Plan to travel abroad this summer? Why not add some theatre to the mix? We’ve compiled a list of 26 international festivals as farflung as Australia (where technically it will be a winter festival) and Croatia, and even a bit closer in Canada and right here in the U.S. Whether you want to sample standup in Scotland or hear Sarah Ruhl rendered in Icelandic, we have a list that will keep you busy for months.
Fans of cabaret can binge Down Under at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival (June 10–25). Artists visiting the festival this year include Dita Von Teese, Megan Hilty, and Joe Stilgoe. Other programs include Starman, a tribute to David Bowie, and Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho, which sold out previously at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The Bayimba International Arts Festival (Sept. 18–20) will be held for the ninth year running at the National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda. Programming includes music, dance, visual arts, film, and theatre. The schedule will be announced soon.
Currently in its 27th season, Bard on the Beach (June 3–Sept. 24) is located in Vancouver, Canada. This year the lineup will feature The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pericles, Romeo & Juliet, and Othello.
Each September a million people flock to Brisbane Festival (Sept. 3–24) in Australia for theatre, music, dance, circus, and opera. The festival became annual in 2009, and this year it will feature a modern take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring superheroes, Nerf guns, and a food fight, and a reimagining of Snow White that comes with the warning, “Don’t bring the children.”
Australia’s Darwin Festival (Aug. 4–21) was born out of a 1977 celebration of the town’s revival after the devastation of Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve in 1974. In the 1990s, the annual festival began its focus on community arts.
The coastal city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, rests on the Adriatic Sea. Since the 1950s, the city has mounted Western European classics with the influence of Croatian culture, setting plays in the palaces, parks, and towers for the Dubrovnik Festival (July 10–Aug. 25). This year’s theatrical lineup includes Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid performed by Gavella City Drama Theatre, and the Ulysses Theatre’s production of Sophocles: Antigone—2000 Years Later, among others.
People flock to Scotland’s capital city in droves to see performances in Edinburgh each summer. This year the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August 5–29) will feature 977 productions in more than 300 venues. The fare will include comedy shows, children’s theatre, operas, musicals, and street events.
Founded in 1947, the Festival D’Avignon (July 6–24) in the South of France produces between 35 and 50 productions, for a total of 300 performances across around 20 venues. With more than 3,500 French and international artists participating in the festival, this year’s programming will include The Damned, directed by Ivo van Hove, and an adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666 directed by Julien Gosselin.
The Festival Internacional de Londrino (Aug. 19-Sept.4), or FiLo, is currently embarking on its 48th season in Paraná, Brazil. The festival features both Brazilian and international work.
Since 1996, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival (June 24–July 2) has brought more than 100,000 spectators to the outdoors for street shows, dance, and theatre performances in the open air. The festival’s focus is on commissioning and developing works by national and international Deaf artists and artists with disabilities. This year’s outdoor festival includes playful mechanical creatures crafted by performing arts group foolpool, a drum and firework performance from Deabru Beltzak, and Les Commandos Percu from the Basque Country.
The Holland Festival (June 4–26), founded in 1947, brings seasoned and emerging artists from around the globe to present innovative theatre and music performances. The 2016 festival, which will have a focus on the current state of Europe, will open with a play by Austrian writer Peter Handke, Stunde da wir nichts voneinander wußten, directed by Estonian directors Ene-Liis Semper and Tiit Ojasoo. The lineup will also include The Encounter, a solo performance from England’s physical performance group Complicite.
Did you participate in Science Olympiad in high school? Well, India has its own version for stagestruck youth, India Theatre Olympiad (Sept. 2–13), presented by the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People. Currently in its 24th year, the festival features more than 3,000 Indian artists, as well as international artists from the disciplines of music, theatre, dance, and general performing arts.
The International Arts Carnival (July 10–Aug.16) is a family-oriented festival in Hong Kong, China. Among the festival’s child-friendly productions are Legend of the Silk Road, an acrobatics- and dance-filled production by Shaanxi Acrobatic Troupe, as well as performances from local and international arts groups from Australia, France, Spain, Taiwan, and the U.K.
Since beginning in 1993, International NZ Comedy Festival (April 22–May 14) has filled the cities of Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, with international comedians for three weeks. This year’s comedians include Beth Vyse, who takes a comic look at her own journey with breast cancer with As Funny as Cancer, and Alexis Dubus, whose Bl**dy Brief History of Swearing uncovers the history and ancestry of cursing. Other programs include improv nights, quiz nights, and Deaf-friendly comedy nights.
The Israel Festival (May 24–June 6) takes place in various spaces throughout Jerusalem. The programming includes music, theatre, and dance, including More Than Naked, a piece performed by entirely nude dancers, and La Mélancolie des Dragons, which promises aging rockers, soap bubbles, plastic bags, music from the Middle Ages, and a dog.
