As preparation for the first Nottingham Puppet Festival hits its last two weeks, the’ss lots to think about, with workshops and walkabouts popping up all over the city. Did you see the dragon at Greens Mill? Have you heard there will be an elephant loose in St Ann’s? Will Maid Marionette visit your school?

Amongst all the excitement, the nuts and bolts stuff is falling into place too. Should we hire 80 chairs or 100 for the pop-up puppet village in Old Market Square? Will we fit all of our carnival participants into City Arts to get ready? What time will the Iron Man walk into Old Market Square to find his lunch?

Being a festival organiser is a joy and a curse. It is a joy to be part of an amazing team, who have been working hard for nearly two years to pull together some of the best puppetry from the UK and beyond. Fout what work artists are producing, working with companies to commission new work, and seeing exciting puppetry made right here in Nottingham have been some of the pleasures of being part of the steering group for this festival.

The curse, however, is that once the festival opens, I won’t get to see much, too busy rushing around, managing spaces, or focusing on the prep for an event or workshop to make sure it goes well.

That’s our problem, however, yours is to decide what to go and see! Here are my recommendations:

Sleeping Beauty by Companie Akselere

Woman with forks, casting shadows

Objects and shadows combine to create an atmospheric retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale, set in a kingdom devastated by unemployment and famine, and where gangs are the norm. An urban wolf stalks our heroine, will she will wake up?

Thu 22 March, 19:30.  Book Tickets >>

The Iron Man

Giant Iron Man Puppet

Based on Ted Hughes’s moving and poignant story about a giant iron man who lands on earth, terrifying villagers and driving them to create plans for his destruction, The Graeae Iron Man will walk into Old Market Square, where, instead of greeting him with fear, you can take part in workshops to make tasty treats for his lunch.

Sat 24 March, 12.00pm, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Learn more >>

Old Market Square

Marionette

Spend an afternoon in Old Market Square and enjoy a plethora of puppet activity. As well as the Iron Man, look out for a specially commissioned new puppet for Nottingham. If you missed Harminder the Elephant in St Ann’s then maybe she will be making a second appearance. The world-renowned magician Osvaldo Drevno, and his able assistant Ola Muchin will showcase their unique brand of unpredictable magic, and the Budapest Marionette Company will wow you with their Hungarian puppetry magic.

The Luckiest Girl Alive

Man holds puppet

Produced by three graduates from Nottingham Trent University, this moving re-telling on one woman’s survival and recovery from FGM, the impact it had on her life, and how her determination for this not to happen to others is an amazing piece of theatre, and shows how puppets can gently tell the hardest stories, making them manageable for the audience. Followed by a Q&A with the artists and the women whose stories were told, this is a sensitive and inspiring show.

Fri 23 March, 19:30. Book Tickets >>

The Finale Parade

Bird Puppets

A festival isn’t a festival without a parade. City Arts’ resident carnival troupe, Can Samba, will an array of amazing creatures, dancers, costumes and more. A fitting finale to a vibrant and joyful festival, be sure to join us for the closing party in Old Market Square.

Sun 25 March, 15:00. Learn more >>