Get ready for fun! The Children's Festival will launch in May

Fans of performing arts for children will likely be familiar with the work of the Imaginate Festival - and now the festival is back for its 28th edition, with a great programme and a brand new name, the Edinburgh International Children's Festival. 

The Edinburgh International Children's Festival (27 May to 4 June 2017) will launch with a free opening weekend at the National Museum of Scotland, before presenting 15 shows from 9 countries across the world and finally taking a new co-production on a three week tour of Scotland. 

Childrens Fest launch 2017 museum 975x400

After 2016's very successful opening at the National Museum of Scotland, the family weekend is back, with drop-in events all day including live music, pop-up performances, storytelling, hands-on arts activities and more. It's a great way to introduce small children to the fun of live performance - and best of all, it's completely free, thanks to the help of Creative Scotland.

Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland said: "The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival has, over the past two decades, made it possible for children from all backgrounds to enjoy theatre and dance made especially for them, stimulating learning and confidence through creative experiences. This year’s festival continues this important work and boasts a truly international programme which will inspire children of all ages, artistically, emotionally and intellectually."

Childrens Fest launch 2017 school 975x400

The Children's Festival has always been a great showcase for presenting work for young people delivered by performers from across the world and 2017 is no exception. 

Scottish talent will be joined this year by artists and companies from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the rest of the UK, in a programme which ranges from light, fun shows for the very young to exciting and sometimes darker material for older children. 

Shows on offer for little ones include Primo, which features a large inflatable swimming pool, and Grass, an exploration of the earth and its wriggliest creatures, which will be performed on real turf. 

Older kids will want to catch the likes of Falling Dreams, an exciting multi-media piece, and powerful drama, Evil, a look at bullying in a Swedish boarding school. 

Evil is one of two productions selected for this year's festival as part of the City of Edinburgh Council-supported initiative, Wee Night Out, which paired the Festival's Director with children from the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh. After attending and discussing 8 productions at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the children then helped select Evil and also Into The Water, for the Children's Festival programme. 

Festivals Champion Councillor Richard Lewis said: "In the 70th anniversary year of the Festival City, the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival will play an important role promoting, developing and celebrating the city’s festival spirit. Imaginate has established itself as the most successful programme of children's theatre and dance in the world, influencing the next generation of festival artists and audience members, performers and producers."

Taking the Children's Festival beyond Edinburgh this year is Night Light a new co-production for 3-6 year olds from Denmark's Teater Refleksion. The internationally renowned company, who were behind the hugely successful show, White, will invite audiences to share the magical journey of a curious little girl who wants to explore the night. 

Supported by the Scottish Government's Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, Night Light will tour to Perth, Dundee, Lerwick (tbc), Stirling, Inverness, Greenock, Glasgow and Dumfries before its 12 performances in Edinburgh 

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: "This year’s festival will deliver a diverse, high-quality programme of work in Edinburgh and beyond including Night Light, which was funded through £80,000 provided by the Scottish Government EXPO fund. Research has provided strong evidence on the value of young people experiencing culture from an early age, and the Children’s Festival ensures their exposure to high-quality arts."

Festival Director, Noel Jordan added: "No two productions are alike and in no other city in the world is there an opportunity to see this incredible array of work which is electrifying, stimulating and continually surprising."

The Edinburgh International Children's Festival runs from 27 May to 4 June and tickets are on sale now. For more festival information plus programme and ticketing links, please visit the festival page.

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