An international journey at the 2024 Children's Festival

Welcome to the 2024 edition of the Edinburgh International Children's Festival [25 May to 2 June]. Featuring 14 productions from 9 countries, the Festival is a place for artistic expression, risk taking and the celebration of quality theatre and dance for young people.

Never one to shy away from bold themes, the festival returns with works that explore a range of experiences of the human condition, always considering the perspective and viewpoint of the child. Themes of curiosity, connectedness and care for the environment abound with characters learning to communicate across languages, cultures and borders to establish friendship and play. This year, we're also thrilled to present a spotlight on Catalonia, with three stunning works representing the unique vision of artists from this region. And Scotland remains at the heart of the festival, with two premieres and two new works from Scottish companies and artists. So lets take a look at the shows on offer.


So Far So Good [for 3 to 6 years] is an adventurous new contemporary circus show for early years. Three performers use daring acrobatics to explore flying, falling, steep places, precipices and the sharp rocks you come across on the way up. Created in the Cairngorms with the children who live in wild places, and drawing on their lived experience of false summits, dangerous scrambles, and hiking to the top, this is a show which celebrates the joy of dancing along the edge, scaling the heights and discovering the secret rest places and long views along the way. A show for anyone who has ever asked “Are we there yet?” Because however high we get, are we ever really there?

The Unexpected Gift [for 7 to 15 years] celebrates the art of play and curiosity, taking ordinary objects and making them extraordinary and magical. This is a story reversing the idea that it is the wrapping paper, the cardboard boxes and ribbons that should be discarded, and reveals that playfulness, creativity and imagination are the true gifts. Bursting with energy, acrobatic dance, textures, sounds and colour to create a multi-sensory wonderland from the left-over boxes, ribbons and wrapping. This highly interactive and inclusive dance-theatre performance is made especially for and with children with complex needs such as autism. 

In Shō and The Demons of the Deep [for 8 to 13 years], Shō’s city has been plagued by nightmares for as long as she can remember, but hers are the worst of all. One day, Shō has had enough. She throws her nightmares away into the river, where they wash out to sea. Soon people start copying her; the city is rid of its nightmares, and everyone is delighted. But sixty years later, when the river becomes poisoned, Shō’s granddaughter Hana must face her greatest fears in order to save her home. Shō and the Demons of the Deep by Zoë Bullock is a visual adventure story about overcoming fear, climate crisis and how the actions of one generation can affect the next.

The Yellow Canary [for 9 to 15 years] is based on a true story and is a leap into the imagination of a young boy as he attempts to escape the horrors of war, exploring love, loss, and what it means to flee your home. Performance maker Tashi Gore uncovers the real-life journey her uncle Bernard took as a young Jewish boy, forced to leave his home city of Paris with just his parents and his pet canary for company. Combining live storytelling, testimony, and digital animation, The Yellow Canary is a compelling and timely performance. 

Spotlight on Catalonia: Univers [for 0 to 2 years]

A sensory experience for early childhood.  As performers and beautiful objects move around, scatter and connect, children are slowly drawn into the space, observing, reflecting, touching or interacting in their own individual way. They are all inhabitants of this cosmos and part of a fragile balance. Univers is a poetic sensory experience based on stunning visual imagery and live music. A space for very young children to explore how small insignificant things can have unexpected outcomes. A space to share our vulnerability, adapt to new situations and connect with each other. A unique and unrepeatable experience that is built and rebuilt over and over again.

Spotlight on Catalonia: An Ki [for 7 to 10 years]

An immersive theatrical experience about the origin and destiny of humankind, set in an intimate and magical tent. It is a compelling story about greed and deforestation and the consequences it has for the environment and its inhabitants. When the shadows of giant invaders appear in the woods outside Adja’s town, with their unending hunger for trees, the inhabitants begin to leave. In order to cope with the reality of her world, Adja uses her imagination, searching for the roots of her past and hope for the future. Through intricate puppetry and a stunning visual design, award-wining Cia. Ortiga lead the audience on a promenade journey into the richly detailed world of one girl’s battle to save her environment.

Spotlight on Catalonia: Black [for 12 years +]

A reflection on the violence and emancipation of being Black in today’s world, through a body that narrates, challenges and disturbs – a body that is both wounded and celebrated. Using a set devoid of artifice and brimming with symbolism, creator and performer Oulouy references episodes from recent history such as the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the murder of George Floyd, to rethink the Black African body in the western world. It is a dance, visual and music chronicle of the freedom movement which skillfully plays with a choreographic repertoire inspired by urban styles of the African continent and its diaspora in the USA, such as Coupé-Décalé, Ndomboló, Afrohouse or Krump.

