It doesn’t feel that long ago that we were all knee-deep in Christmas tins of Quality Street, and yet here we are with hot cross buns in the shops, and eating Easter eggs for breakfast (maybe that’s just me…) 2018 is racing past – there’s already been a couple of fantastic children’s theatre festivals, Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre in London, and Belfast Children’s Festival, but there’s still plenty more on the horizon…
Greenwich Children’s Theatre Festival (London)
Sat 31st March – Sun 15th April
The Greenwich Children’s Theatre Festival, which has now been running for over a decade, handily coincides with the Easter holidays. The programme includes shows inspired by fantastical creatures – Scratchwork Theatre Company’s The Snow Beast and Taking Flight Theatre’s You’ve Got Dragons, and real animals – ThisEgg’s Me & My Bee and Ditto Theatre Company’s Ingo’s War, the tale of evacuee children told through the eyes of their pet dog.
For more information, head to greenwichtheatre.org.uk
Spark Festival (Leicester)
Mon 21st – Mon 28th May
Taking place each May, Spark Festival is the largest children’s arts festival in England and Wales, presenting the best theatre, dance music, visual arts and digital media events for young people aged 0-13 years. This year’s programme includes Teater Pero’s production Aston’s Stones, one of our top ten shows of 2017, as well as a new early years show, Mrs Pockets, from one of our favourite companies Turned On Its Head.
For more information, head to thesparkarts.co.uk
Techtopia Festival (London)
Thurs 24th May – Sun 3rd June
Conveniently running across eight days over May half term, Techtopia is an exciting new festival exploring how technological innovation shapes our lives. There’s a packed programme of workshops, debates, and theatre, including a couple of our favourite shows from recent years – iPet, a comedy double act magic show with an ingenious use of handheld devices, and Error 404, which asks some meaty philosophical questions while letting the audience direct the action.
For more information, head to polkatheatre.com
Wheee! International Children’s Theatre and Dance Festival (Nottingham)
Mon 28th May – Sun 3rd June
This is the fourteenth Wheee! Festival, which has brought performances to tens of thousands of children and families over the past few years. In addition to the range of shows from international artists throughout the festival – such as an adaptation of The Princess and the Pea by Norwegian company Dybwikdans, and Is This A Dagger?, a retelling of Macbeth by the brilliant Andy Cannon – there is a special Family Weekend (4th & 5th June) of activities and performances held in Highfields Park.
For more information, head to lakesidearts.org.uk
Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (Edinburgh)
Sat 26th May – Sun 3rd June
This year’s line-up includes shows from Scotland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa, catering to all ages from babies to young adults. We’re particularly excited for Eddie & the Slumber Sisters, the new show from the acclaimed Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, We come from far, far away, NIE’s production performed in a Mongolian yurt and based on true stories from young refugees, and Theaterhaus Ensemble’s Things to Wear, which pulls its performance literally out of the bag to the tune of Purcell’s baroque opera The Fairy Queen.
For more information, head to imaginate.org.uk
Little Feet Festival of Children’s Theatre (York)
Tues 12th – Sat 16th June
Every other year, acclaimed children’s theatre company tutti frutti, and venues York Theatre Royal and the Carriageworks Theatre, join forces to stage Little Feet Festival. This year’s programme features several shows we’ve seen and loved, including Shh…Bang! by Peut-Etre, A Square World by Daryl Beeton, Error 404 from ARC Stockton and Polka Theatre, and Katie’s Birthday Party by Mary-Frances Doherty.
For more information, head to tutti-frutti.org.uk
International Youth Arts Festival – IYAF (London)
Fri 6th – Sun 15th July
This is the tenth IYAF, a festival that prides itself on being one of the largest and most diverse youth arts events in the world. The festival is a platform for young international artists to showcase their talents, and also offers an exciting programme of live performances aimed at young people. This year’s shows are still to be announced so watch this space…
For more information, head to iyafestival.org.uk
Just So Festival (Cheshire)
Fri 17th, Sat 18th & Sun 19th August
Just So Festival is an annual family arts festival set in the grounds of Rode Hall. The woodland clearings, rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside spots make a great backdrop for the theatrical, visual and musical performances, workshops and installations that take place over the weekend. We’re especially excited about the new areas for 2018, like Roll Up Roll Up – a large-scale, lakeside area dedicated to circus acts to celebrate 250 years since the first circus in the world was formed by a young lad from the local area.
For more information, head to justsofestival.org.uk
bOing! Festival (Kent)
Sat 25th & Sun 26th August
Kent’s annual international family festival promises to be the biggest and best bOing! yet, jam-packed with activities, workshops, art installations, and performances from Australia, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain, France and the UK. Produced by Gulbenkian in Canterbury, lots of what’s on offer is completely free, and even the ticketed performances are a maximum of only £6 – details of what’s on offer are soon to be announced!
For more information, head to boingfestival.com
Baboró International Arts Festival for Children (Galway)
Mon 15th – Sun 21st October
Artists from Ireland and around the world are invited to perform at Ireland’s flagship international arts festival for children and families. The multi-disciplinary programme includes theatre, dance, puppetry, music, art and literature, in keeping with the festival’s aim to offer young people quality cultural and creative arts experiences. We look forward to finding out about this year’s line-up later in the year!
For more information, head to http://www.baboro.ie/
Children’s Theatre Reviews exists to help plug the gap in criticism and writing about theatre for young audiences. It is run entirely voluntarily, and needs support to continue covering and supporting the sector. For more information and to help give children’s theatre the voice it deserves, please visit our Patreon page.