International Festival of Arts & Ideas

Open-air concert at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, Connecticut
Open-air concert at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, Connecticut


LOCATION New Haven is located in south-central Connecticut, on the north shore of Long Island Sound, 80 miles (130 km) from New York

WHEN The festival takes place in the last 16 days in June


Around 17,000


77°F (25°C) during June

Established in New Haven in 1996 with the aim of highlighting and developing the city’s strong cultural and educational traditions, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas is today one of the most noteworthy arts festivals in the world. World-class performers, pre-eminent thinkers, and inspirational leaders descend on the pretty harborside city for the 16-day celebration, which stands out from other arts festivals by virtue of its innovative focus – the fusion of arts and ideas.

Performers from more than 20 countries put on hundreds of shows and events. New Haven sparkles with activity, and an upbeat summer vibe prevails, not least because 85 percent of the events are free. Visitors flock to see concerts and art installations in venues all over the city, including the Long Wharf Theater, the renowned Shubert Theater, and the famed Yale University.

There are also many open-air shows. The festival’s heartbeat is New Haven Green, a recreation area named as one of America’s ten most beautiful spaces. Past highlights at the event have included the Metropolitan Opera’s stunning rendition of Puccini’s La Bohème; a concert by blues singer and civil-rights activist Mavis Staples; and a closing-night performance by choreographer and political philosopher Liz Lerman and hundreds of “citizen dancers.” Designed to inspire new ways of thinking, this unusual and fascinating series of events embraces the traditional and experimental, the well-known and new. It is socially cohesive, occasionally controversial, and – as those who return year after year will testify – a lot of fun.

Practical Information

Getting There and Around New York’s La Guardia and JFK airports are located 2 hours’ drive from downtown New Haven; taxis and shuttle buses make the trip regularly. Interstate trains and buses run between the two cities, and a ferry service operates from Long Island in New York to Bridgeport in Connecticut, 20 miles (30 km) from New Haven. Downtown New Haven has an efficient bus system and is compact enough to be explored on foot or by bicycle.

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