Festival of Fools
Burlington City Arts has proudly produced the Festival of Fools since 2002. The festival is a curated celebration of street performance devoted to community engagement through the celebration of circus arts, music, and comedy for family audiences. In 2023 we brought all of this to life with the support from our presenting sponsor, Community Bank, N.A; pitch sponsors, Leunig’s Bistro & Café, AARP Vermont, von Trapp Brewing, Pet Food Warehouse, Hendrick’s Gin, and Switchback Brewing Company; supporting sponsors Rose Computer Technology Services, Ben & Jerry's, Shrubbly, American Flatbread Burlington Hearth, Red Square, Eyes of the World, and The Friendly Toast; and media sponsors, Seven Days, NBC 5, and The Point Radio.
From August 2 to August 4, 2024 the Festival lands on the Church Street Marketplace for 3 days of free, accessible, and hilarious performances. Visit www.vermontfestivaloffools.com for more information.
Submission Guidelines for the Festival of Fools
Every year Festival of Fools takes place the first weekend in August and features a number of performance acts. A core troupe of in-residence street buskers forms the backbone of our lineup. Buskers from all over the world come to the Festival and perform 40-minute shows multiple times a day.
The Festival also features street and stage musical performances and other special event activations. Our programming door is always wide open as we strive to present the most unique and interesting Festival in the country.
Performers of all types can submit their ideas via email to the Festival and Event Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your website and other relevant links. Videos of performances are particularly helpful.
A three-person creative team that includes the Festival Director, Artistic Director, and Musical Director work together to determine and approve programming.
The programming period is fluid, but generally takes place from September to February.
We encourage applicants with varied talents.
All acts are paid, provided with lodging (if needed), and provided hospitality.
Thank you for your interest in the Festival of Fools!
Highlight New Year's Eve Celebration
BCA and Signal Kitchen partnered in 2018 to produce a new New Year’s Eve celebration for the City of Burlington following 35 successful years for First Night. For Highlight 2022, we’re welcoming revelers from far and wide to celebrate with unique, in-person experiences in downtown Burlington and at the Waterfront. We’ll set the stage for the biggest party of the year as we come together to count down the experiences and ideas that make our community a hub of incredible creativity. Artists, food vendors, musicians, and everyone in between helps build an event that HIGHLIGHTS the best of Burlington, live for one glorious night as we cheers to auld lang syne.
Highlight’s events are designed and built by your friends and neighbors. Through the “Bright Ideas Project,” Highlight crowdsources ideas from Vermonters for all kinds of New Year’s Eve happenings. Through an open call for proposals, we grant funds and support to select ideas that come to life at Highlight.
Highlight’s Bright Ideas Project is proudly Powered By VSECU. VSECU is a member-owned cooperative and not-for-profit credit union for everybody who lives or works in Vermont, offering a full range of affordable financial products and services to its member-owners. VSECU is committed to improving the lives of Vermonters by empowering the possibilities for greater social, environmental, and financial prosperity.
Check out Highlight.Community for more information.
Soak up some summer fun with Splash Dance, BCA’s weekly DJ-fueled dance party in City Hall Park. Kids and parents are invited to suit up and boogie along in the interactive splash pad to some of Vermont’s best DJs.
Summer Concert Series
The BCA Summer Concert Series is an annual celebration of Vermont's incredible roster of local talent. Every Wednesday and Friday throughout the summer, the Summer Concert Series provides a lunchtime concert in City Hall Park, energizing the downtown district with vibrancy while supporting local musicians.
2023 City Hall Park programming was underwritten by the Pomerleau Family Foundation and The WaterWheel Foundation. Media sponsor, Seven Days. The 2023 Summer Concert Series was presented by VSECU with support from American Flatbread Burlington Hearth and City Market, Onion River Co-op.
Since 2012, audiences have enjoyed these intimate, free performances, and musicians love connecting directly with local audiences to expand their fanbases. In 2020, to support musicians during the pandemic, we launched a Summer Concert Video Series, in collaboration with the City’s office of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, to produce high-quality videos for each performer. And now audiences can relive the magic of our 2020 and 2021 performances all year round!
Catch a concert on the lawn as the sun sets on City Hall Park, every alternating Friday and Saturday. The lineup includes regional luminaries spanning the full spectrum of genres. Relive the 2022 Twilight Series through our concert videos.
Expanding on our beloved Artist Market, this outdoor market experience in the heart of downtown Burlington, debuted 2022. Presented by Burlington City Arts and Love Burlington, the BTV Market runs every Saturday from June to October in City Hall Park. Come cross paths with an eclectic collection of local artists and makers. Live music, games, and kids activities make for festive fun while you stroll amongst vendors and neighbors. With wares, artwork, and food representing all of Burlington's many communities, this new market brings the best of BTV together all summer long!
2023 City Hall Park programming was underwritten by the Pomerleau Family Foundation and The WaterWheel Foundation. Media sponsor, Seven Days. The 2023 BTV Market had support from Lake Champlain Chocolates and Kiss the Cook.
Start your Sunday on a high note as BCA premieres an exciting new partnership with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Green Mountain Chamber Orchestra. The state’s top classical players pair the summer breeze with an hour of musical vibrancy and relaxation every weekend.
BCA and Love Burlington join forces to present the BTV Winter Market! Building on the 20+ years of BCA's Holiday Artist Market and the Love Burlington Winter Market, this European-style outdoor market will make for a magical month-long experience featuring a rotating group of 20 local artists, makers, and food vendors in a festive atmosphere that will capture the spirit of the season in City Hall Park.
With both seasoned makers with emerging local vendors, The BTV Winter Market will support a wide spectrum of local artists while creating a vibrant, joyful space for our community to gather and celebrate the most wonderful time of year.