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What is Sharjah Fringe Festival?

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!

10 thoughts on “What is Sharjah Fringe Festival?

  1. I thought there was only one fringe event also, and thats the one in Edinburgh. I havent been to it either, not really sure if its up my street or not, but its one of those events which I need to check out to experience it. It is good to see ideas been performed from thinking outside the box and to be honest, as a manager in my workplace, I get on with a lot of people who think out of the box and give ideas. So I really should get a fringe event a go. Not sure if it will be Edinburgh, or Sharjah…but only time will tell. 🙂

  2. I must admit that I have never really heard of Fringe festivals until we visited Edinburgh last year. So interesting to know that the Sharjah Fringe is another option. I love the variety of different entertainment that is offered. And that there are options for the whole family. Thanks for sharing the best picks!

  3. I too had only heard of the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s interesting to learn there are so many around the world to showcase the non-mainstream artists and performers. This Sharjah Fringe sounds like a great event to attend, though I guess if the events are spread out across the Middle East region, it’s not so easy to attend a lot of them?

  4. I have to admit that I haven’t heard of the Fringe Festival on such a large scale. I thought it was just an event in Edinburgh. Your article intrigued me. For me, as a photography enthusiast, this is interesting because I like to take reportage photos. That is why I would like to see this festival to be able to photograph artists during performance.

  5. I have neither heard of the Fringe Festival before nor of such a large scale. Does it take place every year within a fixed period of time? I haven’t been to Ireland and if we go, we would like to take a look. Is there a website talking about this specific event? The entertainments have options for the whole family which makes it a nice activity for us.

  6. The Sharjah Fringe festival sounds interesting, like an old vaudeville show. Grumpy Pants looks like a cross between Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp. My husband would love the I hate Children Children’s show – such an ironic title.

  7. This is totally new for me and glad to learn about it from your post. I can imagine the festivity on the street where street performers showing off their creativity. Sounds like The Bubble Show and Tom Thum and Jamie MacDowell are the two performers that I don’t want to miss if I’m there.

  8. I have heard of fringe festivals, but I honestly never knew what they were. It’s also super interesting that they have been around for so long! I would think that more people would be aware of them because they’ve been around a while.

  9. Wow, Thanks for this informative post! I got to know what fringe festival is. I would like to witness this kind of fun performance in the future too…

  10. Thanks for the interesting post! Now, I got to know about fringe festival. I’d love to experience this too. I would like to witness this kind of fun performance in the future.

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