News

Nottingham Puppet Festival is back for 2024

Nottingham Puppet Festival will return for the third time in April 2024. Events happening between Tuesday 9 and Sunday 21 April will showcase the many diverse and exciting forms that puppetry can take. Expect to see everything from giant Hindu gods in Listergate to hand-carved marionettes in Sneinton.

The city-wide, community-focused festival is a celebration of puppets and people. Every corner of the city will be filled with puppetry performances from local, national and international artists, with small and large-scale puppetry also taking to the streets. The festival will present workshops, talks and screenings from key figures in the puppetry world.

In addition to the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall and City Arts, venues taking part in the festival include Lakeside Arts, Broadway Cinema, Squire Performing Arts Centre, New Art Exchange and Nottingham City Libraries and Community Centres, as well as other local makers and artists’ studios.

There’s a fantastic mix of shows including the multi award-winning Life of Pi and late-night puppet cabaret at the Theatre Royal, a melancholy scarecrow in NoOne’s Land at Lakeside Arts, cinema classics Eraserhead and The Adventures of Prince Achmed at Broadway, and lots of family fun with an early years library tour of The Search for Teddy Island and Charlie Comet and the Magic in the Attic. Talks, workshops and exhibitions will inspire both aspiring puppeteers and professional practitioners. Join in conversations about how puppetry is reaching diverse communities and enriching lives.

One of the highlights of the festival will be a City Centre day produced by City Arts on Saturday 13 April from 11am which will see puppetry and processions of all scales. Free street theatre, shows, music, and marvellous sights and sounds will link Sneinton Market to Old Market Square, all the way to the new Central Library. You’ll see Mahogany Carnival Design’s spectacular costumes, watch Inspirate’s Ancient Giants in a battle between good and evil, enjoy beautiful storytelling at the Central Library, and get close up to By Our Hands’ handcrafted marionettes.

Alison Denholm, Creative Development Manager at City Arts says: “Puppets are everywhere! Having been around for over 5000 years they are still with us in TV, film, stage, video-games, theme parks and more. Why? Because puppets are so good at telling stories about what it is to be human. Celebrating the artistry of puppets and puppetry along with the communities that inspire their stories, we are very excited and privileged to bring puppetry of every kind to all corners of the city during the third Nottingham Puppet Festival and can’t wait to bring the city to life with puppets and people.

As part of the festival’s commitment to supporting local artists, three bursaries have been awarded to Nottingham-based theatre makers. Meander, a theatre company of learning disabled and autistic creatives, will showcase a performance that uses puppetry to explore experiences of bullying. Artists Bryony McCombie Smith and Liz Johnson are developing short-form puppet cabaret acts. In the lead up to the festival Bristol-based puppet-maker Cat Rock will work with Nottingham community groups to build a ‘walkabout’ puppet. Cantrell Primary School pupils, the Nottingham Rebels Theatre Group, and participants from the Hubb Neighbourhood Centre in Sneinton will work with the artist to design this brand-new puppet.

The Puppet Festival is produced by the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall and arts charity City Arts (Nottingham). The event is funded by Arts Council England, thanks to money from the National Lottery, and is supported by Nottingham City Council.

The Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall will be hosting the acclaimed theatre production Life of Pi, based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel.

City Arts will lead a community engagement programme showcasing puppetry in local libraries and community centres across Nottingham. They will also produce a takeover of the city’s streets on Saturday 13 April featuring Mahogany Carnival Arts, who appeared in the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in 2022.

Other venues that will host a range of local, national and international puppet shows include Nottingham Playhouse, New Art Exchange, Squire Performing Arts Centre and Lakeside Arts. Broadway Cinema will be presenting a rare screening of David Lynch’s cinematic debut Eraserhead.

Jonathan Saville, Programming Director at the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, said: “The Nottingham Puppet Festival is now becoming a regular event in the cultural calendar of the city and is something we’re all incredibly proud and excited to be involved with and working on again with our partners in and around Nottingham. As well as presenting the stunning production of Life of Pi on the Theatre Royal stage we also have a number of other amazing events taking place across the city during the festival.”

Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Culture, Nottingham City Council, said: “It’s great for Nottingham to once again host this unique city-wide event, drawing in world-class puppeteers from across the UK and Europe, providing a showcase of our richly diverse arts and culture scene, and engaging with communities across the city. I’m incredibly proud to see our cultural organisations coming together to provide city residents with such an entertaining, creative and inspiring programme of events. I would also like to thank Arts Council England for their continuing support of this festival.”

Peter Knott, Midlands Area Director, Arts Council England, said:We’re delighted to support The Nottingham Puppet Festival, thanks to money from National Lottery players. “This joyful event will bring world-class puppetry to the city, with stunning outdoor displays free for communities to enjoy. There’ll also be an exciting programme of creative workshops, talks, theatre shows and screenings with events taking place in libraries, schools, cultural venues and community spaces.”

View the Puppet Festival events happening at the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall

Nottingham Puppet Festival Website