Lincoln Center Festival

One of the city’s most thrilling multi-arts events, Lincoln Center Festival offers stunning plays, dance, operas and visual art from around the world

One of the city’s most thrilling multi-arts events, Lincoln Center Festival offers stunning plays, dance, operas and visual art from around the world. There’s no shortage of arts festivals in New York each summer. But they tend to be niche affairs, catering to Off-Off theater fans (the Fringe Festival), outdoor concertgoers (SummerStage) or classical-music buffs (Mostly Mozart).

Lincoln Center Festival is different: Spanning nations and artistic disciplines, it brings a wealth of top-notch work to various stages each July and August. Ace curator Nigel Redden and his producers rack up frequent-flier miles trekking across the globe to discover live acts to thrill local culture vultures.

Tickets can be expensive and go fast, but unless you want to break the bank on airfare and hotels, the festival is a great way to see music, dance, theater and opera from around the world—without leaving home. Where else but in New York can you see the National Ballet of China dance pirouettes one night and Druid Theatre Company give a Celtic spin to Shakespeare the next?

When is Lincoln Center Festival?
Lincoln Center Festival runs from Monday July 6 2015 to Sunday August 2 2015.

Theater events

DruidShakespeare: The History Plays

In previous summers, the Galway-based Irish troupe has presented marathon retrospectives of writers John Millington Synge and Tom Murphy. Now they take on the Bard in this version of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V. Expect a Celtic twist on Shakespeare's so-called Henriad. Verse dramatist Mark O'Rowe does the adaptation, and Garry Hynes directs.

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Gerald W. Lynch Theater (at John Jay College) Tuesday July 7 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Ubu Roi

Alfred Jarry's 1896 outrage begins with the cry, "Shit!" and gets crazier from there. British director Declan Donnellan and designer Nick Ormerod take on the proto-Absurdist classic in the original (scatological) French. The story—borrowing motifs from Macbeth and Hamlet—concerns a king's rampage against the Polish royal family, the Russians and, eventually, his own people.

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Gerald W. Lynch Theater (at John Jay College) Wednesday July 22 2015 - Sunday July 26 2015

Kafka on the Shore

Acclaimed Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa returns to New York with his staging of the 2002 Haruki Murakami novel (adapted by Frank Galati). Two storylines intertwine: that of a teenage Franz Kafka fleeing an "Oedipal curse" at home, and a retired man who has an uncanny ability to find lost cats. Myth, banal reality and magical realism collide in fascinating ways.

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David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center) Thursday July 23 2015 - Sunday July 26 2015


Russian writer-director Rezo Gabriadze returns to Lincoln Center Festival with a family-friendly puppet drama billed as "a tragic tale of two trains in love." At a rural train station, a small locomotive that can only go 300 yards at a time waits for her true love. For those enchanted by low-tech spectacle, handcrafted objects and whimsical storytelling, note that this one is not just for kids.

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Clark Studio Theater, Rose Building (at Lincoln Center) Monday July 27 2015 - Saturday August 1 2015

Miss Julie

German director Thomas Ostermeier—always good for a smart, provocative update of a classic—applies his modern sensibility to Strindberg's fraught 1888 tale of sex and class. The production by Russia's Theatre of Nations features Evgeny Mironov, Chulpan Khamatova and Julia Peresild.

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New York City Center Monday July 27 2015 - Sunday August 2 2015

Dance events

The Peony Pavilion

Critics' pick

Lincoln Center Festival hosts the National Ballet of China, formed in 1959 and led by Feng Ying. The first of the company's two offerings is The Peony Pavilion, choreographed by Fei Bo in 2008, which melds ballet with traditional Chinese opera and folk dance to tell a love story about a young woman who dreams of meeting a scholar. 

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David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center) Wednesday July 8 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

The Red Detachment of Women

Critics' pick

A farmer's daughter joins the Communist revolution as a soldier in the second of National Ballet of China's two productions at Lincoln Center Festival, a 1964 work with choreography by Li Chenxiang, Jiang Zuhui and Wang Xixian. Popular during the Mao era, it is famous as the ballet performed for Richard Nixon on his groundbreaking 1972 visit to Beijing.

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David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center) Wednesday July 8 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Classical events

Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton

Composer Danny Elfman has written many tunes that are now a permanent part of our collective cultural conscience, like the theme songs for The Simpsons, the Batman animated series theme and Pee-wee’s Playhouse. He’s also worked on many films with iconic filmmaker Tim Burton—hear his infectious score, from The Nightmare Before Christmas to Beetlejuice, live onstage featuring a full orchestra and choir. Don’t forget to dress up as your favorite character!

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Avery Fisher Hall (at Lincoln Center) Monday July 6 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Messiaen and Dvořák

Lincoln Center Festival. For this evening's bill, the Cleveland Orchestra presents Messiaen's defining work, Chronochromie, with Dvorak's nostalgiac Symphony No. 5. Messaien's Hymn opens the evening.

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Avery Fisher Hall (at Lincoln Center) Thursday July 16 2015

Beethoven & Strauss

Lincoln Center Festival. The Cleveland Orchestra presents a pairing of Beethoven's iconic Pastorale and the lesser known Strauss composition Symphonica domestica.

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Avery Fisher Hall (at Lincoln Center) Friday July 17 2015

Daphne Opera-in-concert

Lincoln Center Festival. The story of Daphne, whose father turned her into a tree to save her from the advances of Apollo, is told in Strauss's symphonic setting by the Cleveland Orchestra.

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Avery Fisher Hall (at Lincoln Center) Wednesday July 15 2015 - Saturday July 18 2015

Harry Partch: Bitter Music

Lincoln Center Festival. Composer, vocalist and sound poet David Moss discusses Harry Partch's Delusion of the Fury in anticipation of this performance.

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New York City Center Thursday July 23 2015