to all a good Fringe!

Fringe Fest