Big Umbrella Festival

Lincoln Center believes the arts are for everyone! This September, we welcomed young audiences with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families to our free weekend of programming at Big Umbrella Festival.

Launched in 2018, the Big Umbrella Festival centers audiences with autism and other developmental disabilities by sharing unique approaches to sensory-based, interactive, and intimate artistic experiences to meet audiences exactly as they are. This three-day, campus-wide festival featured performances, installations, workshops, and online content designed with and for neurodiverse audiences. 


All events were Relaxed Performances, designed to be inclusive for guests with a range of sensory needs. We encouraged guests to engage with events at their comfort level, in a supportive environment. Accommodations included:

• Visual Guide, in English and Spanish, detailing directions, arrival instructions, and venue amenities with images.
• All events were located on accessible routes and included accessible entrances, restrooms, and seating.
• Assistive listening devices with headsets and neck loops were available at all performances.
• American Sign Language interpretation available for most performances and upon request.
• Captioning available for some performances and upon request.
• Audio description available for film events and upon request.
• Chill out spaces were available, as well as noise-reducing headphones and fidgets at all event spaces.

History of Big Umbrella

Learn how Big Umbrella originated from a single commission, growing into a robust weekend-long festival.  Learn more »

Explore activities and installations

ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York (Online)

A selection of four short films will be made available online from September 17–25. Learn more »

Mountain Goat Mountain (Online)

Step inside a magical and wonderful place through an audio theatre experience for families to do in their home together. Learn more »


Softy transformed the main plaza at Lincoln Center into a soft and interactive environment.  Learn more »

Word Play

Hearst Plaza became a spontaneous playground where by using letters, young people and their families will be able to experiment and create messages. Learn more »


By sitting, lying, rolling or rocking on pillows, participants took part in music-making. Learn more »

Thanks to Our Supporters

Major support for Big Umbrella Festival is provided by Esme Usdan and James Snyder and by public funds facilitated by New York City Council’s Autism Awareness Initiative