6 Fun Festivals Celebrating The Arts

Art can bring people together through the shared appreciation of creative expression or the representation of various cultures. Festivals provide a unique opportunity for artists to directly interact with fans from all walks of life. In no particular order, here are some entertaining festivals making art more accessible to the masses.

First up, at #1, we have the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. Founded in 1996, it aims to bring together world-class creators and thinkers from around the globe, and to showcase the city of New Haven as a major art destination, attracting and engaging a diverse audience.

The Festival's High School Fellowship Program offers qualified New Haven public school sophomores and juniors a unique opportunity to learn about the arts. The semester-long course is designed to develop students' skills in communication and critical thinking by immersing them in all aspects of the Festival, including performances, lectures, community engagement, production, and management.

Coming in at #2 is the Bradenton Blues Festival. Held in the titular west Florida city, it showcases some of the most talented local and international musicians of the genre. It is produced by Realize Bradenton, a non-profit organization that aims to promote economic growth and create a vibrant and prosperous downtown area for residents, visitors, and businesses.

In addition to fostering a healthy business climate, enriching the community is another goal of the annual event. Proceeds are directed back into the community to support programs such as Blues in the Schools, where musicians share their stories in order to inspire students and emphasize the importance of education.

Next up, at #3, we have Telling Tales, an Ontario-based festival and year-round campaign dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of literacy, while inspiring a love for reading. Throughout the year, it works with local community programs and organizations to bring authors and children together for fun and engaging events.

The Telling Tales Main Event celebrates the work of homegrown Canadian authors, illustrators, and storytellers, and gives them the opportunity to connect with fans and new audiences through performances and workshops tailored to different ages and interests. The event is usually held at Rockton's Westfield Heritage Village, a 130-hectare site that is bordered by woodlands, meadows, and trails.

Taking the #4 spot is the Guilford Performing Arts Festival. With the aim of engaging the community with a multi-day event featuring a variety of performing art forms, it was founded in 2017 by conductor and orchestral music director William Boughton. Among its goals are to enliven the Connecticut shoreline, illuminate social causes, and encourage the creation of new work by the state's creative talent.

During the event, performances and workshops take place in a wide variety of venues, including churches, dance studios, bookstores, and other local businesses. The Artists' Awards program works to support the livelihoods of Connecticut's performing artists, and provide a vehicle for the debut of new, original works at the Festival.

Next, at #5, is Toronto's Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Each year, the event showcases lens-based projects by Canadian and international artists. Its Core Exhibitions are comprised of collaborations with major museums, leading galleries, artist-run centers, and site-specific public projects that frame the cultural, social, and political events of our times.

The Festival is free and open to the public, with some exceptions at major museums. Its programs include photo-book initiatives, lectures, artist talks, panel discussions, and workshops. Featured exhibitions, which are selected through a juried submission process, also benefit from promotion and coverage through CONTACT's extensive public relations initiatives, drawing significant attention to the artists and venues involved.

Finally, at #6, we have The Princeton Festival. This New Jersey event features nationally-renowned professional artists, and partners with other organizations to create distinctive and diverse programs that enrich the communities it serves. Since 2005, its annual season has offered a wide variety of performances, including fully-staged operas, musical theater, and symphonic concerts.

It further engages the community through Meet the Artists receptions after most performances, as well as through outreach programs extended to a number of under-served groups. Each year, the Princeton Festival Piano Competition attracts over 100 young artists from the Tri-State area, awarding certificates and cash prizes to the winner of each category.