Every two years, the LIFT Festival (June 1–July 2) brings international artists to venues across the cityscape of London. This year’s festival will be performed everywhere from the Barbican to graveyards in East End to historic music halls. Taylor Mac will kick off the festival with his performance piece chronicling 24 decades of American music. The lineup will also include Everything by my side by Fernando Rubio from Argentina, and Late Night from Greece’s the blitz theatre group, and The Hamilton Complex from Belgium’s youth theatre group, among others.
The National Eisteddfod of Wales (July 29–Aug. 6) is a mobile festival that that travels from Northern to Southern Wales, attracting more than 150,000 people along the way. This cultural festival can trace its origins all the way back to 1176, with the modern history of the incorporated organization beginning in 1861. More than 6,000 competitors participate each year, with prizes for the drama component of the festival encompassing monologues, short plays, and young theatre artists.
On its website Prague Fringe (May 27–June 4) dubs itself the “naughty grandchild” of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Currently in its 15th year, the festival programs 40 shows for a total of more than 200 performances in the capital city of the Czech Republic. Productions range from theatre and storytelling to comedy, dance, and music. The productions are performed around Prague’s Malá Strana district. Highlights of this year’s festival include Kathie Bergquist’s’s one-woman show Beautiful Radiant Things: Queer Girl Tales and Tin Bucket Drum, a South African production with a new take on African storytelling.
The Reykjavik Arts Festival (May 21–June 5) is an annual multidisciplinary fete celebrating the intersection of different art forms. The festival, founded in 1970, brings artists from around the world to present theatre, dance, and music. This year’s program will include an Icelandic translation of Dead Man’s Cellphone, in the nation’s first production of the work of Sarah Ruhl. And Wunderland Theatre Company from Aarhus, Denmark, will mount a sensory journey at a harbor and through historic buildings, led by a GPS sound system, music, and scents.
The Shaw Festival (April 9–Oct.23) is currently running in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The festival’s four performance spaces house selections that include an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, Our Town, and Uncle Vanya, among others.
What better place to watch the story of the Danish prince than in Denmark? Since 1816, Shakespeare at Hamlet’s Castle (Aug. 1–21) has welcomed artists from around the globe to reinvent Shakespeare’s works. Of course, Hamlet is on the menu, with a 30-minute digital puppet animation created by Rokoko Studios titled Hamlet Ghost Story and Hamlet: Who’s There? from Flute Theatre, as well as the world premiere of the opera Hamlet in Absentia. Other Shakespeare selections will include Measure for Measure in Russian, in a coproduction by the U.K.’s Cheek by Jowl and the Pushkin Theatre of Moscow, Russia.
The SAMOSA Festival (July 18–24), whose name stands for South Asian Mosaic of Society and the Arts, was founded in 2005 by AwaaZ Magazine and takes place in Kenya. The festival, a fusion of Asian and African cultures, showcases Kenyan and South Asian artists with programming that includes exhibitions, discussions, fashion shows, concerts, and performances to promote the message of cross-cultural cohesion.
The Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds (June 24–July 10) in Spoleto, Italy, was founded in 1958. The 59th annual festival will feature a production of 1984 presented by The Actors’ Gang, La MaMa Etc.’s production of Pylade, and Antigone In Exilium presented by the winners of the Ellen Stewart International Award. The music programming will include a tribute to Elizabeth Swados, with young musicians performing Swados’s The Girl With the Incredible Feeling.
Closer to home is the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. (May 27–June 12), in Charleston, S.C. Founded in 1977, the festival fills historic theatres and churches of Charleston for 17 days and nights of theatre, dance, and music. This year’s theatrical lineup includes the Gate Theatre from Dublin’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, the Chicago-based performance collective Manuel Cinema’s Ada/Ava, and Golem by the ensemble 1927, among others. A sold-out production of Porgy and Bess will commemorate the festival’s 40th anniversary just less than a mile from Cabbage Row, which inspired the opera’s setting of Catfish Row.
Each year, seven critics meet to pick productions for the Theatereffen Festival (May 6–22). This year, the critics saw 394 productions from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and selected 10 for the festival, now in its 53rd iteration. Among the lucky few are Henrik Ibsen’s Ein Volksfeind (An Enemy of the People), adapted by Dietmar Doth and directed by Stefan Pucher, and Brian Friel’s Väter und Söhne (Fathers and Sons), directed by Daniela Löffner and based on the novel by Ivan Turgenev.
This year, Germany’s Tollwood Festival (June 30–July 6) will feature Gravity & Other Myths, an acrobatic performance accompanied by a live percussionist. Also on the docket are Tim Sneddon and Bunk Puppets from Australia with Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones, and Face Nord, and a performance from French acrobats.
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