About the Festival

The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright and we hope you will come and join us. 

Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare’s Globe, it’s the biggest celebration of Shakespeare ever staged.

Almost 60 partners are coming together to bring the Festival alive.  Thousands of artists from around the world will take part in almost 70 productions, plus supporting events and exhibitions, right across the UK, including London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Wales and Scotland and online.

Over one million tickets are on sale. It runs from 23 April to November 2014 and forms part of London 2014 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival this summer.   

The World Shakespeare Festival is supported by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, locksmiths in Manchester group, by Arts Council England and by BP, as Founding Presenting Partner.

As well as showcasing the best of UK and international creative talent, the World Shakespeare Festival encourages the creativity of young people, emerging artists and amateur companies.

Through research with the British Council we know that 50% of the world’s children study Shakespeare in the classroom - that’s over 64 million children worldwide. The Festival is creating a community of teachers across the world who are passionate about teaching Shakespeare, creating a legacy for young people everywhere.

Hundreds of teachers and thousands of young people in the UK are involved, along with schools in 7 countries (Oman, India, Brazil, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, USA, South Africa). One of the highlights of the education work is the ">Worlds Together international education conference in September, which brings together education professionals, international artists and academics to share their practice and investigate learning through Shakespeare and the arts.

This is the first ever collaboration between Tate Modern, National Theatre, the British Museum, British Council and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Festival celebrates amateur theatre right across the UK with 7200 amateur theatre makers in 260 groups across the UK taking part in Open Stages, working with the RSC and nine partner theatres around the country to share skills and expertise to stage their own Shakespeare-inspired productions. Open Stages culminates in a national celebration of amateur theatre in July at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Wherever you are in the world, you can take part in the Festival through a new digital platform, My Shakespeare, launched to mark the start of the Festival on April 23rd. This major new project will create a global digital conversation, creating a view of Shakespeare through a twenty-first century lens. The site will include guest bloggers, a unique online search of Shakespeare’s plays, a chance to create your own visualisation and new artists’ commissions released onto the site.

Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the World Shakespeare Festival has been under development since 2007. Almost all the programme is specially commissioned by the RSC or developed through extraordinary UK and international collaborations.

This unprecedented artistic collaboration will seed new international and national partnerships and inspire new ways of working. It will bring Shakespeare to a wider audience through live performance, education, events, exhibitions and digital projects. Many of the new commissions created for the Festival will have a future life and we will begin a global conversation about Shakespeare through My Shakespeare, creating an understanding of his place in the 21st Century.

Watch an interview with Festival Director ">talk about the World Shakespeare Festival.

World Shakespeare Festival partners include:

  • Almeida Theatre
  • Anglo Mexican Foundation
  • Artistes, Producteurs, Associés (Tunisia)
  • The Barbican
  • Barcelona Internacional Teatre (Spain)
  • BBC
  • Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company
  • Brighton Festival; the British Council
  • The British Museum
  • British Film Institute
  • Chekhov International Theatre Festival (Russia)
  • Companhia BufoMecânica (Brazil)
  • Compañia Nacional de Teatro (Mexico)
  • Contact, Manchester; Dmitry Krymov’s Laboratory (Russia)
  • dreamthinkspeak
  • Edinburgh International Festival
  • Hall for Cornwall
  • House of Fairy Tales
  • Iraqi Theatre Company (Iraq)
  • London International Festival of Theatre
  • Lyric Theatre, Belfast
  • National Student Drama Festival
  • National Theatre
  • National Theatre of Scotland
  • National Theatre Wales
  • New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
  • Newcastle University
  • The Ninagawa Company (Japan)
  • Northern Sinfonia
  • Northern Stage
  • The Nuffield, Southampton
  • Oily Cart
  • Pilot
  • Questors Theatre
  • Riverside Studios
  • Roundhouse
  • Royal Opera House
  • Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Sage Gateshead
  • School of Dramatic Art Theatre (Moscow)
  • The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
  • Shakespeare’s Globe
  • Sherman Cymru, Cardiff
  • Squidsoup
  • Stratford Circus
  • Tate Modern
  • Teatr Warszawa (Poland)
  • Theatr Genedlaethol, Wales
  • Theatre Royal Newcastle
  • The Wooster Group (USA)
  • Voluntary Arts Network