Checking in with Downtown

Part 12: The Return of the Hamilton Fringe Festival | June 26, 2024

Mark your calendars, the Hamilton Fringe Festival is returning for 2024! This Hamilton staple is guaranteed to bring excitement and artistic talent to the city each year, and 2024 is made even more special because the festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary. This year the Hamilton Fringe Festival runs from July 17 to 28.

The world’s very first Fringe Festival took place in Edinburgh in 1947, which then became the inspiration for Canada’s first Fringe Festival, the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 1982. The success of Edmonton’s Fringe Festival led to the idea being adopted across Canada and the United States, and the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals’ membership now includes 34 festivals across the country. While specific details may change, Fringe Festivals across the world are consistently dedicated to cultivating and fostering independent artistic exploration for both artists and audiences.

Attendees at this year’s Hamilton Fringe Festival can enjoy over 350 performances across the city, from over 50 talented companies. The lineup for 2024 is diverse and wide-ranging to ensure that everyone can find something that they like, and includes sketch comedy, improv, theatre, dance, puppetry, magic, musicals, and more.  Shows return to classic venues like Mills Hardware, Theatre Aquarius and Player’s Guild, and this year features a full venue partnership with The Westdale. The Staircase is back as an Indie Venue hub with 10 shows, while Hamilton Theatre Inc. will host 2 shows and the Mini Bar Series will bring 4 short plays to Ringside. Additionally, the Fringe Club Outdoor Stage & Patio is back outside Theatre Aquarius as the perfect venue to celebrate the Fringe nights in style. If you have any questions about the festival, the Fringe Info Hub has a new home in Jackson Square! They are located beside the entrance at MacNab and King Street, and are open from 3 – 9 pm during weekdays, Saturdays from 12 to 9 pm, and Sundays from 12 to 8 pm.

2024 features an exciting new addition to the Hamilton Fringe Festival: Fringe on the Streets! This is a free walking tour that allows you to experience the city in a unique way, featuring performances along the King to James Street corridor. Make sure that you check out this new addition, as it is sure to transform the downtown core and leave you feeling excited and inspired!

While all of the offerings at this year’s Hamilton Fringe Festival are exciting, sometimes the truly impressive number of events means that the schedule and specific shows that you want to see may be hard to keep track of. Thankfully the Hamilton Fringe Festival program is here to help, filled with all the information about the festival and its full lineup that you could ever need. You can flip through a digital copy of the program here, or pick up a physical copy at a variety of venues around the city, including Redchurch Café + Gallery (68 King Street East), RELAY Coffee Roasters (27 King William Street), and Tourism Hamilton (28 James Street North). You can find a list of festival program pick-up locations here.  

All Fringe patrons age 12+ (including passholders) must make a one-time purchase of a Fringe Benefits Button for $4 to access all ticketed indoor events. Make sure that you keep a hold of that button during the entirety of the festival, as you cannot get into a show without it. This one-time cost gives you access to all festival events, in addition to great discounts and perks at various locations throughout the city. After that, single tickets are $14 ($5 for children). Advanced tickets can be purchased online right until show time, and tickets are also available at the door beginning 45 minutes prior to show time. While you can purchase tickets for a specific show, there are also multi-show passes that allow you to save money if you plan to explore multiple shows throughout the festival’s run.

In addition to the Hamilton Fringe Festival, Hamilton Festival Theatre Co also produces a variety of annual activities that you are also sure to enjoy, including year-round Artist Development programming (ALERT, Theatre PD Day, SPARK, Kids Club Camp), a community-embedded winter festival (Frost Bites) and more. Make sure that you follow them throughout the year for updates on their incredible programming!  

Regardless of what you are looking to see, the Hamilton Fringe Festival has something for everyone. Over the 12 days that the festival runs, Hamilton will be transformed into a celebration of arts, culture, and artistic talent. Stop at one of the events and be transported! You can find more information about the Hamilton Fringe Festival and purchase tickets here. You can also follow HFTCo on FacebookInstagram, and X to learn more about their variety of incredible and valuable programming.

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The Downtown Update is the e-newsletter sent by the Downtown Hamilton Business Improvement Area to keep both members of the BIA and interested supporters of Downtown up-to-date with activities and issues in the core of our community.