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The Festival of Ideas

What makes a city? That’s question proffered by The New Museum’s Festival of Ideas, a five-day-long street fest/symposium on new ideas for “the new city.” This is going to be unlike any other street festival you’ve been to before. Clear your mind of images of those white polyvinyl booth where bleary-eyed hipsters and mellowed-out Earth moms hawk handmade hacky sacks and herbal remedies.

Backed by The New Museum, with a keynote address delivered by Rem Koolhaas to kick things off, the Festival of Ideas is legit. Yes, booths shall abound, scattered throughout the Lower East Side, but aside from the wide array of delicious food vendors, you won’t find anyone selling necklaces or pots or anything with a bird on it. The Cabinet Magazine booth, for instance, is hosting “brief, informal one-on-one conversations with leading scholars and writers about their particular fields of expertise.” There are practical booths, like ArtHome, who’s providing “homebuyer training and foreclosure prevention workshops for artists, independent workers and low-to-moderate income New Yorkers.” But fear not, it’s not a completely cranial-centric affair. There’s lots of fun stuff (just check out the teaser trailer) to balance out the more straight-faced talks and panel discussions, like BIKE BOX, “an iPhone app that lets you tag the city with audio graffiti while you ride your bike, or hands on workshops with ReadyMade Magazine and a silk screen class with Works in Progress NYC. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of events to choose from, and they’re all free. See how many you can make it to in five days.

Festival of Ideas runs from May 4 – 8, 2011. Plan your visit.