Since the mid-1990's, what started as one festival in Old city has grown into two and city-wide. This year's edition opens Friday night and runs through September 22nd.
Producing director Nick Stuccio works hard to keep the event he calls art "left of center" growing in every way. Performers come from all over the world. New this year, shows at the Merriam Theatre and the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater.
They're no less cutting-edge, just in bigger houses. Those shows carry higher ticket prices, but fans on a budget will still find dozens of choices costing little or nothing to see.
One of the featured events this year is "Junk", a performance featuring acrobats on a combination cage and trampoline.
Artistic director Brian Sanders first presented it on Penn's Landing eight years ago. This year's edition is what he calls repurposed. The show will be presented on a pier near the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Sanders says it draws on his vision and the energy of the performers. It also relies on feedback from the audience, so he says no one will know exactly how the show turns out each night until it's over.
The festivals also have a tradition of a nightly cabaret, where performers are encouraged to gather and interact with fans...not just a casual handshake in a receiving line.
This year, that's at Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill Street just north of Center City. There's also Festival the night of Wednesday, September 12, when restaurant movers and shakers like Michael Solomonov, Audrey Claire Taichman and Stephen Starr join forces to create an extravagant night of food and drink to benefit the festivals.
You may also phone 215- 413-1318.
Next year, the festivals will base the nightly cabaret in a building of their own down on Penn's Landing, so the event will stop moving around. It's more evidence of how the "fringe" movement has grown, and how it;s here to stay.