Theatre festivals from around the world: Every country has something special to offer

From celebration of classical acts to interactive performances, every country has something special to offer when it comes to theatre. Ahead of World Theatre Day (March 27), here’s a list of a few prominent theatre festivals from around the globe.

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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world's largest performance arts festival, which in 2019 spanned 25 days and featured more than 59,600 performances of 3,841 different shows in 322 venues.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (also referred to as the Edinburgh Fringe or Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or simply The Fringe) is the world’s largest performance arts festival, which in 2019 spanned 25 days and featured more than 59,600 performances of 3,841 different shows in 322 venues. Established in 1947 as an alternative to (and on the fringe of) the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland in August every year. It is an open-access (or ‘unjuried’) performing arts festival, meaning there is no selection committee, and anyone may participate, with any type of performance. The official Fringe Programme categorises shows into sections for theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, musicals, opera, music, exhibitions, and events.

Galway International Arts Festival

The Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF), founded in 1978, is a cultural organisation that produces an annual arts festival in Galway, Ireland. It also produces new work that tours nationally and internationally, in addition to presenting the discussion forum, ‘First Thought Talks’. The festival maintains a non-profit status. The festival takes place in Galway for two weeks in late July. It presents and produces programmes across theatre, music, visual arts, opera, street spectacle, dance, discussion and comedy. The 2018 festival set records for attendance, breaking a quarter million for the first time, representing a 20% increase over the participants in the 2017 festival. Over 600 artists created and took part in over 200 events across the festival. The organisation has also produced or co-produced more than 20 productions which have toured to London, New York, Edinburgh, Chicago, Adelaide, Sydney, Hong Kong and Washington.

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London International Festival of Theatre

The London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) is a biennial festival of theatre, performance and cultural events. The organisation also supports year-round activity in London. The organisation was founded by Rose Fenton and Lucy Neal, with the first festival in 1981 hoping to ‘challenge British theatre and open a window on the world’ .

Berliner Festspiele

The Berliner Festspiele (German for Berlin Festival) is a series of festivals, art exhibitions, and other cultural events organised all year long by a common organisation in Berlin. Events are held at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, a pre-existing theatre devolved to that purpose in 2001, as well as at the Martin-Gropius-Bau and other venues. The first of these events were the Berliner Festwochen (classical music) and the Berlin International Film Festival, in 1951. They contributed to the cultural life of West Berlin in divided Germany, before being expanded into the Eastern part of the city following Reunification.

International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama

The Festival is a theatre festival that takes place every summer in Cyprus. It is organised by the Cyprus Centre of International Theatre Institute, the deputy ministry of culture and the deputy ministry of tourism of the Republic of Cyprus. Started in 1997, it is now an annual event which attracts professional theatre companies from various parts of the world. This wide international participation in the festival helps to bring out the universality of ancient Greek drama and underline its living presence in today’s world. The festival is held in July and early August every year. The performances take place at various venues including the ancient amphitheatre at Kourion, the Paphos Ancient Odeon and the Makarios III Amphitheatre in Nicosia.

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Bregenzer Festspiele

Bregenzer Festspiele is a performing arts festival which is held every July and August in Bregenz in Vorarlberg (Austria). It features a large floating stage with a 7,000-seat open-air amphitheatre, which is situated on Lake Constance. Opera or musical productions on the floating stage generally tend to come from the popular operatic repertoire, but often are extravagantly original and innovative productions/ stagings, frequently using the waters of the lake as an extension of the stage. Throughout the seasons, the festival puts on many different performances; from operas to plays and orchestral pieces. The performances range in theme and story and many are performed in consecutive seasons.

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First published on: 26-03-2023 at 00:15 IST