The presence of a highly educated general population ensures a cultural life in New Haven equal to that of many larger cities. A reliable source of information on cultural events and nightlife is the free weekly newspaper the New Haven Advocate (www.newhavenadvocate.com).
The Performing Arts -- Within a couple of blocks of the Green, the Shubert Performing Arts Center, 247 College St. (tel. 800/228-6622 or 203/562-5666; www.shubert.com), presents musicals, opera, plays, cabaret, concerts, and such touring troupes as the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. The well-regarded Yale Repertory Theatre (tel. 203/432-1234; www.yalerep.org) mounts an October-to-May season of modern productions as well as classics by Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, and Tennessee Williams. It uses three venues: University Theater, 222 York St.; the New Theatre, 1156 Chapel St.; and The Rep, 1120 Chapel St.
Away from downtown, but worth the cab fare, is the prestigious Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Dr. (tel. 203/787-4282; www.longwharf.org). It's known for its success in producing new plays that often make the jump to Off-Broadway and even Broadway itself. The season runs from October to June.
Several venues on the Yale campus, including Sprague Memorial Hall, 470 College St., and Woolsey Hall, at College and Grove streets, host the performances of resident organizations, including the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Civic Orchestra, Yale Concert Band, Yale Glee Club, and Yale Philharmonia. For upcoming events, call the Yale Concert Information Line (tel. 203/432-4157).
The Club Scene -- The biggest and best venue for live rock, hip-hop, and pop is Toad's Place, 300 York St. (tel. 203/621-TOAD; www.toadsplace.com), which welcomes the likes of Blonde Redhead, The Mars Volta, and Johnny Winter, with a smattering of tribute bands and regional groups on the schedule, too. Performances are usually from Thursday through Sunday nights.
For something less frenetic, the popular BAR, 254 Crown St. (tel. 203/495-1111; www.barnightclub.com), has a lounge in front -- open to the street on warm nights -- and a pool table, terrace, and dance floor in back. On Sunday, listen to live jazz or blues. The Bru Rm, a brewpub tacked onto the slightly older nightclub, produces rich beers and poses a naked challenge in the eternal New Haven pizza wars; its thinnest-crust pies are leading contenders for the crown long held by Frank Pepe's. The gentrifying Ninth Square neighborhood has a new bar and jazz concert space, Firehouse 12, 45 Crown St. (tel. 203/785-0468; www.firehouse12.com). It's open Wednesday through Saturday nights, featuring half-price drafts and free food some evenings. Combos usually appear on Friday.