Nottingham Puppet Festival was first launched in 2018, and was produced in partnership by Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, City Arts and Nottingham Trent University. It was made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England with additional support from Nottingham City Council, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and Midlands3Cities.
The city-wide, community-focused Festival was a celebration of puppets and puppetry. Over four days (22 – 25 March 2018) every corner of the city is filled with puppetry performances from local, national and international artists, commissioned new work, digital puppets, a large-scale puppetry parade along with workshops and talks and screenings from key figures in the puppetry world. The festival was incredibly successful, and so a new highlight in Nottingham’s arts calendar was born, with the festival becoming a biennial event in the city.
The second festival was scheduled for May 2020, however the global pandemic resulted in its cancellation and so we are delighted to finally produce the festival in June 2021. At a time when many events and organisations are slowly re-opening their doors, Nottingham Puppet Festival will also be there to welcome people with fun and puppetry.
Puppets are so good at telling stories in a way that reality can’t – from the most basic to the most intricate. One example of just what puppetry can do is the National Theatre / Handspring Theatre celebrated production of War Horse. It was this production’s appearance at the Royal Concert Hall in 2018 that was the impetus to do something really special for the city and its communities and the idea of a puppet festival was born. Our 2018 festival told stories about grief and loss; about venturing into outer space or the wild seas about the horrors of war. Puppets can take you to incredible worlds, as well as allow you to experience the sheer delight and entertainment of puppetry and seeing up close the skills of puppeteers from all around the world. This celebration of the art form remains at the heart of Nottingham Puppet Festival.
A Festival for everyone
One of the Festival focuses is on creating opportunities for disabled artists and participants, as well as encouraging new audiences through things such as outdoor performances, street-theatre and free workshops. A three-month community engagement programme precedes the main event. There is also a focus on developing greater advocacy of puppetry as an artform, with opportunities for artist development.