We've updated our annual A-to-Z (all right, W) guide to getting the most out of the festival. Check out show details, festival policies and venue maps at orlandofringe.org, where you can also buy tickets, and keep an eye on Orlando Weekly's show reviews at orlandoweekly.com/fringe2018.
Download the official Orlando Fringe app, or log into orlandofringe.org on your mobile browser. Either way, you can search the show schedule and purchase tickets that can be stored and scanned straight from your digital wallet, with no need to print on dead trees.
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 full liquor bar. Beer and wine can also be bought in the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Shakes rear courtyard and the Black Venue (aka the Venue on Virginia Drive). 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 in the Shakespeare Center and the Orlando Rep are the best; avoid the portables on the lawn unless you are desperate.
There are three (Shakes, Rep and the Venue on Virginia) where you can buy tickets in person, or you can buy tickets online. Tickets cost up to $12, and no matter where you purchase 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 at any venue, or by credit card (with service fee) at a festival box office. Without a button and a ticket, no one over the age of 12 will be admitted to any show, so don't lose it.
Bring it. The on-site ATM tacks on fees and gets cleaned out fast on weekends.
It's always free to hang out on the lawn, where there's food, drink and local bands playing throughout the festival. (See our schedule of music performances on page 19.)
Loch Haven is notoriously awful for cellular coverage (level of badness depends on your carrier). Instead of counting on your phone, pick up one of the printed Fringe guides available throughout the festival, just to be safe.
Join Club Fringe with a minimum donation of $250 and you get access to an exclusive air-conditioned lounge inside OMA, featuring a private bar.
Fringe's discounted 10-packs of tickets sold out before the Festival (as usual), but some shows offer $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 the savings.
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 new Fringe-run Booze Tent (with happy hour specials from 5-6 p.m. on weekdays), not to mention a seething mass of theatrical humanity. The lawn opens at noon on weekends, and closes at 1 a.m. nightly.
Does trying to fit all the shows you want to see into your calendar make you feel frantic? The Fringe-O-Matic (fringeo matic.com) will accept your wish list and availability to output your optimal festival itinerary.
Help! What should I see?
Use Orlando Weekly's reviews to plan your viewing – our critics are risking life and limb to see as many shows as possible. Find all reviews at orlandoweekly.com/fringe2018.
The hippest kids in town attend Kids Fringe, which has a new air-conditioned home inside the Orlando Garden Club, which is tucked behind the Shakes. On both weekends of the festival, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. are packed with free entertainment – puppetry, concerts, hands-on art activities – that parents will enjoy too.
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.
The free outdoor stage offers lots of live local music, plus dance-offs, comedy, yoga and a poetry smackdown. Don't miss the return of Beth McKee's Swamp Sistas La La, Jambando, Southern Fried Sunday and Luau on the Lawn. (Turn the page to learn more about this year's Lawn Stage offerings.)
Limited as always, with the Rep and Shakes lots sure to be filled to capacity at all times. Florida Hospital's garage is free on Friday nights and Saturdays ($4 maximum at other times), and Magruder Eye Institute and Florida Urology Associates are open for Fringe Patrons (weekends only); see the map on Fringe's website or in the printed guide for details. Consider renting Juice Bikes (stationed between Shakes and OMA) as an eco-friendly alternative.
Follow the festival at facebook.com/orlandofringefestival, on Instagram (@orlandofringe), and on Twitter (@OrlandoFringe) for late-breaking announcements and info. #OFringe27
Once again, Orlando Fringe invited festival-winning one-act shows from local high school drama troupes to perform at the Orlando Rep on May 26 and 27. The teen thespians also get to take free workshops and compete for scholarships and the Patron's Pick award. Teen shows cost just $5 each, and all proceeds support the schools' theater programs.
Each venue at the Fringe has a color-coded name. Orange, Yellow, Pink, Brown, Blue, Red and Purple are all inside Orlando Shakes; Green, Silver and the Teen Showcase are at the Orlando Rep; and Gold is at OMA. Black is at the Venue on Virginia Drive, and BYOV shows are held at Breakthrough Theatre, Savoy and additional nearby locations. Make sure you leave enough time between shows if your venues are far apart (if you're not sure, check the map).
Fringe's art market is hosted in the hallways of Orlando Shakes, with additional works at the Rep. Like the show tickets, 100 percent of the purchase price of any artwork 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 prepared.