Music and books and politics, oh my! Welcome back to The New Yorker Festival

From left: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Amy Schumer
From left: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (photo by Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images); Amy Schumer (photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images).

Grab your limited edition tote bag because the The New Yorker Festival is back, baby. Founded in 1999, the long-running festival gives attendees a chance to hobnob with the best and brightest minds of the culture.

The multi-day event went virtual in 2020 and returns this year from October 4-10 with a mix of digital and IRL experiences. Including a just-announced concert with Billie Eilish and her dreamy pop stylings. If Eilish isn’t your particular ish, there’s also Dave Grohl, Aimee Mann, a drive-in movie screening and tons of panels. Topics include climate action, women cartoonists and race in America.

Festival organizers are striking a Covid-cautious note this year with proof of vaccination required for all in-person, outdoor events. Virtual attendees can get an all-access pass for $69, which includes livestreams of all IRL events — with the notable exception of the screening of “The Humans,” Stephen Karam’s debut film. Only residents of the five boroughs have the option of purchasing tickets to the festival’s “Dining In” series, featuring curated menus from NYC chefs paired with on-demand conversations between the chefs and food writer Helen Rosner.

Legacy media institutions like The New Yorker have moved to digital and hybrid events…

After years of resistance — as a consequence of the pandemic. Although there are no public numbers on attendee demographics, its readership has traditionally skewed older, educated and left of center. In its latest media kit, The New Yorker says that 43 percent of new readers are Gen-Z. But will Zoomers pay $19 to stream Billie Eilish when they can pay “just” hundreds to see her IRL at Lolla or ACL?

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The festival chose live music startup Headliner as its virtual platform, when most of the festival events will be talking heads. It’s an interesting choice, given that Headiner’s focus is connecting musical artists with fans — “like watching a music video happen live.” That’s not to say we wouldn’t watch a live music video of Jonathan Franzen, Viet Thanh Nguyen or Stanley Tucci because we totally would. The New Yorker Festival will be an interesting test case about the financial effects of going hybrid versus IRL. Presumably, there will be more attendees streaming content from all over the world or watching on-demand.

On that note, here are a few New Yorker Festival events we’re looking forward to: 

Dining In (NYC only)

First, from an XP perspective, an interactive dinner with friends or lovers from the comfort of your own home is certainly peak pandemic. Note, meals run $50 per person not including a service fee.

The Matter of Black Lives

This panel on race in America features Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Jamaica Kincaid and is moderated by Jelani Cobb. With The New Yorker facing scrutiny for racial equality within its own ranks, this should be an eye-opening conversation.

Emily Ratajkowski & Amy Schumer

Ratajkowski writes about owning her own image as a model and actress. Additionally, Amy Schumer posts very publicly about her experiences with pregnancy and endometriosis. Hopefully this intimate chat will be as no-holds-barred as the pairing suggests.

Patricia Lockwood

Finally, if you follow Lockwood on Twitter, you know that this is can’t-miss festival fodder. Maybe Miette will make an appearance. Fingers crossed.

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