Whether it's your first Fringe or your 30th, you'll want to review our updated guide to getting the most out of the festival. Check out show details, festival policies and venue maps at orlandofringe.org/may2021, where you can also buy tickets, and keep an eye on Orlando Weekly's show reviews at orlandoweekly.com.
Apps and links
The official Orlando Fringe smartphone app is defunct, but you can find the daily down-low at orlandofringe.org/may/daily-schedule. You'll want a QR code reader handy for scanning the digital programs that have replaced dead trees this year, and for tipping the artists.
Bars and restaurants
Food stalls on the Fringe Lawn include everything from carnival-style fast food to high-end treats, along with the ubiquitous beer tent and a City Beverage–sponsored full liquor bar, this year featuring Red Bull. There are also ample opportunities to stop for a drink or a bite to eat along Orange and Mills avenues and Virginia Drive.
Go first, because there's no re-entry if you leave a show. The ones inside the Lowndes Shakespeare Center and the Orlando Repertory Theatre are the best; avoid the portables on the lawn unless you are desperate.
There are two (one in the Lowndes, one in the Rep) where you can buy tickets in person, but you're better off buying online in advance; BYOV tickets must be purchased online. Tickets cost up to $12, and no matter where you buy, you'll pay a $1.25 service fee per seat.
The $10 button is a one-time purchase that funds Fringe's operations — ticket sales (minus the service fee) go directly to the shows themselves. Buttons can be purchased with cash only at any venue, or by credit card (with service fee) at a festival box office. Without a button and a ticket, there's no admittance to any show, so don't lose it.
Social distancing measures means that seating has been reduced by 50 percent in the Fringe venues; secure your tickets early because popular shows are sure to sell out, and all sales end five minutes prior to showtime.
Cash or credit
The on-site ATM tacks on fees and gets cleaned out fast on weekends, but you can swipe your card (or tap your phone) to pay for drinks and merchandise.
Join Club Fringe with a minimum donation of $25 to access the air-conditioned private lounge inside OMA, featuring free refreshments, phone chargers and other perks; visit orlandofringe.org/clubfringe for details.
Fringe shows have the option of offering $2 off to students, seniors, military and/or theme park employees. The only catch is that you must buy your tickets in person at a box office to get those savings.
Masks are still required indoors for all Fringe patrons and performers (vaccinated or otherwise). Vaccinated performers may remove masks while performing. You can take them off when eating or drinking outside.
Between the Shakes and the Rep lies a broad grassy swath where you'll find the beer and wine tent, food vendors, an ATM, and a Beer & Booze Tent (now offering table service), not to mention a seething mass of theatrical humanity. The lawn opens at 5 p.m. on weekdays (noon on weekends) and closes at 1 a.m. nightly.
The hippest kids in town attend Kids Fringe inside the air-conditioned Orlando Garden Club, which is packed on both weekends (Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) with free outdoor entertainment — puppetry, concerts, hands-on art activities and a Fringezilla birthday scavenger hunt — that parents will enjoy too. Capacity for indoor shows is limited; free tickets are distributed 15 minutes prior to each performance. Follow @kidsfringe on Instagram and Facebook for updates.
Even if you've paid for a ticket, once the doors close, you're not getting in. Arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime and leave plenty of time to park and walk to the venue; it may be on the opposite end of the complex.
It's always free to hang out on the lawn, where there's food, drink and local bands playing throughout the festival. New this year is a second "Play What You Can" stage in the Shakes courtyard with more free shows.
Limited as always, with the Orlando Rep and Lowndes Shakespeare Center lots sure to be filled to capacity at all times. Magruder Eye Institute is open for Fringe patrons on nights and weekends only; limited free street parking can be found along Mills Avenue and Princeton Street. (Parking in AdventHealth's Alden Street garage is also gratis, but don't tell them Fringe sent you.)
To make Fringe more accessible to hearing impaired patrons, ASL interpreters from Signing Shadows will be present at more than a dozen selected performances; see orlandofringe.org/may/accessibility for details.
Follow the festival at facebook.com/orlandofringefestival, on Instagram (@orlandofringe) and on Twitter (@OrlandoFringe and the hashtag #OFringe30) for late-breaking announcements and info.
Each venue at the Fringe has a color-coded name. Orange, Yellow, Pink, Brown, Blue and Red are all inside the Lowndes Shakespeare Center; Green and Silver are at the Orlando Repertory Theatre; and Gold is at the Orlando Museum of Art. BYOV shows are held at Häos on Church Street, the Abbey on South Eola Drive and other site-specific locations. Make sure you leave enough time between shows if your venues are far apart.
Fringe's art market has moved online this year, but 100 percent of the purchase price of any artwork still goes directly to the artist.
Don't forget: hat, sunscreen, umbrella. It will be hot and it will rain. But who cares? You'll be ready for anything.