Fringe festivals

Did you know that than 200 Fringe events are held worldwide? Not me! The only one that I am aware of is Edinburgh Festival Fringe -touted as the world’s largest arts festival with a lot of creative buzz, spontaneity and vibrant energy around. It seems like Sharjah is bitten by the fringe bug and is aiming to take it to a new level. Sharjah Fringe is all set to take over Middle East between 16 January and 1 February 2020 with over 600 performances hosted at Shurooq destinations. Well, I am not surprised because while I was in Dubai, I was often impressed to learn about Sharjah’s attempt in becoming the cultural heartland of Middle East. Sharjah Fringe definitely seems to be in unison in emirate’s vision to embrace and encourage arts and creativity.

A couple of minutes back, I received an email in my inbox which said, “Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) presents the World’s Largest Arts and Entertainment Fringe Event” and it got me interested immediately. When it comes to art, I am always curious to know what lies for me. As I scanned through the details, it really got me excited, so much so that I wanted to share with everyone. It is always fun to travel for different reasons, especially, art, music, performances and festivals which are made up of all.

Art and culture in Sharjah, Logo

Adelaide Fringe (Australia), the Brighton Fringe (UK), the New
York Fringe (USA), and the National Arts Festival (South Africa) are some of the other popular fringe festivals.

Okay, so what is Fringe festival?

The Fringe is a world-renowned artistic movement taking place in over 200 locations worldwide gathering millions of people each year. Let us understand it better. The word “Fringe” means ‘outer edges of an area or group’, so a Fringe festival is an arts event where independent, experimental artists and performers are free to stage their own shows in open, public spaces, or anywhere. It is nowhere close to mainstream, center-stage or conventional. The concept of fringe celebrates diverse talents in unique ways. Many rules of the game are defied and so far, it has been appreciated for its experimental style and approach.  

It was quite interesting to learn that the first Fringe festival was organised in 1947 when 8 theater groups had turned up uninvited at Edinburgh International Festival. They were not really part of the official programme, but they were allowed to do their shows on the ‘fringe’, outer areas of the festival. Soon it became a rage. And this artistic style of showcasing talent caught the attention of different performers in different places. Hence, the idea of “fringe festivals” caught fire and there has been no stopping. Such festivals have been celebrating the best in theatre, dance, music and performance of all types. Sharjah Fringe aims to capture the same spirit and take it to next level.

What are the top five shows at Sharjah Fringe?
Don’t miss the Grumpy Pants at the Sharjah Fringe.

Highlights of Sharjah Fringe Festival

Amazing street performers & entertainers will be popping up in the city’s favorite leisure spaces.

More than 50 performers from all around the world will present artistic acts at four Shurooq destinations: Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba, The Flag Island and Al Noor Island.

Over these 17 days of the festival, 1,100 hours of creative entertainment content will be put up by artists and performers from across the world, including the US, UK, South Africa and the Middle East.

There is going to be a mix of all – family entertainment, children’s theatre, interactive shows, dance and music. I wish I could go and see some of these best acts.

Here is an interesting break-down too. The Sharjah Fringe Festival will see in total 35 ticketed productions go on sale along with 30 free outdoor street shows which will be presented in over 600 performances throughout the event.

As a art and culture lover, I would love to take this opportunity to appreciate the creators, strategic partners and the sponsors behind the project. The idea sounds so genuine when they say that 200-plus nationalities residing in the UAE must connect with the global language of the arts and build bridges with cultures.

Shows for kids and children

Don’t miss at the Sharjah Fringe

I was really excited to see the line up of events and here are the best picks.

The Bubble Show: Features Maxwell the Bubbleologist’s breathtaking exploration of the dynamics of bubbles. UK-based performer Maxwell Graham combines comedy and artistry with audience participation and bubble tricks to keep everyone mesmerised.

Tom Thum and Jamie MacDowell: This unique Australian duo bring to the stage only a guitar and a distinctive singing voice. Tom is a one-man orchestra who can mimic any instrument from a trumpet to drums while accompanying Jamie’ssoul-stirring melodies and words. They are winners
of the Best Music Award at the Brighton Fringe 2014 and the Adelaide Fringe 2016.

The I Hate Children Children’s Show: Children get to be the stars of this award-winning magic and comedy show as they are invited on stage to become the heroes of the show, which stars Paul Nathan (HBO, StarTrek Voyager).

Grumpy Pants: Spain’s Francisco Vita (aka Kiki Vita) will delight families in this hilarious show featuring perfectly crafted juggling routines, physical comedy and fork throwing.

Sticks Stones Broken Bones: In this show that comes in all the way from South Africa, household junk and bits of rubbish are transformed into wordless shadow puppet stories. The puppets are created live and on the spot. Watch out for flying chickens, sneaky Ninjas and brain transplants!

All the best, Sharjah!

Written by

Manjulika Pramod

An engineer who loves to be called a blogger more!
Traveler, short-story writer, voracious reader, foodie is the better me!
Reading, eating, traveling, exploring, observing and blogging are the beautiful highs of my life.