The 28th Annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas

2023 marks the 28th Annual International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Each year, hundreds of the most innovative artists and thinkers come to New Haven, Connecticut to convene at the New Haven Green in the heart of Downtown. This year’s festival is sure to offer an unforgettable experience that combines art, culture, and thought-provoking dialogue. From captivating performances to inspiring speakers, the 28th Annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas promises to be one of the most memorable events of the year. 

One of the great things about living in Connecticut is the diversity of cultures, art, and cuisines you’ll find here. Being so close to New York City allows New Haven specifically to access some of the best artists and innovative thinkers from around the world. We’re so excited to welcome them to this year’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas. In just about twenty minutes, you can travel from Aspen Glen to the New Haven Green for the fun, performances, and tasty treats. 

What Is the International Festival of Arts & Ideas? 

Two color black and red logo of International Festival of Arts and Ideas
Source: The 28th Annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas

The Festival of Arts & Ideas is an annual celebration of music, dance, theater, and other forms of artistic expression that takes place in New Haven, Connecticut. Since its inception in 1996, this festival has become one of the most highly anticipated cultural events in the Northeast, attracting artists and audiences from around the world. This year’s Visionary Leadership Award goes to the award-winning Leah Penniman, a Black Kreyol farmer, mother, self-proclaimed “soil nerd,” author, and food justice advocate. 

The Festival of Arts & Ideas is more than just a series of concerts and performances; it’s a unique opportunity for people to engage with one another and explore new ideas. This event features a diverse lineup of events that range from classical concerts to thought-provoking talks and discussions. 

Whether you’re a lover of the arts, a curious intellectual, or just looking for a fun day out with family and friends, the Festival of Arts & Ideas has something for everyone.  

Performing Arts 

Black performing artist wearing cultural costume and mask

One of the highlights of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas is the spectacular array of performances that take place over the course of the event. Whether you’re a fan of classical music, modern dance, or cutting-edge theater, you’ll find something to delight and inspire you. 

One of the biggest names on this year’s performing arts roster is the internationally acclaimed dance company, The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica. Known for their breathtakingly beautiful choreography and virtuosic dancers, this is one performance that is not to be missed. 

In addition to the dance, there will also be a host of other musical performances throughout the festival, featuring everything from jazz to rock to world music. And, for theater lovers, there will be several productions staged throughout the festival, including a special, silent film-inspired production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth Muet performed by an all-star cast.  

You can also enjoy more comedic events, like Zainab Johnson from Netflix’s “100 Humans” and The Intergalactic DRAGanza: Rise of the Dragons, a showstopping event that fuses Drag Ball culture and a futuristic space adventure romp. 

Conversations & Ideas 

Close up picture of lady speaking with headset microphone with projector screen blurred in the background

One of the highlights of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven is the thought-provoking and inspiring conversations that take place throughout the event. From world-renowned speakers to local experts, the festival is a great opportunity to engage with new ideas and perspectives. The conversations and ideas portion of the festival covers a broad range of topics, including politics, social justice, the environment, education, and technology.  

In addition to keynote speakers, the festival features panel discussions, workshops, and Q&A sessions. The topics range from the serious to the lighthearted, so there is always something to keep you engaged and entertained. Don’t miss “Ebb and Flow: Water and Migration,” “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Artificial Intelligence,” “Democracy and the Struggle for the Right to Vote,” and a keynote speech from wordsmith extraordinaire, Baratunde Thurston.  

Be sure to check the festival schedule ahead of time to plan which conversations and ideas events you’d like to attend. Many of the events require advanced registration or have limited seating, so it’s best to plan ahead to secure your spot. 


Young black kid playing trumpet

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas isn’t just for adults! There are plenty of events and activities for families and children of all ages. From interactive performances to educational workshops, there’s something for everyone. Popular events, located in the New Haven Green, include plays and musical groups. Here, children can enjoy interactive shows and performances geared towards their age group. You’ll get to experience The Ghost Net: An Environmental Musical of the Sea, Polyglot Theatre’s Bees, and New Inca Son, an Andean folk ensemble. The festival also offers educational workshops for children to learn new skills and discover new interests, like Kidz Kook, ARTFARM: An Introduction to Circus Arts, and Masem Enyong: Afro Beat Fun. 

History & Tours 

New Haven city skyline at dusk

One of the highlights of the festival is the historical and architectural tours. These tours take visitors through some of the city’s most iconic buildings and landmarks. You can expect to learn about the history of New Haven and how it has influenced the city’s architecture. Tours typically include visits to Yale University’s stunning campus and buildings, including the Sterling Memorial Library, Woolsey Hall, and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. 

There are also several bike tours that visitors can take through the charming areas surrounding New Haven, such as the East Coast Greenway South tour, where you’ll find stunning seascapes along the water. Another popular tour is the Pride Ride, which showcases the district’s LGBTQIA+-owned businesses, including The Pride Center, Barracuda, and more.  

For those interested in the city’s rich cultural history, the festival also offers tours of the Outer Island with “How Sound is the Sound, Lost in New Haven” with artist and collector Robert S. Greenberg, and an Introductory Tour of Beinecke Library. You can also join in on a scavenger hunt around the New Haven Green! 

Eat & Drink 

Three contented women in the background eagerly await their falafels from food truck chef

The festival celebrates culinary arts as well, offering a wide variety of local and international cuisine. Food trucks, stalls, and restaurants around the green offer a diverse range of food options, from Mexican street food to vegan cuisine. And let’s not forget about the classic New Haven-style pizza. The city’s famous pizzerias participate in the festival, serving some of the best pies in the country.  

For those looking for a sit-down meal, there are plenty of restaurants in the area that cater to the festival goers. These eateries often offer special menus, so be sure to ask about any festival deals. The International Festival of Arts & Ideas not only celebrates food but also encourages sustainable practices. All food vendors are required to use compostable or recyclable packaging, and attendees are encouraged to recycle and compost their waste. 

One important thing to note is that alcohol is strictly prohibited inside festival grounds. Don’t forget to also be mindful of your waste and recycling and enjoy the festivities responsibly. 

What You Need to Know  

There are over 150 events planned for this year’s festival, the theme for which is “RISE.” Prices for each event vary, with more than 80% of the events being free of charge. If you’re interested in a specific event, it is best to check the website to see if it is ticketed or requires reservations.  

The festival runs from June 10 through 25, with events scattered throughout the day. There is no full festival pass, so you can attend the things you’re interested in without paying a large sum for everything. If you’re unable to attend in person, many events will be streamed live via Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitch, and the Virtual Stage.  

The New Haven Green festival area is first come, first served. You can bring chairs and blankets to ensure your comfort, but please leave large sun-shading structures at home, as everyone will want to see the stage. Smoking and alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the Green, so please be respectful of your neighbors and other festivalgoers.