Family Friendly Fringeing at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

FringeThe wonderful thing about The Edmonton Fringe  Festival is you never really know what you’re going to get. I have seen hilarious, shocking, heartbreaking, and beautiful things on stage. Two of my more memorable experiences at Fringe plays involve a robot from the future with a shockingly vile vocabulary (like words I didn’t learn until I was in my twenties), and full frontal nudity in a very small venue. I literally could have reached out and touched her. Vive la Fringe! If you haven’t been to the madness that is the Fringe, or if you haven’t brought kids before, you might not realize that it can be a very family friendly affair. It’s not all midnight shows and beer gardens! Here are our top 5 things to do with kids for Family Friendly Fringeing at the Edmonton Fringe Festival!

The playbills posted around the festival grounds are another great place to see what plays are on offer! photo credit: Anna Kuranicheva

The Play’s the Thing! We’re all for experimental theatre, but sometimes one must think of the children! To this end, look in the program for plays billing themselves as “Family Friendly” which, as you might guess from the name, are suitable for family viewing, or “KidsFringe Approved” that are plays specifically geared to an audience under the age of twelve. Everyone requires a ticket for each show, including kids and babes in arms. Get the Fringe Program guide for play synopses and show times. You can purchase the guide on site, but I like to get mine ahead of time so I can make notes in it. Pick it up from the ATB Financial Arts Barns, greater Edmonton Safeway, Sobeys, Chapters, Indigo, and Coles locations, as well Tix on the Square and Audreys Books, or order it online and they will mail it to you!

KidsFringe KidsFringe will return to its 2018 location at the Strathcona Community League, 10139 – 87 Avenue. It’s an ideal space for this event, and includes a dedicated theatre venue just for kids’ shows, as well more space for a wide variety of kid friendly activities, like the tots tent, book nook, face painting and crafting area.  As well, throughout the day there are short plays and performances, and organized games (well as organized as these things get!) to get in on. Adults aren’t allowed in without a kid, so it is a nice family-friendly space. For more info see: Free Fringe Fun at Edmonton Fringe Festival KidsFringe.

Whether you are a family with kids or just your average, every day zombie, there’s something for you at Fringe! photo credit: Marc J Chalifoux Photography

Street Eats After all the playing, you’ll want to grab a bite to eat! In addition to all the great Old Strathcona restaurants that are staples throughout the year, Fringe brings out some amazing food trucks and mobile eateries. It would be very sad to miss the mini-doughnuts and green onion cakes, but your kid might be feeling a bit adventurous in the vibrant festival. Past favourites in our family have included Indian food, taco in a bag and Korean tacos. Some of the food trucks have a debit/credit machine, but some only take cash, so visit the ATM beforehand!

Market Stalls Sticking with the “you won’t find this anywhere else” theme of the festival, you and your kids can have some fun poking around the vendors that dot the festival grounds. Unique jewellery and gifts, menhdi and henna tattoos, tarot card readers, handmade crafts and clothing designed by local artisans are all part of the treasures you can find. Also keeping with the “but not everything’s for kids” theme was a t-shirt stall that had a few slogans emblazoned that I would deem NSFW (not suitable for work). Explaining why I wasn’t buying a t-shirt with “Take Care of your *line drawing of a cat*” for my 7 year old wasn’t something I need to repeat.

Death defying tricks on the main stage in Dr Wilbert McIntyre Park. Can you say “Don’t try this at home!” photo credit: Marc J Chalifoux Photography

Busking Galore The wild wonder continues on the streets and on the main stage in Wilbert McIntyre Park. Performers from around the world travel to our Fringe Festival (after the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, it’s the largest one in the world.) There are some musicians and magicians, and lots of feats of daring that have me clutching my pearls and forcing promises from my boys to never, never, never try to do that at home.  Again, once the evening hits, things take a turn for the more adult, do you may want to keep it to the daytime hours. Near the main stage you will find a schedule of performances, sometimes they will indicate if it is an all ages or adult show. You’ll want to take heed! Also remember that the street performers don’t get paid by the Fringe and rely on “passing the hat” for their paycheque. So make sure you have some money in your pocket to pay for the show!

The Edmonton Fringe Festival is one of the back bone festivals of the year. It is full of fantastic and fantastical things, and you are really missing out if you don’t go. Read through our tips, pack some cash, and enjoy the heck out of it!

Edmonton Fringe Festival 2019:

When: August 15 – 25, 20189
Where: Old Strathcona

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