What's On at the Children's Festival

Two years after celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival is about o finally reopen its doors - festival starts on Tuesday 25th May - for a programme of online and outdoor theatre and dance for young people. It is the first of our festivals to do so in a sector which has been hit hard over the last year. With a digital programme including streamed performances and innovative ‘live’ digital interactions, schools and families from all over the UK are able to take part this year, especially as many of the online shows can be watched at any time during the 13 days of the Festival.

The Festival has also introduced a price sliding scale, with family tickets available for as little as £5, in recognition of the financial strain many families have experienced recently. This, alongside its successful schools programme, will help increase access to the Festival even further. And to help you find your way through the programme, we've picked out ten events - five from the real world and five from the digital world.

In Real Life

1. Buff and Sheen is a comical roaming dance performance about two imaginative window cleaners.   Buff and Sheen’s novelty, absurdist and slapstick humour tickles audiences of all ages. Children can particularly enjoy interacting with the performers through a closed window, joining in with dance moves and laughing at the general shenanigans up close, from the comfort and safety of home. This show is a private experience for children with ASN [Additional Special Needs] living in Edinburgh. You will need a clear garden/patio space of at least 4sqm in front of your window. This must be a private area with no public access. Find full details HERE.

Childrens - Buff & Sheen

2. Family Encounters: A series of free pop-up performances and installations taking place in the Royal Botanic Garden and other Edinburgh venues in the first and last weekend of the Festival. The outdoor programme celebrates the creative talents of artists based in Scotland and will bring an array of artistic adventures up close to families. You can expect pop-up dance performances, adventure trails, audio journeys, and sightings of undiscovered creatures, all in a Covid-safe environment. To attend the Family Encounters at the Botanics, you must book a FREE slot through the Botanics' Eventbrite in advance (due to Covid restrictions, the number of time slots available are limited). Find full details HERE.

Childrens - Family Encounters

3. Family Portrait is an interactive video installation work in an Edinburgh city centre venue [Assembly Roxy], combining striking imagery and choreography, capturing Barrowland Ballet’s Artistic Director Natasha Gilmore and her three children in an intimate portrayal of family life. With space to roam, her children encounter rabbit skulls, converse with spiders, make war paint with berries and discover the fun of burying their mother in bark. With humour and candour, the work shares an honest depiction of what family really is - responsibility, joy, balance, intimacy and, most of all, love. The film will be experienced on multiple screens by one extended family bubble at a time. Watch the trailer below and find full details HERE.


4. Lovey and Boy – A Carnival Odyssey: Carnival is a time when you can be anyone – from a mighty warrior to a mythical butterfly, or even a cunning trickster! Lovey and Boy are best friends, who love to dance, and are excited for carnival time. Boy is discovering more about who she is. With the support of Lovey they embark on a journey learning more about their heritage and about carnival. This tale of Carnival is a celebration of Caribbean heritage and identity asking who are we? What is our history? And how do we move through the world? A playful story of self-discovery. The audience will follow Lovey and Boy on their journey through an immersive video experience, in the garden of North Edinburgh Arts, with films projected in different areas of the garden. Watch the trailer below and find full details HERE.


5. Alley Oop is a fun, energetic workshop activity that uses dance and basketball to explore what it takes to bounce back from a fall, leap into the unknown and, when the pressure is on, how we need to work together to make that slam dunk. Developed by Room 2 Manoeuvre’s Tony Mills and Hong Kong based artist Yip Chan, this unique activity will offer you the chance to learn the basics of basketball and hip hop/breakin’ and eventually discover how dance and sport can come together. The workshop is for children only but up to 2 adults per child can watch from the outside of the basketball court, presented by the arts organisation Lyra based in Greater Craigmillar. 

Childrens - AlleyOop

In Digital World

1. Potato Needs A Bath: Meet Maris Piper and her fruit and vegetable friends in this colourful combination of live and pre-recorded performance based on the much loved theatre show, then join the fruit and vegetable party of the year live online. Everyone is ready - except for Potato. Onion is practising his guitar, Aubergine is wearing her new necklace and Peach is bouncing on the bed with excitement. The problem is Potato needs a bath - but he has other ideas - because Potato loves mud! Children are encouraged to bring a fruit or vegetable friend to the party. Watch the trailer below and find full details HERE


2. White: Welcome to the world of WhiteWhite is a place where men wear bathmats as aprons and baby hats on their heads. White is a world of birdhouses, disco balls and prawn crackers. White is a place where everything is white. But one day colour arrives and everything changes. Over 100,000 worldwide audiences have fallen in love with this magical, highly visual show. After touring the world for the past 10 years, in 2020 Catherine Wheels brought together the original cast and creative team to produce a specially-made film of the production. Watch the trailer below and find full details HERE.


3. The University of Wonder & Imagination is now enrolling students of all ages and magical abilities. This fun, interactive experience takes place live through the magic of the Internet! Children will journey to the most unusual of universities, where the mysterious Professor Bamberg will send them off on a self-navigated quest where nothing is quite as it seems. They will interact with the liveliest of lecturers, choose their subjects of study, enter themed rooms and encounter all kinds of problems and puzzles, unlocking magical powers as they go. The choices they’ll make during the event will shape their unique experience. Watch the trailer below and find full details HERE.


4. The Super Special Disability Roadshow: This hilarious, energising, multi-media show looks at how we talk about disability today. Roadshow hosts Rob and Sal are coming to the end of their schools tour, but are running late for the day's gig. The audience is already waiting impatiently when they enter the stage, struggling with their touring kit. Opening with a cheery (some might say cheesy!) ditty, they launch into their show. Things are going pretty well, as Rob and Sal teach us what it’s like for disabled people in today’s world … until the younger generation decides to set them straight! Watch the trailer below and find full details HERE.


5. And finally we're actually going to pick two shows that, although delivered digitally, have a interactive element which brings the whol show to life in your own home:

  • first up, Lock Up - a top-secret adventure, where our team of experienced operatives will make contact and test you and your family in a series of challenges; 
  • and secondly, A Piece of You - a live intimate and interactive performance where cellist and composer Greg Sinclair will transform your thoughts and feelings into your very own music score using colourful and expressive graphic notation

There's much more on offer, so why not take a look at the full programme and we're sure you'll find something to suit all ages in your own household.

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