THE annual York International Shakespeare Festival returns to the city for its sixth year with an itinerary to provide ‘much ado’.

Featuring powerful performances, talks delivered by internationally recognised academics, and public events, this year’s festival gears up to bring the world’s best-known playwright to York in a variety of different ways.


First established in 2014, York International Shakespeare Festival (YISF) seeks to showcase both local and international adaptations of Shakespeare’s work and make his work more accessible for a variety of audiences.

Originally beginning as a collaboration between Parrabbola, York Theatre Royal, and the University of York, YISF has since expanded to include multiple local establishments from the National Centre for Early Music to the York Shakespeare Project, giving the festival a distinctively York voice.

York Press: Shakespeare's Songs from the York Shakespeare ProjectShakespeare's Songs from the York Shakespeare Project (Image: Provided)

Opening the festival on April 18 is the world premiere of the European Shakespeare Festivals Network ShakeSphere Award Winner 2024 – Hamlet: Double Bill with theatre group La Ribalta Teatro travelling from their usual base in Italy to entertain the Yorkshire crowds.

The festival also boasts a second premiere with French performers Footsbarn Theatre’s new production of Twelfth Night, returning to the UK after a 15 year absence to close the proceedings on April 28.

Other highlights include Debra Ann Byrd’s solo show Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey, all the way from the United States, and first readings of English translations of Shakespeare inspired plays from Bulgaria and Turkey.

York Press: La Ribalta TeatroLa Ribalta Teatro (Image: Provided)

YISF is partnered with York St John University, which provides the festival with its principal home of the university’s Creative Centre, but other festival partners include York Theatre Royal, York Explore Central Library, York Shakespeare Project, Grand Opera House York, Theatre @41, Riding Lights Theatre Company, rise @ Bluebird Bakery, alongside other local volunteers.

Festival director Philip Parr said: “In our fast-changing world, the plays of Shakespeare provide a shared body of work, which explores essential values, and which is capable of infinite reinvention.

"They create a space in which we can exchange ideas, explore our differences, and find our common ground. We’re excited to be creating such a space in York.”

York Press: Hoglets Spooky Shakespeare Suitcase Theatre (York)Hoglets Spooky Shakespeare Suitcase Theatre (York) (Image: Provided)

In addition to theatre, fans of the literature itself will be spoilt for choice with a series of talks and lectures throughout the festival by Shakespearean academics.

There are also a number of free or affordable events aimed at the local community to help young people and families get involved and enjoy Shakespeare.

Tickets and full programme details are now available at