While festivals such as TIFF, Sundance, Cannes, and Tribeca have provided film buffs with celebrations of the industry for years, television enthusiasts used to have limited options for events that solely celebrate TV. But in recent years, TV festivals have become more popular for a variety of reasons, including the peak of prestige television that rivals the quality of films, weekly social-media engagement surrounding popular series, the recent influx of TV show revivals, and the ever-increasing number of original scripted shows released by streaming services such as Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix.
As the TV festival trend continues to evolve, here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy events focused on the small screen.
Tribeca TV Festival
The newest event to enter the TV festival fold was announced by Tribeca Enterprises—the media company behind the Tribeca Film Festival—earlier this month. The inaugural event, which will take place September 22 to 24 at Cinepolis Chelsea in New York, will offer advanced screenings of series premieres for shows including At Home With Amy Sedaris and Ten Days in the Valley, along with premiere screenings of returning series such as Gotham, Queen Sugar, and Better Things. Exclusive panels will include the cast of Will & Grace, which is slated to return to NBC with new episodes on September 28.
New York magazine’s pop-culture fest held its fourth edition in May, offering a slew of cast and creator panels, one-on-one conversations with high-profile actors like Aziz Ansari and Connie Britton, and out-of-the-box festival events, including an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt wine tasting, a Playing House pajama brunch, and an AT&T Vulture Lounge that featured a variety of sponsor activations. This fall, the festival will expand to the West Coast with its first Los Angeles edition, slated to take place November 18 to 19 at the Hollywood Roosevelt.
The Paley Center for Media's New York and Los Angeles locations host annual festivals with panels comprised of the casts and creators of popular television shows. The 34th annual festival in Los Angeles took place at the Dolby Theatre in March, and included panels for popular shows such as Scandal, Westworld, and Orphan Black. The Los Angeles location will also host the 11th annual PaleyFest Fall TV Previews from September 6 to 16, with panel discussions from networks including Showtime, the CW, Netflix, and Hulu. In New York, the next edition of the festival will take place October 6 to 16 and will feature events with the stars and creators of Family Guy, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, and Star Trek: Discovery.
Presented by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the annual international event provides attendees with a look at the latest in creativity, design, and innovation in TV and media production through panel discussions and workshops. The festival also gives out awards to actors from series highlighted each year. The fifth annual festival took place in February, and featured premiere screenings and events for series including Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything, ABC’s American Crime, and WGN America’s Underground. The sixth edition of the festival will take place February 1 to 3, 2018.
First held in 2012, the television festival in Austin functions as a traditional film festival by offering a mix of panels focused on industry-related topics and interviews with casts and creators of TV shows. But the festival also has fan events, including meet-ups, live music, happy hours, and parties. The sixth annual festival, dubbed “Season 6,” took place in June and included a Battlestar Galactica reunion and panels for series including The Americans, Girls, and Glow. “Season 7” of the festival will take place June 7 to 10, 2018.
A five-day celebration of episodic storytelling, the Denver festival held its third edition in June and July. While it’s a little less flashy than its competitors, the festival provides emerging creators with a platform through screenings of episodes submitted by creators as part of the event's competition, and also hosts panels, network premieres, and sneak peaks. And to celebrate the CNN original series The Nineties, this year’s event kicked off with a ‘90s throwback night that included performances by musicians Lauryn Hill, En Vogue, and Common.
New York Television Festival
The annual gathering of industry executives, artists, and fans was founded in 2005. While the festival started as an outlet for independent creators to showcase original pilots to executives, it has evolved to include events hosted by major networks including SundanceTV, HBO, MTV, and TNT, as well as a new scripts competition series. The 13th annual festival will take place October 23 to 28.
Entertainment Weekly hosted its first-ever pop culture festival in Los Angeles at the Reef in 2016, offering a variety of live panels, performances, screenings, and podcasts. Notable events that took place at the inaugural edition included a screening of first footage from the Gilmore Girls Netflix revival, a Happy Endings reunion and live table read, and a live recording of the Anna Faris Is Unqualified podcast. The magazine hasn’t announced when it will host a second edition of the festival.