The Netherlands: Be Kind [for 6 to 18 months]

Be kind is an intimate theatre experience for babies. In this sensory performance of sound, colour and movement, children experience acrobatics and juggling up close. From the song of early birds to luminous juggling at dusk, the performance follows the rhythm of the day. The pop-up decor slowly comes to life, and there is always something that rattles, appears, creaks, rolls or floats. During the performance, a heartwarming dialogue develops between the artists and their young audience.  Because of these spontaneous interactions, each performance is unique. After the performance, the audience is invited on stage – they can crawl in, out, along and through the decor to explore the special materials up close. Be Kind also offers a specially designed baby book by Rianne van Duin to continue discovering circus and play at home.

France: By Trial and Error [for 4 to 10 years]

The stage is set: a simple black curtain stands centre stage. Then two hidden circus artists appear and the show begins... But as the two disoriented acrobats move to perform their first lift, a terrible doubt arises in their seemingly well-oiled routine. Is this the right move? Is this what we rehearsed? Driven by the need to continue at any cost, the duo invents new moves and jostles. Sometimes absurdly lost and meandering, but always bouncing back. By Trial and Error is a delightful show of acrobatic lifts, full of humour borrowed from burlesque and silent cinema, where the audience is constantly surprised by the antics and skill of the performers.

Czech Republic: Cabinet of Miracles [for 5 to 9 years]

Inspired by the world-famous textbook Orbis Pictus, Cabinet of Miracles is a theatrical introduction to planet Earth. Following the format of ancient cabinets of curiosities, the actors explore and present artefacts which come to life via the oldest and most traditional puppet tricks. Through this theatrical magic, the audience is drawn to examine the greatest miracles of life. We wonder at human discoveries and inventions – books, fans, cogs, metronomes – as well as the beauty of the human body, and the greatest miracle of all, the planet Earth and its function in space.

Ireland: An Ant Called Amy [for 5 to 9 years]

This is a story about an ant called Amy (an award-winning ant one might add), her brother Andy and a Brown Spider. Amy the ant works very hard. When she wins the Employee of the Month Award, Amy feels a happiness that drives her to work even harder. But with the help of the Brown Spider, Amy finds true happiness by embracing her brother’s memory in the everyday. A charming and moving story that sensitively explores sibling loss, An Ant Called Amy tells the tale of an ant who learns to slow down.

Italy: Kish Kush [for 5 to 10 years]

Kish Kush traces the journey of two characters as they progress from solitude to connectedness. Separated by a three-foot high paper wall bisecting the space, with the audience sitting in the round with only a partial view of the stage, the performers face the universal theme of cultural and linguistic differences. One speaks English, the other a mix of Hebrew and Arabic.Through the manipulation of symbolic objects, shadow games and sounds, they gradually come into contact and get to know each other, finally tearing apart the delicate wall and emerging more accepting and trusting. At turns humorous and profound, challenging yet hopeful, Kish Kush offers a unique and eloquent portrayal of diversity.

Denmark: Suppose You Had A Portable Gramophone [for 8 to 13 years]

A magical tale created out of (almost) nothing. Three performers sitting at a table tell the story of a tiny village in the far north, where lives a small group of people wearing brown dresses and black coats. They look down mostly and sing every Sunday in church. Not too loud of course. And because they look down, they have nothing to talk about and nothing to long for. But then there’s Viola. She keeps herself to herself; she too looks down and tries to sing very quietly in church on Sundays. She is dreaming and yearning and asks a hundred questions. But then, one day, a stranger comes to town – and the entire world is suddenly at Viola’s feet…

Germany: TRASHedy [for 11 to 15 years]

How many plastic cups do you use in a lifetime? Two performers explore the story of our strange evolution and dig into the complexity of the topic ‘ecological intelligence’. Along the way, they keep raising new questions and encounter an ever-growing mountain of rubbish. Using a mix of of animated drawings, dance and sound collages, TRASHedy takes an honest, humorous look at our freedom of choice and consumerist behaviour, and invites us to reflect on our actions. Because everything we do has an impact. Somewhere.

The Edinburgh International Children's Festival runs from 25 May to 2 June 2024, and you can browse the programe and buy tickets online HERE

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