Families can once again delight in the incredible array of entertainment on offer as part of the Family Arts Festival, as the hugely popular initiative returns for a third year this October half-term with scores of events and activities across the capital.
This year the Family Arts Festival, which aims to introduce families to the wealth of stellar entertainment and culture on offer across the UK, has teamed up with the BBC’s Get Creative to present more than 5,000 events from 9 October to 1 November, many of which will be free. The Lyric Hammersmith, Hackney Empire, the Unicorn Theatre, Greenwich Theatre, Sadler’s Wells and artsdepot are among the many London theatres taking part.
Kids aged seven to 16 and their families can come face to face with savage Spartans and ruthless Romans in Horrible Histories’ Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders, both of which play at the Hackney Empire from 7 to 11 October.
The Unicorn Theatre will host A Mano, the story of a very small but very special superhero for ages four to eight-years-old from 29 October to 1 November, alongside dance pieces Raw (16 and 17 October) and DU: Unplugged (24 and 25 October).
The Lyric Hammersmith offers a triple whammy of theatrical treats, starting with Arnold’s Big Adventure (10 October), a show combining puppetry, live music and a smidgen of synchronised swimming for ages three to 10. A modern retelling of Saint George And The Dragon in The Dragon’s Tale follows (17 October) for ages four to eight, with Olive And The Dream Train (24 October) rounding off the Hammersmith venue’s offerings with its rollercoaster ride through mindboggling mysteries for children aged between five and 11.
A trio of page to stage adaptations can be enjoyed at the Greenwich Theatre. Jeanne Willis’ The King Of Tiny Things (26 October) is brought to life with circus, text, puppetry and music for children of all ages, while Russell Hoban’s magical tale Rosie’s Magic Horse (18 October) and Tall Stories’ take on The Snow Dragon (27 to 28 October) are suitable for younger theatre lovers aged three to seven.
For older children, artsdepot is the place to be this October. History, theatre and sketch comedy come together in Instructions For American Servicemen In Britain (22 October), a cheeky take on Englishness for ages 11 and older, and audiences aged 10 and older are invited to join Saikat as he dances precariously through his dual identity childhood in Strictly Balti (15 October).
Talking of dance, there is also plenty on offer from Islington’s acclaimed dance venue Sadler’s Wells as part of the Family Arts Festival. The Lilian Baylis Studio will host Tiger Tale (23 to 24 October), the story of a wild and dangerous feline that reignites a family’s love for one another, and the Akram Khan Company’s Chotto Desh (30 to 31 October), both of which are suitable for ages seven and older.
Talking about the importance of getting families involved in the arts, the Family Arts Festival’s Patron, War Horse and I Believe In Unicorns author Michael Morpurgo, said: “An early cultural experience for children in whatever form – opera, ballet, music or art is a wonderful thing because it opens the door to a life-long experience, a life-long enjoyment. I encourage families to make a day of it together – or a week – exploring the exciting events that are happening all around the UK this half-term.”
A full list of all the events and activities on offer as part of the festival can be found on the Family Arts Festival website, with new events being added daily.