The 18th Biennial

International Black Theatre Festival

The International Black Theatre Festival rolls out the purple carpet July 29 - Aug. 3, 2024.

IBTF logo

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The world's most MARVTASTIC festival returns to Winston-Salem in 2024 with a new name and new look. Known for decades as the National Black Theatre Festival, the recently rebranded International Black Theatre Festival (IBTF) is set for July 29 - Aug. 3, 2024.

Held every two years in the summer months, the six-day festival will transform Winston-Salem into a mega-performing arts center with more than 100 performances on multiple stages. Theatre workshops, films, seminars, poetry slams, and a star-studded celebrity gala complement the performances, helping create one of America's biggest and best theatre festivals- also known as "Black Theatre Holy Ground"

Aside from dozens of theatrical performances, the festival features a star-studded array of complementary events. This includes Youth Talent Showcase, International Colloquium, TeenTastic celebration, Midnight Poetry Jam, IBTF Film Fest, and the International Vendor's Market — which features vendors and crafts from every corner of the globe and live entertainment to add a little flair to your shopping experience. 


Where to Stay - The headquarter hotel is the Marriott in Downtown Winston-Salem, conveniently connected to the Benton Convention Center. Call 1-888-236-2427 and ask for the International Black Theatre Festival block. We highly recommend booking your hotel as soon as possible; the festival is so popular, the nearby hotels often fill up months in advance.

A number of hotels in Winston-Salem offer special rates, bonus perks, and complimentary shuttle service for festivalgoers. To see a list of participating partner hotels, CLICK HEREOr, to view all local lodging options, click here.

Festival Schedule - Head to the NC Black Repertory Company website for all the fabulous details on performances, workshops, galas, and other events here!

Know Before You Go - Our 2024 IBTF Preview has what you need to know before heading to the festival, from new features and highlights to the shows you won't want to miss. Check it out here

Purchasing Tickets - Tickets are on sale now! They can be purchased online at the IBTF website, or by calling the festival box office at 336-723-7907 and picked up at the Benton Convention Center.

Getting Around - Treat yourself like a VIP and plan to ride the free shuttle, available from various locations downtown and selected hotels to get to the productions.

Late Night - Each night after the plays, social gatherings are held all over the city. Downtown streets and sidewalk cafes are filled with people and music. Celebrity receptions and jazz performances are held at the host hotel, and the Midnight Poetry Jam is a major attraction with overflow crowds. 

Make Time - In addition to the performances, enjoy the myriad of cultural offerings in Winston-Salem. Such offerings include the vibrant downtown Arts District, historic explorations around Old Salem Museums & Gardens and Reynolda House Museum of American Art, diving into the Winston-Salem State University campus at the Delta Arts Center and Diggs Gallery, and so much more.

International Black Theatre Festival photos


Founded by the late Larry Leon Hamlin, the International Black Theatre Festival is a biennial event uniting Black theatre companies from around the world and ensuring the presence of this phenomenal genre. With the support of Dr. Maya Angelou, who served as the festival's first chairperson, the National Black Theatre Festival began with a bang in 1989.  According to The New York Times, "The inaugural National Black Theatre Festival was one of the most historic and culturally significant events in the history of black theatre and American theatre in general." Hamlin himself described the inaugural event as only he could — "MARVTASTIC" — a term that continues to define the festival today.

Larry Leon HamlinIn the years that followed, Winston-Salem's identity would be reshaped by the festival, as the city became known as "Black Theatre Holy Ground." For six days every other year, Winston-Salem became the center of the theatre universe, drawing more than 65,000 purple-clad theatre-lovers to town (a nod to Hamlin's favorite color). In addition to generating international acclaim, the festival has contributed more than $200 million to the local economy while bringing world-class theatre acts to town — just as Hamlin intended.

And while Hamlin was instrumental in growing the festival, it was his trailblazing wife, Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, who kept it going strong after his death in 2007, serving as the event's executive producer until her own death in 2022. The Hamlins' shared legacy now lives on in a festival that is equal parts welcoming, joyful, captivating, and fun. Their likeness also inspired the newly released logo for IBTF, as their profiles — melded together as one — are visible within the purple shield emblem.

The logo is also used by the festival's host organization, the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (aka, NC Black Rep), a groundbreaking performing arts organization Hamlin founded a decade before the National Black Theatre Festival. As the state's first professional Black theater company, NC Black Rep is committed to introducing diverse audiences to Black classics, the development and production of new works, improving artistic quality, and sustaining Black theatre internationally.

NC Black Rep new logoIn addition to hosting the International Black Theatre Festival, NC Black Rep presents several productions annually featuring members of its ensemble or through collaborations with other theatre companies from around the country. The annual MLK Jr. Birthday Celebration and the holiday presentation of "Nativity According to the Gospels" (inspired by Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity") have become two of the company's staples. For more on the organization's 2023-24 performances or to purchase tickets to upcoming shows, go to