What to Expect at… the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival

An ice cream cone rests on a dark blue and white background. Drips in different shades of orangey-pink burst away from the cone, while black splatter matching the sprinkles on top of the dessert rests just behind the cone.

Looking for information about your favourite theatres? We’ve got you covered! Intermission’s Insider Intel articles showcase one theatre at a time to give you all the information you need before your visit.

This week: Ottawa Fringe

What kind of theatre do they produce?

For 26 years, the Ottawa Fringe Festival has been a hub of creativity and expression, showcasing works of art that push the boundaries of traditional theatre. The festival is dedicated to providing a platform for emerging and established artists to showcase their talents and connect with audiences. Whether your favourite flavour is comedy, drama, stand-up, autobiography, musical theatre, or dance, Ottawa Fringe has a show for every palate. 

This year, 45 shows will sprinkle their work across six venues in downtown Ottawa, featuring the work of artists from across the world. From Ottawa to Portland and Berlin to Wellington, the 2023 Ottawa Fringe festival is bringing ten days of fresh, diverse performances for audiences to enjoy.


The Ottawa Fringe Festival operates out of downtown Ottawa’s Arts Court. Located right across from the Rideau Centre and steps from a myriad of popular bars and restaurants, the beautiful heritage building operates as Ottawa Fringe’s central hub, situating the festival in the heart of the city. 

Accessible by transit, car, and foot, Arts Court is home to over 19 local arts organizations — including the Fringe! The venue offers a wide variety of multidisciplinary artistic programming year round, with the Fringe taking centre stage in June.

For more information on how to get to Arts Court, or tips for your next trip, visit the Arts Court website.


The 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival has six venues, all within the central hub of Arts Court, the University of Ottawa’s theatre department, and the Ottawa Art Gallery. Each venue is connected, making transit from show to show an absolute breeze, and the festival’s outdoor courtyard can be accessed right outside of Venue 5 — Club SAW

  1. Arts Court Theatre 
  2. ODD Box 
  3. LabO Theatre 
  4. Studio 1201 
  5. Club SAW 
  6. BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) — Atelier

The Ottawa Fringe Festival’s main box office is located directly outside of the Arts Court Theatre. For more information about the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival’s venue, or to browse their directory of shows, visit their website.

A crowd of people wait in line to see a show at Ottawa Fringe. Original Image by Andrew Alexander.

COVID-19 Safety Information

Mask-wearing is encouraged at the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival, in an effort to keep the Fringe accessible for all patrons, artists, volunteers, and staff and to protect vulnerable communities. Though mask wearing will not be enforced by Ottawa Fringe during the festival, some artists have opted to make masking mandatory during their performances, a decision fully supported by the festival. If any patrons have forgotten a mask and would like one, they are invited to visit any of the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival’s box offices, where they will happily supply one. 

For more information on the Ottawa Fringe’s commitment to the health and safety of their staff, patrons, and artists, check their website. To browse their listings of mask-required performances, please visit their show page.


The Ottawa Fringe remains committed to supporting and presenting diverse, inclusive, accessible theatre, and to empowering their community of artists and patrons. Their priorities are:

  • to create safe and inclusive spaces 
  • to support all artists, and 
  • to promote equitable access to expression 

Every show looks, sounds, and feels different to each unique audience member. Ottawa Fringe is committed to representative programming to ensure that every story has the opportunity to be told. 

Ottawa Fringe’s accessibility policies and commitments are an evolving process. This year, the festival is offering a variety of measures and solutions to address a spectrum of accessibility needs. Some offerings are offered by venue, while others are available by request: the fringe has filtered their productions into a number of categories to help audiences select the shows that will best meet their unique needs:

  • Wheelchair and scooter accessible
  • Latecomers allowed 
  • Attendant, Personal Support, and Respite workers 
  • Service Animals 
  • Sensory Backpacks 
  • Scent Free 
  • Chill Out Space 
  • Assistive Listening 
  • Transcripts 
  • Pre-Show Audio Notes 
  • Content Notes 

When browsing the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival show directory, audiences can filter their search by access needs. The festival invites patrons with questions about Ottawa Fringe’s policies or accessibility measures to contact their access coordinator, Drea (she/her), by email. To read Ottawa Fringe’s 2023 Access Guide, visit their website.

Ticket Prices

Every audience member at the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival requires a Fringe Pin to enter any show. Fringe pins are a one-time purchase of only $3, with enamel-coated Legacy pins — which can be used year-over-year — available for $12. Ottawa Fringe works hard to ensure that 100 per cent of ticket sales go directly to the performers, so Fringe pins (and donations) help the festival grow.

Tickets to all individual shows at the 2023 Ottawa Fringe are $12; however, the Fringe offers several solutions to help devoted Fringers save. There are two types of passes available for the 2023 festival: a five-show pass (five tickets for $55), and a 10-show pass (10 tickets for $100). Patrons can choose to use their passes as individuals, or split them amongst a group. Additionally, select shows will offer half-price ($6) tickets for day-of productions, which must be purchased in-person at the box office. 

For more information on how to purchase tickets or discover savings at the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival, visit their website.

Fringe Karaoke, hosted by China Doll. Photo by Andrew Alexander.

What other programming do they offer?

From preview night to the ever-popular Silent Disco and Smut Slam to the closing night Best of Fest round-up, the 2023 Ottawa Fringe offers a variety of ancillary programming to complement the line-up of shows, and provide patrons and artists alike with more opportunities to connect and explore the arts. All ancillary programming will take place within the interconnected Fringe venues.

Since 2011, Ottawa Fringe has programmed undercurrents festival, a theatrical oasis which takes form every winter. undercurrents showcases the work of local, national, and international artists in a ten-day event in the core of Canada’s capital city. In 2023, for the first time, undercurrents festival offered bilingual programming, a change that will continue in subsequent festivals. Additionally, undercurrents festival offers under development, a new play development program that offers local artists and collectives the opportunity to work on their new creation pieces in a year-long residency at Arts Court.

To view the full schedule of ancillary programming at the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival, visit their website.

Where to eat and drink

The Ottawa Fringe Festival’s hub will be located in the newly renovated SAW Courtyard at 67 Nicholas Street, downtown Ottawa. The festival hub is the place to meet friends old and new; grab a drink and a bite to eat; share stories; connect with artists and audiences; and ask “What have you seen? What should I see?” 

The Fringe will also offer concessions in the Arts Court Studio for patrons looking to purchase a quick snack between shows.

For more information about eating, drinking, and connecting at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, visit their website.

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Written By

Jessica is a former associate editor at Intermission, as well as a writer, classically-trained actor, and plant enthusiast. Since graduating from LAMDA in the UK with her MA in acting, you can often find her writing screenplays and short plays in the park, writing extensive lists of plant care tips, or working on stage and screen (though she uses a stage name). Jessica freelances with various companies across Canada, but her passion lies in working with theatre artists and enthusiasts.