Newcastle Puppetry Festival returns for its 5th edition this coming Easter Holidays. The festival will run 30 March to 7 April 2024, offering a wide variety of colourful events across the city’s venues and public spaces.

Produced by local arts charity Moving Parts Arts CIO, the award-winning festival will feature over 100 free and ticketed puppetry events, including workshops, films, talks and performances for adults, children, teens and families. The festival attracts over 10,000 people with each edition, a bubbling mixture of local residents, people from around the region, and visitors from all corners of the world.

The festival will kick off on Saturday 30th March with ‘Beasts on the Street’, where large-scale puppet creatures will roam Northumberland Street, including a giant spider and snow lion. At 2pm that day the ‘City of Kittiwakes’ community parade will transform the shopping street with colour, puppets, music and dancing.

North East residents can sign up to get involved in the free workshops at the John Marley Centre, Scotswood (16th March onwards) to create puppets, costumes and masks for the City of Kittiwakes parade. The parade is inspired by the kittiwake seabird which famously migrates and nests under the Tyne Bridge.

Young boy looking at The Show Lion puppet

The Snow Lion by Creature Encounters

On Sunday 31 March (Easter Sunday) the festival moves to the Ouseburn for ‘Puppet Valley’. Families can enjoy a full day of free performances, roaming characters and puppetry activities at Ouseburn Farm, along with ticketed events at The Cluny and Seven Stories. There will even be a animatronic giant tortoise which visitors can feed, along with the usual favourites such as bubble play and Delilah the Elephant.

Northern Stage will be the festival hub between 1 to 6 April with a whole week of indoor ticketed shows for adults, teens and families. Programme highlights include ‘Ascension’ by SITIO Compagnie – a UK premiere from France which features a giant elephant puppet, and ‘Breathe’ by Half a String – a unique mixture of puppetry, drum and bass music and micro-cinema projections. There will also be an interactive show specially made for children under 5 called ‘Sea Dragon’ by Dragon Song Productions.

The Great North Museum: Hancock will also play an important part in the festival between 1 to 6 April as hosts of ‘Puppetry on the Green’. 6 days of free performances and workshops will take place in marquees on the lawn outside the museum. Families can access shows like ‘Beowulf’, ‘Three Billy Pigs’ and ‘Tales of Robin Hood’ completely for free, alongside a varied programme of kids craft workshops. Workshops for adults and professional puppeteers will also run throughout the week at the museum.

Hare and red squirrel puppets standing in a forest by a tree trunk.

The Handmade Herd By Animus Puppetry

Moving Parts Arts Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Kerrin Tatman, commented: “We are so excited for this edition of the event as it is our biggest one yet and first annual festival to date. The event has grown from humble beginnings in 2017 to what it is now, but grassroots community arts are still very much at its core. We invite everyone to get involved, whether in the parade, as a volunteer or to attend one of the many free or ticketed events throughout the festival week.”

“I am most excited for Ghost Stories: Tales of the Supernatural by The Paper Cinema, which will take place at Northern Stage on the 4 April 2024. We have wanted to bring this company to the festival since we began and their unique mixture of live music, live animation and storytelling will offer something particularly special to this year’s event.”

Newcastle Puppetry Festival is funded and made possible by support from Arts Council England, North of Tyne Combined Authority, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Lottery Community Fund, People’s Postcode Lottery, The Barbour Trust and The Malings Community Fund.

To learn more about Newcastle Puppetry Festival or buy tickets to any of the events, go to www.newcastlepuppetryfestival.co.uk