Melbourne Fringe Festival turns 40

Melbourne Fringe Festival turns 40
Carol Saffer

The 2022 Melbourne Fringe Festival theme “it’s about time” is appropriate for an event that has 40 years of history to celebrate and three lost years to make up for due to COVID.

This year’s first in-person Fringe Festival kicks off with an enormous free opening night 40th birthday party on October 6 and runs through to Friday, October 23.

Melbourne Fringe creative director and CEO Simon Abrahams said the expanded program of new exhibitions, dynamic public art and brand-new art precincts made it the most ambitious festival.

“Through this festival, we’re writing a history of the future,” he said.

“We’ve centered free events as our birthday gift back to the city, including free participatory public artworks and, of course, the return of our iconic Fringe Parade.”

On Saturday, October 15, from 3pm, join or watch the parade of community groups, marching bands, trade unionists, dog walkers, drag queens, fashionistas and the public, march along Lygon St from Faraday St to Argyle Square.

The Square is the scene for a block party that will rock on until late, with two live stages featuring Fringe acts and live music, roving entertainers, and a reprisal of the famed Waiters’ Race that will keep the celebrations going.

Executive officer of Carlton Inc Phillip Mansour said, “The Lygon St traders are in for a great surprise.”


“We haven’t seen the street closed like this for a long time; it will be invigorating for the area and the start of many more events like this,” he said.


With a long list of exhibitions and performances by extraordinary artists and organisations, there are more than 450 events planned for clubs, theatres, galleries, computer screens, parks, and bars of Melbourne.

The return of the Festival Hub at Trades Hall is greatly anticipated as well as the introduction of a Festival Park at Queen Victoria Market.

A taste of what to expect at Trades Hall ranges from Georgia Kate Bell’s Babecity Hotline and Miss Cairo’s Breasts Become Her to English Breakfast by AJ Lamarque and Bonkel Theatre’s puppet performance I once was a tree, along with many other acts and performances.

Deadly Fringe, Melbourne Fringe’s First Nations program, features brand-new works by senior and established First Nations artists exploring time, past, present, and future concepts.

Productions by LGBTQIA+ artists, including 290 trans and gender diverse artists, account for more than 51 per cent of the shows at the festival, while 238 deaf and disabled artists make up 13 per cent of festival events.

Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos said, “throughout its 40-year history, Melbourne Fringe has provided a platform for so many of Australia’s artists and creative leaders, allowing our independent creative community to take risks and bring their work to the legendary Fringe audience.”

“The flow-on effects of hundreds of festival-goers each night enjoying the city and its restaurants and bars will be enormous.” •

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