Howl! Festival

Presented by Howl Arts, Inc.

Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel! —ALLEN GINSBERG


Named Best Outdoor Festival by the Village Voice

For more than a century, the East Village has been home to poets, jazz musicians, Vaudeville and Yiddish theatre, artists, rock stars, performance artists and diverse ethnic communities that have added their rich cultural heritage to the mix. Building on this tradition and inspired by long time East Village resident Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, HOWL! Festival was founded in 2003 to lionize, preserve, and advance the art, history, culture, and counterculture unique to the East Village and Lower East Side.

For more than ten years, the spirit of Allen Ginsberg has come alive in Tompkins Square Park as more than 350 artists, poets, and performers, including youthful new talent, light up the Main and Kid’s Stages and transform the Park into a participatory artwork infused with the creative energy, flamboyance, and panache that’s the hallmark of the East Village.

A destination event embraced by the media and the public, close to 100,000 revelers, parents, kids, artists, and community members have participated in the Festival. A three-ring circus of creativity, HOWL! Festival is entirely FREE. Free admission. Free games, art, and entertainment. Free access to the artistry of your friends and neighbors. Free spirits performing on the Main Stage. Freedom to indulge the senses and imagination in the poetry, legacy and contemporary cultural landscape of the Lower East Side.

Our heads are round so thought can change direction. — ALLEN GINSBERG


Named the Village Voice’s Best Outdoor Festival 2011, HOWL! Festival is the quintessential community event celebrating the history of the East Village and Lower East Side. Beginning with the signature group reading of Howl, the Festival’s talented performers—young and old—dig deeper into Allen Ginberg’s legacy and mischievous sense of fun to celebrate freewheeling bohemia and creativity in poetry, music, dance, art, and an extravagant program of funhouse activities, rides, games and art for families and kids.

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The Great HOWL! Out Loud Kid’s Carnival

Carnival games, fairway attractions like miniature golf and a wacky pint-sized railway; arts and crafts activities including origami, face painting, mask-making, and the gigantic Kids Around Park group mural for budding Warhols and Kiki Smiths; story-telling and more are offered free to the community. Continuous entertainment by and for kids on the Kids Stage has featured performers ranging from Rosie’s Theater Kids, Tap City, Honeybee House, and the crazy Tri-Battery Pops to critically acclaimed young talents like teenage heartthrob Jack Skuller whose catchy, energetic old style rock’n’roll songs charmed everyone from babies to grampas in 2012.

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Art Around the Park

For this live action weekend-long event more than 140 artists of all ages turn the 8 foot by 900 foot long blank canvas encircling the exterior of the Park into an enormous outdoor gallery. An explosion of color and creativity, Art Around the Park connects Festival-goers with working artists and encourages dialogue and exchange. Go ahead! Curate, Critique, Kibbutz!

Poetry and Spoken Word Performances

Group Reading of HOWL!

Orchestrated by Bob Holman, acclaimed poet laureate of the East Village, a multi-generational “Greek Chorus” of poetic voices launch each Festival and proclaim Ginsberg’s poem on the Main Stage. In addition, Soap Box Poets enliven the festivities with continuous spoken word performances throughout the Park. 

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Music, Theater, Dance, and other Outrageous Performances

From the ridiculous to the sublime, wide-ranging solo and group performances by contemporary dancers, bands and musicians of all stripes, and theatrical artists light up the Main Stage—delivering non-stop theater, dance, spoken word and more drag queens than you can shake a stick at and culminating Saturday and Sunday in two signature events, including Low Life, a two-hour spectacular inspired by the neighborhood’s long creative history.

Low Life is produced by East Village based performance/club collective The Jackie Factory and its entertaining masterminds Chi Chi Valenti and Johnny Dynell. Low Life was inspired by Luc Sante’s seminal book Low Life: The Lures and Snares of Old New York. Past editions have lauded East Village and Lower East Side movements and icons including Beat Girls; 1980’s drag pioneers; the Bowery as birthplace to vaudeville and burlesque; and the Warhol era Flaming Creatures. Show participants have ranged from East Village icons to emerging companies including Joey Arias, Julie Atlas Muz, Dean Johnson, Dirty Martini, Basil Twist, Vangeline Theater, Brandon Olson and The NYC School Of Burlesque.

Everybody’s serious but me. — ALLEN GINSBERG


July 27, 2024
Howl! Arts/Howl! Archive
HelenOliver Edgar Wine INC 20 0059 image
July 11 – August 11, 2024
Howl! Happening
July 6 – August 4, 2024
Howl! Arts/Howl! Archive
2 Paintings by Helen
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