Street tours with the homeless and rooftop views of performances on trams at the quirky Melbourne Fringe Festival

The unusual settings of rooftops, trams, carparks and dimly-lit lane ways are about to become home to Melbourne’s festival of eccentricities, art and independent creativity as the Melbourne Fringe Festival explodes across the Australian city.

The Melbourne Fringe Festival traverses the boundaries of art, cinema, theater, dance, fashion and music. The three-week long open-access festival fosters Melbourne's thriving arts community, providing opportunities for both emerging and established artists to present their works in a range of strange and not so strange locations.

"In this, the 29th year of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, you can stand on a roof and watch a performance pass by on a tram, take a tour of Melbourne’s streets with a homeless person, and see a show with the saints and sinners in St Paul’s Cathedral," reveals the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Among the some 320 shows scheduled for 2011 "[t]here are performances in a tent in Brunswick, a house in Fitzroy, and a room in the Art Series Hotels' The Cullen, and shows about high school, faded glory, war, mental illness, pirates and family life. Some artists push technological boundaries using projections, Xboxes and iPhone apps, others use time-honoured methods of entertaining an audience – song, dance, circus, comedy, performance and cabaret."

Across the city more than 4,000 artists will will present new works, highlights of which include the Fringe Furniture exhibition, a huge all-singing, all-dancing community participation event called Crowd Play (September 21 and 28, October 5), public art installations by three local artists in Melbourne City, and a guided tour of exhibitions and unusual spaces from tram No.19 between Elizabeth Street and Sydney Road with Art Aficionados (October 8 and 9).

In 2009 more than 560,000 visitors came to the festival to see the works of 4,815 artists at 143 venues across the state.

The Melbourne Fringe Festival leads into the 26th Melbourne International Arts Festival (commonly known as the Melbourne Festival), an event that offers a more refined and less playful selection of contemporary international and Australian events in the fields of dance, theater, music, visual arts, and multimedia. Sydney’s alternative arts event, The Sydney Fringe, runs from September 9 to October 2.

Similar events around the country include Fringe World Perth, Adelaide Fringe, the
Sydney Festival, the Adelaide Festival and the Brisbane Festival.

The 29th edition of the Melbourne Fringe Festival runs September 21-October 9 in Melbourne, Australia. The Melbourne International Arts festival takes place from October 6 to 22.
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