News: Children's Festival announces its programme

23 March 2023

A group of children protest for their right to culture c. Cedric Audinot
A group of children protest for their right to culture c. Cedric Audinot

The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival has launched its exciting and timely programme for 2023, helped by a group of young children protesting for their rights to culture.

Find out what's on here.

  • 14 productions that represent work from 11 different countries unite in a programme that spans circus, comedy, dance, music, performance art, spoken word and theatre
  • Acceptance, gender, identity and mental health are explored in a programme that also covers timely topics such as environmentalism, power, protest and war.
  • Two new Scottish commissions are presented in the form of theatrical production Protest by Hannah Lavery, and dance piece Too Close to the Sun by Barrowland Ballet
  • The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival opens with the accessible Free Family Encounters day that takes place at the National Museum of Scotland on Saturday 27 May 2023

The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival launched its programme today, with an exciting line up of activities, events and performances for young people, schools, families, and industry professionals to immerse themselves within.

Showcasing world-leading work from across 11 different countries, the renowned festival will open from Saturday 27 May - Sunday 4 June 2023 offering a jam-packed programme of circus, comedy, dance, storytelling and theatre for young people.

This year, the programme remains international and includes a regional focus on Flanders, the Dutch-speaking Northern part of Belgium, one of the world’s leaders in producing innovative theatre and dance for young audiences.

From gender to identity, power to politics, the 2023 programme presents work that shines a light on topics of conversation that are taking place in the world right now. By showcasing art forms that explore personal or political ideas and thematics, young people are empowered to form their own connections to what is going on around them, in a timely presentation of leading performances in Scotland’s capital city.

This year’s programme includes two new Scottish commissions funded by the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund, that will be touring and reaching children beyond Edinburgh.

Protest by Hannah Lavery, directed by Natalie Ibu is co-commissioned and co-produced by Fuel, Imaginate and Northern Stage in association with National Theatre of Scotland. This bold new play explores what it takes to make a difference, the power of friendship, and the importance of believing in your own voice, as three girls prepare to stand up for what they believe in despite the injustices stacked against them.

Too Close to the Sun by Barrowland Ballet is inspired by the Greek legend of Icarus, and tells  the story of a girl weighed down by the responsibility of the climate crisis who learns to fly through sheer determination. The award-winning Barrowland Ballet use intricate choreography, spoken word and humour to tell this evocative new story.

Other highlights this year include, for younger audiences, BullyBully, a funny musical about childish world leaders who throw tantrums, or Murmur, an immersive show featuring an acrobatic composer, swirling speakers and a world full of sound.

There is also plenty for children aged 7 yrs+ including A Very Old man with Enormous Wings, a dark comic tale told through storytelling, music and puppetry or The Problem with Pink, which humorously questions gender stereotypes.

Festival Director, Noel Jordan said:
“We are delighted to announce this year’s Edinburgh International Children’s Festival programme which will present performances that are full of big ideas, epic stories and flamboyant physicality, which will help young audiences make sense of our sometimes conflicted world. The Festival cements its reputation for pushing the boundaries of what is expected of children’s theatre and dance, exploring important themes like mental health, war, identity and gender, all in joyful, visual and accessible ways. Some shows can be experienced as a whole family, while others focus on specific age ranges. We hope audiences will find the right adventure for them, whether at the free Family Encounters day at the National Museum of Scotland or at one of our 14 productions representing 11 different countries.”

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
“The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival gives children the opportunity to experience world class storytelling through a number of genres and the Scottish Government is proud to have provided support through our EXPO/PLaCE funds. Giving children the opportunity to attend these events, which range from comedy to circus, plays an important part in igniting their imaginations and creativity as well as contributing to their overall health and well-being.”

Head of Creative Learning at Creative Scotland Colin Bradie said:
“The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival presents the very best of performance work for children from across the world, as well as nurturing home-grown talent through two exciting co-commission, this year. The Festival’s colourful and engaging programme for 2023 is set to both inspire and challenge young audiences and their families, as well as nurturing valuable connections between the many artists and international producers, promoters and programmers who will gather in Edinburgh during May/June”. 

Festival tickets are now on sale.

Tickets can be booked online or by calling 0131 226 0019.