ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — One of the region’s largest entertainment festivals returns to Rochester with two weeks of theatre, real-life magic and circus performances — the 2022 Rochester Fringe Fest is back.

It all kicks off Tuesday, hosted by local and nationally renowned artists across various venues in Rochester.

The festival is set to run for nearly two weeks, stretching from September 13 to 24.

“If nothing else, the pandemic definitely heightened our appreciation for live arts,” said Fringe Festival Board Chairman Mark Costello. “We are back in full force this year and it feels great.”

After moving online due to the COVID outbreak in 2020, the 10th annual Fringe Fest became among the first entertainment events to adopt a hybrid model last year. Despite a split between online and in-person shows, city venues hosted thousands of people and visitors alike.

This year’s festivities were planned ahead of January and focused to provide something new, according to organizers. New for this year is a live attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest juggling lesson to ever be held. The event is free with everyone encouraged to join.

Magic Rocks is also new for 2022. Organizers showcased the band’s unique sound, and skill, during the press conference Monday and said the group is one of many headliners.

“What an exciting day for us, for Monroe County,” Executive Bello said. “When you think about the diversity of acts, the presentations, the venues. We are talking about a creative economy, we are attracting hundreds of thousands to our community. That is an investment in our city and a display of what we do to the rest of the world. What I’ve noticed is that every festival and every art performance in Monroe County keeps getting better and better. It is a year of celebration, fringe fits in really well with our community. We were founded on innovation and creativity. We are looking forward to some big things this year from the Fringe.”

More than 30 different venues will play host to this year’s fringe festivities — the most compared to any other year.

Venues for 2022 Fringe Festival

  • Eastman School of Music: Hatch Recital Hall, Kilbourn Hall, and Miller Center
  • The Focus Theater
  • Geva Theatre Center: The Fielding Stage
  • Java’s
  • JCC Rochester: Hart Theatre and Dr. Dawn Lipson Canalside Stage
  • Joseph Avenue Arts and Cultural Alliance
  • La Marketa at the International Plaza
  • MuCCC – Multi-use Community Cultural Center
  • Rochester Music Hall of Fame
  • School of the Arts: Allen Main Stage Theatre, Black Box Theatre, Club SOTA, the Courtyard, Ensemble Theatre, and the Gymnasium
  • Salena’s Event Space
  • The Spirit Room: Bar Room and Conjure Box
  • The Theatre @ Innovation Square
  • Writers & Books

Headlining Shows & Artists

Fringe’s famous “Cristal Palace Spiegeltent” is coming back this year for the first time since 2019. Also making a return is Cirque du Fringe: Afterglow.

More than 500 different shows will take over city streets, with some of the highlights including:

The Flying Espanas – Flipping Metal Circus: Sept. 16 – 17 | 7:30 + 9:30 pm. | Parcel 5 | FREE

Experience the fifth generation of The Flying Españas in an adrenaline-pumping WORLD PREMIERE that fuses feats of daring with death-defying acrobatics and heavy metal. Be awed by the flying trapeze, hear the roar of the massive motorcycle highwire overhead.

C’est Pas Là, C’est Par Là: Sept. 16 – 17 | 8:30 p.m. | City Blue | FREE

Direct from France comes the U.S. premiere tour of C’est Pas Là, C’est Par Là (It’s Not Here, It’s Over Here) from groundbreaking, immersive artist Juhyung Lee. An experience that involves the community working together to unravel five kilometers of string.

Fringe Finale Weekend ft. BANDALOOP: Sept. 23 – 24 | 7:30 + 9:30 p.m. | MLK Park | FREE

BANDALOOP will use climbing technology to dance on the side of 21-story Five Star Plaza at 100 Chestnut Street as crowds watch from Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. The group was a massive hit at Fringe in 2012 and 2013, attracting tens of thousands.

Fringe Street Beat: Sept. 24 | 5-7:30 p.m. + 8-9:30 p.m. | Martin Luther King, Jr. Park | FREE

The annual all-styles dance and breakdancing competition will feature teams from all over the Northeast competing for a cash prize, with nationally known judges and DJ ha-MEEN.

For a complete list of performances coming to this year’s Fringe Festival, along with a schedule and dates for each show, visit the event’s dedicated website.

Organizers released tickets for each show Monday. For at-the-door tickets, head to the One Fringe Place Box Office, located on the corner of Main Street and Gibbs Street.

Free Kids Day

Annually celebrated and loved among local children, 2022 Kids Day will take place Saturday, September 24 in the Spiegelgarden. Attendees will have the opportunity to take part in the aforementioned attempt to break the record for the largest juggling lesson at The Strong National Museum of Play at 12 p.m.

New for this year, kiddos will have a chance to play in brand-new Dashboard Dramas VIII (four short plays in four parked cars) along with the debut of Bushwhacked British Bake Off: Game of Scones, an improvised take on The Great British Baking Show; and Bushwhacked Bridgerfun Ball(s), a Bridgerton spoof.

Returning Fringe favorites include:

  • Gospel Sunday, Fringe’s annual celebration of local gospel greats on Sunday, September 18 at 2 p.m., hosted by Rev. Dr. Rickey Harvey in the Spiegelgarden.
  • Pedestrian Drive-In, nightly films (with audio delivered via provided headphones), outdoors in the Spiegelgarden on the big screen.

Fringe festivals started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947, and spread globally. The Rochester Fringe Festival, in particular, is among 50 fringe festivals across the nation. The annual, free, outdoor spectacle has been called “The Rochester Model” by more than 200 fringe festivals worldwide.

According to festival staff, 2019 saw more than 650 performances with 100,000 attendees.

Full Prologue Press Conference

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.