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Top 10 Summer Theaters

Catch the season's best shows, from musical premieres to world-class Shakespeare productions.

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Avignon Theatre Festival in front of Palais des Papes, France

From the National Geographic book Four Seasons of Travel

Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario, Canada
The largest classical repertory theater in North America stages productions on a thrust stage where the finest Shakespearean actors perform the bard’s great comedies and tragedies. Open April to October.

New York Musical Theatre Festival, New York, New York
Each July, dozens of original musicals premiere at this festival, held in the heart of New York City’s theater district. Many of the event’s new musicals go on to successful Broadway or off-Broadway runs, including the Tony Award–winning Next to Normal.

Festival Internacional de Teatro, Caracas, Venezuela (use your translator)
America has brought together scores of performance companies from around the world to act in Venezuela’s capital. Performers take to the streets, plazas, and theater venues throughout the city for two weeks each April to stage classics such as Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, and Dante’s Inferno.

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland
Founded soon after the end of World War II, Edinburgh’s annual August fest ranks as one of the leading arts celebrations in the world. Theater productions range from Electra to a modern-day retelling of Macbeth. Visit the festival headquarters in the Hub, an iconic city landmark whose spire dominates the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.

Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, London, England
Vivien Leigh and Judi Dench both trod the boards of this London landmark, the oldest permanent outdoor theater in Britain. More than 130,000 spectators attend each season’s four productions between May and September. Bring a hamper and sip Pimm’s on the picnic lawn while enjoying the theater’s signature piece, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Festival d’Avignon, Avignon, France
At least one new show opens every night at this festival in the south of France. Every July, Avignon becomes a “city-theater,” with 20-odd historical venues transformed into performance spaces. The heart is the Cour d’Honneur, the main courtyard of the Pope’s Palace, where spectators gather for performances during the Provençal summer nights.

Zürcher Theater Spektakel, Zurich, Switzerland
Dozens of independent theater companies put on cutting-edge productions each August in one of Europe’s most important contemporary performing arts festivals. Performances take place in the parklike Landiwiese on Lake Zurich, where venues include an open-air stage and a shipyard for creative staging possibilities.

National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa
Bundle up for performances at Africa’s largest cultural event, held in June and July in South Africa’s eastern Cape region. The children’s arts festival offers drama workshops for kids ages 4–13, while street theater productions carry the festival spirit throughout the city.

Iida Puppet Festa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Known as the “city of puppet shows,” Iida, located between Tokyo and Nagoya, hosts the largest puppetry festival in Japan every August. Some 150 troupes perform shows ranging from traditional Bunraku puppetry to modern acts in dozens of sites throughout the city, from Puppetry Hall to the grounds of parks and shrines.

Perth International Arts Festival, Perth, Australia
Each year, Perth celebrates the oldest annual, international, multiarts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Founded in 1953, the three-week-long celebration includes the National Play Festival, which showcases new plays written and performed by Australia’s finest theater artists. Venues include His Majesty’s Theatre, the only working Edwardian theater in Australia.

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