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Unlocking the fabulousness of the Fringe

Published on 21 June 2019

There are a few things you may not know about navigating the hundreds of performances on offer at the National Arts Festival Fringe, which runs in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) for 11 Amazing Days from 27 June to 7 July.

The Fringe is a hotbed of innovation and packed with shows you will love discovering. Keep plenty of time on your schedule for the ‘hot buzz’ shows – the unexpected hits that get everyone talking, and the recipients of the coveted Standard Bank Ovation Awards, which are announced daily during the Festival.

We’re here to help you get the most out of your Festival experience so here are some ‘insider tips’ to get you started:

1. First, find shows! Browse the programme and choose some shows you think you’d like to see – don’t forget that sometimes (always?) stepping out of your ‘comfort zone’ can be very rewarding. Don’t just go for the tried-and-tested names, but also try something unknown. There are jewels waiting to be discovered, so enjoy the treasure hunt!

  • Use this site to browse shows by day, or by genre. Or use the search function if you know the title of the show (or the actor you’d like to see).
  • Download the Festival mobile app (iOS and android), where you can browse shows as well as book and pay for tickets.
  • If you’d prefer a hard copy version, order your programme from – or pick up a copy at the Box Office in Makhanda. You can also browse the programme online as a digital edition or you can download a PDF here.

2. Pay careful attention to the key of the Festival programme – it contains all the information you need about the show (casts, languages, directors, writers, duration, age recommendations, etc).

Some productions offer concessions or discounts on tickets for children and learners, students and pensioners (over 65). You may need to produce a student card or valid ID so please make sure you have this on you.

Group bookings – that’s 10 or more seats per performance – can also qualify for a discount, which will automatically be applied at checkout. But you’re encouraged to make group bookings through the Box Office on 0860 002 004 or email, as they can assist you with ensuring your seats are booked together, if there’s appropriate parking at the venues, bulk printing of tickets, etc.

The colours of the performances indicate different special offers available to you on some of the shows. These include:

  • Red: Free – Some first performances are 100% free! Remember, where productions are free, you still need to book a ticket to ensure that you will be able to get in. For performances on the Free Fringe, donations are encouraged in lieu of a ticket price.
  • Blue: Preview – This indicates that performers are offering a discount on their first performances to help get the word out. This discount ranges between 25% to 75%.
  • Green: 2-4-1 or 2-for-1 – You’ll get two tickets for the price of one on some performances. To qualify, you must book at least two full price tickets to the performance and you will only be charged for one. Any multiple of two will qualify – i.e. if you book 7 tickets you will be charged for 6 tickets at half price and 1 ticket at full price. So why not bring a friend!

3. Once you’ve decided what to see, it’s time to book your tickets. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Online: You’ll need to register on the site to pay for your tickets. You can pay by Visa or Mastercard, Instant EFT, or even bank deposit – just follow the onscreen prompts. Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive a confirmation email, which you need to check carefully. If there’s a problem, please contact the Box Office on 0860 002 004 or
  • On your phone: Register or log in to the NAF app to pay for your tickets. (You can have your barcoded ticket available on your app scanned at the door to venues, which is pretty nifty.)
  • In person: At the Festival Box Office at the Monument, or, during festival at the box office at the Village Green.

By the way, you can also buy tickets, if the show is not sold out, at the door at all venues 30 minutes before the performance start time. Cash or Snapscan only – no discounts are available at the door.

Share your tips

Do you have any Festival tips to add to our list? Tweet us, post on the NAF Superfans Facebook group or email us at and we’ll put them up on the site – please use the hashtag #naftips