East Anglian Children’s Art Festival returns to Bury St Edmunds

Once Upon A Festival show Tiddler and Other Tales

Once Upon A Festival show Tiddler and Other Tales - Credit: Archant

Need help keeping the kids entertained? Event looks at this year’s Once Upon a Festival, running June 12-26.

Once Upon A Festival show The Lost Story

Once Upon A Festival show The Lost Story - Credit: Archant

Launched by the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, last year the festival is back - bigger and better than before with more than 60 live performances from leading national and international companies.

“I’m really delighted the theatre is producing the second East Anglian Children’s Arts Festival which we have named Once Upon a Festival.” says Karen Simpson, artistic director.

“We’ve a really exciting line-up of shows this year and are presenting work right across the region in schools, village halls and arts venues including Theatre Royal, The Apex and Conservatoire East and in a wonderful tent in the grounds of the cathedral. The festival spans three weekends and there are many different ways to get involved.” Making Once Upon a Festival a reality is down to a £15,000 Arts Council grant and the help of 11 local councillors from St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council who are supporting professional performances in 16 schools with £9,600.

Continued sponsor Taylor Wimpey has donated £2,000. Hayden Dolby, financial director for Taylor Wimpey East Anglia, adds: “We’re very pleased to be able to support the Theatre Royal again this year. The festival is an incredibly worthwhile event which will give children the opportunity to experience live performances and workshops, so we’re delighted to get involved.”

Once Upon a Festival show Fairytales Gone Bad

Once Upon a Festival show Fairytales Gone Bad - Credit: Archant


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Highlights include family favourites Pinocchio and Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, adaptations of Julia Donaldson’s Tiddler and Other Tales and The Gruffalo’s Child while circus act In Situ Circus and Tell Tale hearts perform the open air show The Wind and The Sun.

There are weekend tickets on Sunday, June 19, where you can enjoy baby discos, circus and classic stories. There are fun-filled evening performances at Conservatoire East, Disco Bambino at the Athenaeum, films at The Apex and an opening day at the Theatre Royal with the Dragon Festival rounding things off on the final weekend.

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What’s on where and when

Once Upon a Festival show The Wind and The Sun

Once Upon a Festival show The Wind and The Sun - Credit: Archant

Sunday, June 12

Launch day, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, 11am-3pm: Storytelling, treasure trails, the chance to try on costumes plus torytelling by Hatty at 11.30am, 1pm and 2.30pm.

The Lost Story, Mildenhall Library, 11.30am and 1.30pm: unfolding to the sounds of the 1970s Nicky Mcroy brings a wonderful cast of characters to life and inspires us to believe we each have our own story to tell.

Once Upon a Festival show Graffiti Classics

Once Upon a Festival show Graffiti Classics - Credit: Archant

Monday, June 13

Spot, John Peel Centre, Stowmarket, 10,30am: Stage light Spot can be the yellow sun, the blue sea or red fire; a balloon, a hoop or nothing at all. Most of all it loves to tell stories.

Graffiti Classics, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, 10am: 16 strings, eight dancing feet, four voices, one aim - to make classical music wickedly funny.

Once Upon a Festival show Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes

Once Upon a Festival show Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes - Credit: Archant

Tuesday, June 14

Portmanteau, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, 4.30pm: Enter a 1940s travelling cinema, complete with a high brow pianist who’s not really sure how he came to be playing here.

The Gruffalo’s Child, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, 1.30pm and 4.30pm: One wild and windy night the Gruffalo’s child ignores her father’s warning and tiptoes out into the snow. Also 10.30am and 1.30pm Wednesday, June 15.

Once Upon a Festival show Portmanteau. Photo: Laurent Quinkal

Once Upon a Festival show Portmanteau. Photo: Laurent Quinkal - Credit: Archant

Saturday, June 18

Fairytales Gone Bad, St Edmundsbury Cathedral Gardens, 11am and 2.15pm: Performance poet Joseph Coelho unravels familiar fairytales to create fresh contemporary classics.

Once Upon a Festival show Spot

Once Upon a Festival show Spot - Credit: Archant

Sunday, June 19

Disco Bambino, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, 10.15am and 2pm: The Athenaeum becomes a family-friendly club with lots of creative activities.

The Wind and The Sun, 12.30pm and 4.15pm: Outdoor circus theatre show based on the original fable by Aesop that celebrates the good old British weather.

Pinocchio, Theatre Royal, 5.15pm, Theatre Royal: The child’s classic springs to life.

Once Upon a Festival show Boogie The Junk Orchestra

Once Upon a Festival show Boogie The Junk Orchestra - Credit: Archant

Tuesday, June 21

Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, 1.30pm and 4.30pm: Under the sea, out on the farm and into the jungle, tales are woven together with live music, puppetry and a host of colourful characters.

Wednesday, June 22

Into the West, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, 6pm: What would happen if a glorious white horse came out of a sea-mist and into your troubled life?

Friday, June 24

Boogie – The Junk Orchestra, Conservatoire EAST, Bury St Edmunds, 4.15pm: Discover, play, dance, and build.

Little Howard, Conservatoire EAST, Bury St Edmunds, 6pm: The world’s only live interactive animation.

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes Double Bill, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, 2pm and 7pm: Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. Also 3pm Saturday, June 25.

Saturday, June 25–Sunday, June 26

Dragon Festival, West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, 10am–5pm: Fossils, folklore and legend.

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