The International Festival of Arts & Ideas is Back, Baby: Here’s What You Need to Know

In its 22nd season, thousands of festivalgoers are again expected to crowd the many attractions featured at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas (IFAI) in New Haven from June 3-24.

Dozens of musicians, speakers, performers and thought leaders in the international art community will arrive in the Elm City to provide more than 200 events. Plus, perhaps the best (and most inclusive) part of the festival is that more than 85 percent of the events are free.

Events will take place in every corner of the city, with musical acts, theatre performances, documentary series, discussions and speeches at the New Haven Green, Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery, among other locations.

Things get creative on the New Haven Green.

Things get creative on the New Haven Green.

As an added bonus, visitors will be able to connect to the internet using Comcast’s XFINITY WiFi on Wheels (WOW), a first-of-its-kind mobile internet experience, on the New Haven Green during several events.

The connection is provided by a customized Ford T-350 van outfitted with six WiFi access points. Its connection ranges up to five times faster than regular cellular service and spans more than 500 feet, linking up to 3,000 users.

After all, people will need to stay connected to IFAI social pages to receive the latest updates on events throughout the June celebration showcasing the city and the many internationally renowned artists.

But while we wait for the fun, here is a diverse array of events we think you’d be silly to miss.

Black Girl: Linguistic Play—Thursday, June 15 and Friday, June 16 at 8 p.m.

Award-winning choreographer Camille Brown will bring her rhythmic dance performance to the 640-seat University Theatre. Through social dance, double-dutch, tap and live original music, the performance showcases life as a black girl. The play challenges the audience to consider the personal tale through a black girl’s lens. “It is important for us to talk about human stories on stage, and to tell stories we don’t see enough of,” Brown has said in the past.

Survival of the Fittest: Youth, Guns, and the Culture of Violence—Thursday, June 8 at 5:30 p.m.

High rates of gun violence among younger populations will be discussed at this town-hall event at the New Haven Free Public Library Ives Branch. The free two-hour discussion is provided in partnership between the Arts & Ideas high school fellowship students and the Citywide Youth Coalition. Local hip-hop artist Aaron Jafferis will moderate the discussion as part of “Activate (Be) longing,” a community-building program.

Ideas on Foot: Changing Roles of Downtown—Monday, June 12 at 5:30 p.m.

Postcard New Haven Green, c. 1920s

Those interested in learning more about the rich history of New Haven should visit City Hall on June 12 for deep insight into notable milestones such as the founding of the Knights of Columbus, the historic St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the city’s role in the Amistad incident. The event also heralds the accomplishments of New Haven natives who have shined, like entrepreneurs Sylvester Poli and Maurice Bailey. A limited number of walk-up tickets will be available at the event.

Rap Guide to Climate Chaos—Tuesday, June 13 at 7:15 p.m.

Rapper Baba Brinkman will deliver his one-man hip-hop performance at Center Church on the Green, tackling science, politics and global warming. The humorous performance has earned the Canadian several awards as he continues to connect with modern audiences. His script is fact-checked by NASA climate scientists, as Brinkman performed on Broadway for five months in 2016. The ticketed-event is $10.

The Wailers & Rusted Root—Saturday, June 24 at 7 p.m.

Two renowned reggae and rock ‘n’ roll bands are joining forces to put on a free concert to celebrate the conclusion of the festival on the New Haven Green’s KeyBank Stage. The Wailers Band is credited with popularizing reggae and elevating the genre (along with icons like Bob Marley). Meanwhile, Rusted Root has a lauded history playing alongside groups like Santana, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, The Allman Brothers Band and Dave Matthews Band.

For more information, visit or connect on Facebook.

All photos courtesy of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. 

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