What’s a fringe?


The Canadian Fringe Theatre Festival is one of the fastest growing theatre phenomenon in North America. Based loosely on the Edinburgh Fringe theatre festival, the Canadian Fringe Theatre Festival phenomenon started in Edmonton in 1982. The purpose was to foster a way to showcase unjuried and unjudged performances by any artist that had a desire to be on stage.

Edmonton’s festival caught on, leading to festivals in Winnipeg, Toronto, Victoria and more. These festivals were so successful that they attracted local and international artists from as far away as Australia, Japan and the U.K. The U.S.A. saw the success and San Francisco created one of the first American fringe festivals in 1983.

Now almost every major city in North America has a fringe festival of some variety, each attracting a plethora of artists, volunteers and audiences from around the world, making the Fringe Festival one of Canada’s most unique contributions to the global performance arts-community.

After almost 30 years of North American Fringes, there are now dozens of Fringe Festivals across Canada and the US. If you’d like to know more about how these festivals are connected and to find other major fringe festivals, check out the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF), an organization that assists in ensuring fringes continue to be a growing and celebrated phenomenon.


International and local theatre companies that will participate in Nanaimo Fringe Festival are selected by lottery, ensuring local and international performers a fair chance to be selected for the stage. Each lottery selected company gets 6 performances during the festival, an outfitted and staffed venue, a listing in our festival program and much more!

The 7th annual Nanaimo Fringe Festival will run August 10 – 20, 2017. 8 companies will be performing in front of a live audience who may love, hate, become transfixed or even startled. Our festival is perfect for developing, emerging and experimenting artists.

Did we mention we deliver 100% of the base ticket price to the participating theatre company?

By donating 100% of the ticket revenues back to the performers, we encourage artists’ exposure, provide a space for local artists to develop their talents and offer the opportunity to build bridges with international performers. You might wonder how we can afford to do what we do…

One of the reasons Fringes have been successful across Canada is because of an incredible group of people that are willing to donate their time, energy and assistance to seeing these events happen. You may know them as Volunteers, but we consider them family and give them special benefits and thank-yous for all their help.

Our history

Our festival began in 2011.  Back then it was called Fringetastic Theatre Festival.  The name was coined by co-founder Jer Banks, also the title of a series of video interviews Jer did while travelling across Canada working at Fringe Festivals.