What is ABSFest? 

Now in our 14th Year, ABSFest is a three-day Burlesque & Sideshow festival held in Asheville, NC, historically known as the ‘Paris of the South’ (and more recently in the news as a ‘Cesspool of Sin’). The event offers three days of performance, networking, shopping and workshops for both the public and the professional performer. 

ABSFest hires national and international headliners to lead the festival each year, and selects other acts from the pool of Performer Applications. 

ABSFest attempts to integrate all the Vaudeville Revival Arts under one marquee, to ensure the best possible shows and the most inspiring collaborations in the broader Burlesque and Sideshow communities. 

The event is spread through venues downtown, allowing the visitor to sample the city. Asheville  is ideal for the low-budget traveler as well as the committed foodie, with great coffee-shops, DIY boutiques, and all things wonderful. 

We wrap up the event for our festival artists with the Vaudeville Theatre Bus ride! 

ABSFest believes in the power of education, both for the public and the artists empowering each other to excel in the craft. The sessions are open to all, and are priced for accessibility. Teaching artists get 70% of class profits, and all performers are encouraged to attend a class: support the artists, learn something new, and help create a culture of professionalism, constructive critique and valued information-sharing.

How does the application process work? 

Visit the festival website, fill out the Performer Application, send your print-ready pictures, and pay the application fee. We weigh all the applications with a mind to creating the most balanced programming possible. Confirmation that your Application was received should arrive within two weeks of your submission. Casting notices start going out to mid-March. If your act is accepted, please be prepared to submit your music, tech specs, and bios for use on stage and in the program in a prompt manner. 

Consider bringing your most polished and creative pieces to share.

Please note that application fees are non-refundable. 

Where do the artists stay and eat in Asheville, and how do they get around?

Parking is available at and around each venue. Those flying in will receive travel coordination assistance.

We have a variety of suggestions for lodging:The DownTown Inn is very basic, but central to everything. Another downtown option is the Sweet Peas Hostel.

Many artists choose Air BnBs in West Asheville. Many artists enjoy teaming up for maximum accomodation fun, and quite a few have made lasting friendships from their experiences!

Do the acts get paid?

Currently compensation is generally limited to headliners and staff.We do pay more and more artists every year; however most folks perform for the opportunity to meet people, book gigs, learn, and collaborate in upmarket venues. Those professional venues and technicians make every artist look and sound fabulous.

Artists teaching through the ABSFestABSfest Seminary offset the costs of travel by keeping 70% of workshop revenues. Sometimes, the festival works with the local arts commission to create more paid street work for our artists as well. It’s worth it, we pinkie-swear!

To optimize your benefits from your performance, ABSFest also offers  professional videography and photography to capture the weekend.

Do I get comp tickets?

There are no comps for friends and family, as the venues are generally at capacity.

We offer each artist who applies a guest ticket for either the Friday or Sunday show, whether their act is accepted or not!

Is there free vending?

As a courtesy, we will put out, and joyously steward, a limited amount of your merch at the big Saturday show. You will need to provide the Vendor Coordinator with your merch, an inventory sheet, and a cash bank. If you want to make a bigger impression with your wares, you will want to rent a table. Talk to us, we can help.

What are the airport options?

Asheville has a modest airport 30 minutes out, AVL, and for $30 and advance notice we can arrange for you to be picked up and returned from the airport to a central locale. Paypal and email to futureoftradition@gmail.com to arrange details.

Will my performance be recorded?

Yes! We have photographers and videographers documenting the shows. Every performer is required to fill out a waiver allowing the event to use their image, moving and still, to promote future festivals. Photos and videos will be available some time after the festival, to allow for processing. Video access will available for a  a fee to be determined by the videographer.

What is the Annual Award?

ABSFest traditionally honors one regional artist per year on the Orange Peel stage with an Artist Recognition Award for valiant work in keeping the Vaudeville Arts alive and vibrant. In 2011, the award was renamed the Phil Slomski Artist Recognition Award, in memory of that fine artist and human.

What’s this Vaudeville Bus Ride thing about?

The perfect wind-down for the ABSFest weekend, our hilarious and frequently tipsy VAUDEVILLE BUS rides through the city AFTER the Sunday Brunch show. This bus is 40 feet long and comes with leopard print, wine, and song. Relax in style after a weekend crammed with shows and classes, and spend a little quality time with your fellow ABSFest artists before the weekend is over.

Please note that there is a strict RSVP BUS policy. You will receive an RSVP email prior to the festival if your act is accepted. The bus can only fit FORTY people. Don’t miss it!