Summer is theater festival season nearly all around the world. Theater festivals are a great way to celebrate up-and-coming productions tailored to your tastes and schedule for a cheap price. Here is a list of some of the best ones taking place in New York City–


NYMF (New York Musical Theater Festival) started July 7 and runs through July 27th. That’s three weeks of staged musicals! Most of these shows are quite well-developed and all are fully staged (lots of bang for your buck), plus their subject matter ranges from the quirky to the tragic to the sci-fi to the political to the outright insane.  NYMF also has an excellent track record in its ten years: 3 shows have transferred to Broadway, 24 to Off-Broadway, and several award-winners rank in its alumni.

The New Ohio Theater’s Ice Factory Festival is also a staple of NYC summer theater. Its lineup is a bit more experimental than others but just as fascinating: dystopic futures, spiritualist sisters, genius mathematicians galore. Last week’s work, Too Many Lenas 3 made headlines for its Lena Dunham coven striving towards relatability.

LGBT theater lovers have much to celebrate in NYC this summer. The Fresh Fruit Festival (July 7-20) has a fantastic lineup of plays, musical, art exhibitions, dance, film, readings and more! and they’re all worth a look. Ones that stick out to us are JUST HIT ME, about a cross-dressing opera diva making a claim on an elderly lover’s estate, and THE CONVERSION OF ALICE B. TOKLAS, about Gertrude Stein’s lover who converted to Catholicism at age 93.

Also celebrating queer identity is the 23rd Annual HOT! Festival (July 5-August 2). Their 2014 lineup feature theater, comedy, puppetry, burlesque, and all sorts of innovative works with names like Dandy Darkly’s Pussy Panic! and Michael Jackson was Innocent and I Didn’t Kill JonBenet Ramsey…But I Was There The Night She Died

The Brick Theater in Williamsburg offers its one-of-a-kind annual Game Play Festival from July 10- August 2. The lineup is a multimedia technologically playful lovefest featuring works inspired by games and gaming for the gamenerd in us all. In September, Brick also hosts The New York Clown Festival, which just sounds awesome.

59E59 loves bringing theater to NYC from across the pond, and with the East to Edinburgh festival, they snap up some of the highlights of the acclaimed and edgy Edinburgh Fringe Festival before they move to Scotland in August. The festival runs from July 10- July 29 and saves us a thousand dollars in airfare.

Midtown International Theater Festival begins next week and runs through early August. MITF celebrates theatrical diversity (which is clear by its wonderfully eclectic 2014 lineup) and has been in business for 15 years. Catch some of their unique plays and musicals this summer!

The New York International Fringe Festival starts August 8th and it’s a pretty big deal. It’s HUGE lineup feels like an overwhelming trek through every kind of theater ever (we’ve already skimmed through and made our to-do list) but it’s totally worth a poring over. 

For the more classically-minded, there’s the Lincoln Center Festivalbring works from all around the world to midtown. Opera and ballet are the name of the game here, though you can also catch Japanese kabuki and The Maids with Cate Blanchett.