Ayup puppet! The Nottingham Puppet Festival is back for 2021

Date published: 4 May 2021

Posted by: Joe Pick

Nottingham Puppet Festival 24-27 June 2021

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Working in partnership, the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, City Arts (Nottingham) and Nottingham Trent University, have announced dates for the Nottingham Puppet Festival which will take place this summer.

Nottingham Puppet Festival - 24-27 June 2021 - Bringing the City to Life with Puppets and People

From Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th June, locations around the city centre will come alive with a vibrant and fun programme of puppetry. From spellbinding adventures and storytelling, to curious creatures and creations, there’ll be shows, screenings, workshops and walkabouts to entertain the entire family.

David Longford, TRCH Creative Learning Manager, said:

We are so delighted, after much re-scheduling, to finally – FINALLY – announce dates and programme for the second Nottingham Puppet Festival in June. Our first Puppet Festival in 2018 was a huge success and so we have been working hard to ensure that the festival returns and becomes a new and regular event in the city’s calendar. Whilst the 2021 Puppet Festival has been scaled to reflect current conditions, TRCH will be working closely with colleagues and artists all across the city to bring as much varied and much-needed fun and entertainment to Nottingham

Join Maid Marionette and a whole host of rebellious puppets, including the YOUnique Collective from New Art Exchange, on Saturday as they weave their way around the grounds of Nottingham Castle, lending a touch of magic and carnival flavour to the newly reopened castle and grounds. Then head to Sneinton Market on Sunday for a choice of family shows followed by puppets in the plaza including the fabulous flamingos!

Highlights from the 2018 website

Also, on Saturday, from 11.30am, Nottingham based Ditto Theatre will be blasting into space from outside Nottingham Playhouse with ‘Rocket Girl’, a walkabout puppet treat, based on their award-winning show, where you will discover if you have what it takes to be an astronaut.

Alison Denholm, City Arts’ Creative Development Manager, said:

We have dusted off our strings after such a long gap since our first festival in 2018. The team have worked very hard to make the 2021 event Covid safe, yet still bring the fun, joy and magic of puppetry back to Nottingham. For Festival, City Arts is supporting a number of new companies and artists through a bursary scheme, and we are looking forward to seeing that work come to life. As well as the new work, here will be artist commissions, TV favourites, and more, both online and in real life! The shows will be smaller, and masks will be on, but we hope this festival will bring some sparkle to the city after such a difficult year.

Elsewhere in the city, Norwich Puppet Theatre’s Pied Piper will be dancing into the Squire Performing Arts Centre for a special performance, as well as exhibitions at City Arts, and daily online puppet poetry. Following the success of Nottingham Trent University’s puppetry talks series at the last festival, they’ll once again celebrate puppetry with talks and debates from local up-and-coming, as well as established, creators and makers, which will take place earlier in June and then be shared as part of the festival.

Michael Marsden, Executive Dean of the School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University, said:

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has a long and distinguished history of puppetry education, and we’re proud to once again be part of the partnership behind the Nottingham Puppet Festival. The programme, which includes contributions from the School of Art & Design’s students, staff and alumni, will bring a vibrant assortment of activities and events to the city and its communities – all in celebration of this historic art form. The University will also be presenting a series of digital talks and debates centred around Puppetry and Wellbeing, exploring themes including disability, mental health, and gender identity.

Broadway will be hosting an illustrated talk from leading marionettist Ronnie Le Drew, best known for his years as Zippy from TV’s Rainbow, and work on Labyrinth, The Muppets Christmas Carol, and more recently his work on Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. This will be followed by a screening of the classic fantasy Labyrinth as well as a late-night screening of 80s classic puppet horror Child’s Play.

Puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew and Zippy

In order to keep everyone (including the puppets!) safe the organisers will be maintaining Covid rules throughout, including social distancing, masks where necessary, with many performances or events limited in number and with a timed booking system. Tickets will need to be booked online in advance for all performances, except at the castle where a General Castle Admission ticket will need to be purchased. This will allow access to all of the Nottingham Puppet Festival programme in the Castle grounds.

Nottingham Puppet Festival is grateful for the financial support from Arts Council England, the Foyle Foundation and Nottingham City of Literature, as well as the support from our many festival partners across the city.

Find the full festival line up and ticket booking on the Puppet Festival website.