Whether your summer vacation plans are to swim in the Adriatic Sea, traverse the beaches in Australia or hike the Highlands in Scotland, this list of theatre festivals from all seven continents is sure to complete any summer trip abroad—or be the reason to travel in the first place.
The annual Adelaide Cabaret Festival (June 5–20) commences during the Queen’s birthday weekend in June in this coastal capital of South Australia. The festival was created to preserve the Australian traditions of musical theatre and political satire. Now in its 15th year, the festival brings together artists from around the world to perform classic and contemporary cabaret performances. Past guests have included Olivia Newton-John, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.
As one of Brazil’s largest festivals, the Festival Internacional de Teatro (July 2–11) takes place in the municipality of São José do Rio Preto. The festival, now in its 46th year, fosters new experimental theatre and brings together performing artists to share their innovative viewpoints on theatre.
Founded in 1990, the Bard on the Beach Festival (June 4–Sept. 26) in Vancouver, Canada is a Shakespeare celebration with a backdrop of mountains, sea and sky. This year’s Shakespearean fare includes The Comedy of Errors, King Lear and Love’s Labours Lost. C.C. Humphrey’s Shakespeare’s Rebel will conclude the festival. Productions from Shakespeare’s Globe will also be seen.
In its 66th anniversary season, the Dubrovnik Festival (July 10–Aug. 25) is the oldest cultural celebration in Croatia. The festival was created in 1950 with inspiration from the many burgeoning cultural institutions in Europe. Offerings include theatre, ballet, dance, classical music and opera. Open-air venues allow for attendees to enjoy views of the Adriatic Sea.
The International Arts Carnival (July 10–Aug. 16) takes place in Hong Kong, China, with programming geared toward children and families. This year will feature the acrobatic spectacular The Legend of the Silk Road, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States and performing arts companies from Australia, France, Spain, Taiwan and the U.K. The festivities include shadow puppetry, physical theatre and immersive theatre for all ages.
The Prague Fringe (May 22–30) takes place in numerous venues around the historic district of Malá Strana in the capital city of Prague, Czech Republic. The 14th annual program will include 200 performances of 40 different shows featuring comedy, theatre, cabaret and music.
Since 1816, the open air courtyard of Kronberg Castle has welcomed Shakespearean troupes from around the world to perform interpretations and renditions of Shakespeare’s many works at the Shakespeare at Hamlet’s Castle (Aug. 1–10) in Helsingør, Denmark. This year’s Shakespearean fare will be a production of Hamlet by a German troupe, Diagnosis Hamlet from a company from Spain, a screening of The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino and the musical event Shakespeare in Concert conducted by Frans Rasmussen of Denmark.
The Greenwich + Docklands International Festival (June 26–July 5) attracts more than 110,000 attendees each year to the royal borough of Greenwich, England. This year’s lineup features an outdoor production of The Four Fridas (July 1–4), a large scale celebration of the life of Frida Kahlo featuring music, contemporary dance, narration, aerial choreography and flying canvases with video projections. A group of young indigenous women from the village of Xochiapulcho will conduct the ancient ceremony of the flight of Voladores, accompanied by a musical performance of flutes and drums.
The 69th Festival d’Avignon (July 4–25) will take place in the city of Avignon, France along the Rhône River. The three week festival brings arts and academia together to explore the changing scope of culture in France. The festival includes dance, theatre productions and lectures on contemporary literature. This year’s festivities open with Jonathan Châtel’s new play Andreas, inspired by August Strindberg’s process of writing To Damascus.
Journalists, theatremakers and culture enthusiasts gather at the Berliner Festspiele Arts Center in Berlin, Germany for the Theatereffen Festival (May 1–17). Every year, 10 plays are selected from a pool of 400 productions from across Deutschland. These notable plays are featured in the festival, along with public discussions regarding sociopolitical topics, commerce and worldwide cultures. Five new plays from authors across Europe will be read as part of the Stückemarkt series.
India Theatre Olympiad: International Theatre Festival (July 1–12) takes place in Odisha, India. In its 23rd season, the festival invites performing artists from around the globe to represent their culture heritage through the arts. Highlights of this year’s lineup include a drama competition, a folk dance competition, a music competition and a camp fire cultural festival.
Cork Midsummer Festival (June 12–21) will take place on two weekends in the streets, parks and outdoor spaces in the city of Cork, Ireland. The festival will feature street art, circus acts, dance, theatre and visual arts from Irish artists and performers from all around the world. Highlights of this year’s festival include a flash performance in the streets, an immersive theatre experience of Samuel Beckett’s Not I and a performance entitled PIG that will take place in the belly of a giant inflatable pig.
The E45 Napoli Fringe Festival (June 3–28) takes place in Naples, Italy. The festival was named after the road E45, which connects Finland, Sicily and Italy. The festival promotes emerging authors and theatre-makers and celebrates multiculturalism in the arts. Highlights of this year’s lineup include a dance performance entitled White on White from innovative Swiss choreographer Daniele Finzi Pasca, a mounting of English playwright Sarah Kane’s play Crave, a bilingual presentation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie and a Spanish performance art group’s exploration of Russia with a play about a trip through Siberia in a sedan.
The Holland Festival (June 23– May 30) will take place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. With a heady mix of opera, theatre, music and film, this festival brings the newest performing arts to the capital city. Highlights include Liam Gillick’s free open-air exhibition on Museumplein throughout the festival, a large-scale opera production of Lulu at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet, the virtual reality of Hatsune Miku in The End and the ballet Cool Britannia.
Every year, performing artists from all over the world travel in droves to participate in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Aug. 7–31) in Scotland. As the largest theatre festival in the world, nearly 50,000 performances took place in nearly 300 venues in Scotland’s capital city last year. Thousands of new plays by emerging artists will pop up throughout the city alongside some of Europe’s most well-known players.
Now in its 9th year, the Bushfire music and arts festival aims to promote social responsibility and to stimulate the economy through the creative arts. The festival takes place in the Ezulwini Valley in Swaziland. Billed as one of the top music festivals in all of Africa, Bushfire is a three-day celebration of poetry, music, dance, storytelling, puppetry and film. In addition to performances, there will be workshops, discussions and guest speakers to inspire attendees to be better global citizens.
Every July, Grahamstown, South Africa is transformed into a performing arts mecca with the National Arts Festival (July 2–12), taking place in more than 50 venues. Highlights of this year’s festival include the South African premiere of Masote’s Dream and A Voice I Cannot Silence, a play based on the work of Alan Paton. In addition to the theatre offerings, the festival showcases more than 500 performances including visual arts, comedy and folk music.