About the International Festival of Arts & Ideas

“The Festival is a collaboration; an innovation; an exchange of hope and passion.”

Nancy Yao Massbach, President of the Museum of Chinese in America

About the Festival

For 22 years, the Festival has delighted audiences with an outstanding mix of entertaining and inspiring programs. Internationally acclaimed dance, an eclectic array of world-class musicians, breathtaking circus, ground-breaking theatre and engaging speakers define the Festival as our region’s premier arts and culture destination. The June Festival boasts over 170 events and at least 85% are totally free. Year-round programs include special town-hall events, a fellowship program for youth, planning and implementing mini-festivals in inner-city neighborhoods, and our Visionary Leadership Award.

Each year we welcome artists and speakers from all over the world - Angelique Kidjo, Bristol Old Vic, Handspring Puppet Company, Rosanne Cash, Little Richard,The National Theatre of Scotland, Yo-Yo Ma, Druid Theatre, Kronos Quartet, Spike Lee, and Salman Rushdie have all shared their talents and ideas. New Haven’s walkable historic downtown core and warm June weather forms the perfect backdrop for this highly accessible, international event.

About New Haven

We invite you to visit one of the most diverse, creative and welcoming small cities in New England. We have a rich history and outstanding academic institutions including Yale where many of our events take place. The Festival centers around the Yale campus and the historic New Haven Green. New Haven is a walkable “human-scale” city with shops, outstanding restaurants, museums, boutique hotels and several parking areas. There is public transportation from Metro North train station and we are off I-95 and I-91.

Set in the beautiful hills and estuaries of Connecticut, New Haven is home to the Wampanoag tribe, a storied colonial history and a long tradition of welcoming immigrants from all over the world. One out of every eight residents is foreign-born and our students speak over 100 languages at home. Although immigration is a complex issue, residents widely agree that our diversity is the primary source of our cultural, social and economic health. We think that’s something we should all celebrate. Join us here for 15 days each June and see what makes this city sparkle.

History of the Festival

When Anne Calabresi, Jean Handley and Roslyn Meyer founded the Festival in 1996, their aim was to gather world-class artists and thinkers from around the globe, showcasing the city and the state as a major arts destination. Our Mission, as set by our founders, is to create an internationally renowned festival in New Haven of the highest quality with world-class artists, thinkers, and leaders, attracting and engaging a broad and diverse audience celebrating and building community and advancing economic development.

There is a powerful synergy that happens when authors, scientists, and leading innovators are presented alongside outstanding artists. Our founders believed, as we do today, that when great ART and big IDEAS come together, we heighten our ability to understand and imagine. Our Festival was modeled after the great European arts festivals including Edinburgh Festival, which was founded in the ashes of World War II. The underlying goal of our festival and those worldwide is to bring people together in one place to increase international understanding, social cohesion, and celebrate diversity.