For 19 years, The Fringe: Toronto’s Theatre Festival has been storming stages with unexpected and unforgettable shows.

This summer, the festival, running from July 2 – 13, is getting ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary marking this as its biggest year yet.

Executive director Gideon Arthurs says the Fringe Festival will be hosting 148 companies at 29 venues across the city. In 1989, the city’s first Fringe worked with four venues to offer 40 productions. Today, it has established itself not only as Toronto’s biggest theatre festival, but has become the third largest Fringe in Canada. “Starting up our 20th anniversary is pretty exciting ... so it’s a pretty big enterprise,” says Arthurs. “Last year there was a 21 per cent increase in people attending the festival.”

Working with more than 800 local and international artists, this year’s festival is expecting an attendance of more than 57,000. As always, the Fringe operates as a non-profit organization, ensuring that each year 100 per cent of ticketed box office earnings are returned to Fringe performers and participants.

The festival’s programming this year will bring a solid mix of eager newcomers and veteran Fringe artists.

“It’s really a democratic kind of event. We have 350 amazing volunteers ... who donate thousands of volunteer hours ... and our patrons seem to love the festival,” he says. “Eighty per cent of Fringe patrons come back after they come for the first time, and that means that they also bring a friend. They’re the biggest thing that keep the Fringe going, the people who come back year after year.”

The Fringe normally features just theatre productions, but after making an outreach to the dance community, the festival will now be incorporating dance productions as well. For the first time, the Dance Initiative will showcase nine dance companies drawn by lottery.

“And then on top of that we have special programming at our Fringe club to celebrate the 20th. We’re doing different programming every night, we have a couple of hot bands, some comedians and that kind of stuff,” says Arthurs. “So there’s a lot to look forward to for sure.”

Tickets are a maximum of $10, except for kids shows, which are $5. For more information, visit

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