Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival returns for its 18th birthday in 2019
Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival turns eighteen in 2019 – but it’s nowhere near growing up! The annual festival returns 13-24 February 2019 for a half-term week of the best in children’s theatre, comedy, family parties, hands-on activities, DJs, dance, immersive experiences and full-on fun for children and their grownups. With more than 180 events jam-packed into twelve days and fifty percent of the festival completely free, Imagine is the biggest festival of its kind in London. It is dedicated to families experiencing and enjoying all kinds of art and culture together.
The multi-arts line-up for 2019 includes former Children’s Laureates and creators of some of the best-loved characters in UK children’s literature, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and Chris Riddell, coming together on the Royal Festival Hall stage to celebrate 20 years of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate; a London-wide storytelling game of ‘consequences’ involving more than 1,300 school children with poet Joseph Coelho; an interactive sensory SoundPit installation using music and motion-capture technology to explore the phenomenon of synaesthesia; Sue Perkins conducting the Orion Orchestra’s Noisy Notes; David McKee, author and illustrator of Elmer the Elephant, in an exclusive event celebrating the 30th birthday of his popular patchwork friend; and Peppa Pig’s first concert with a full-size orchestra conducted – for the first time ever – by Mummy Pig.
The Kids Takeover returns for another year, giving a group of children the chance to take the reins of the festival alongside the Southbank Centre team in all areas of the festival production, from contributing to the line-up to selling programmes, making tannoy announcements and ensuring shows start on time.
Tamsin Ace, Festival Programmer, Southbank Centre, said:
“Imagine festival is for kids, by kids. This year we are bursting at the seams with activities and events to inspire, engage and entertain. With the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room reopening in April 2018, after two years’ refurbishment, we’re back to full capacity across our 17-acre site – which just means more fun for everyone! I’m particularly proud of the increase in BSL interpreted, Relaxed and accessible events. We’ll also be live-streaming the League of Laureates and Elmer’s 30th Birthday events to Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, in Newcastle, beaming top quality content to the other end of the country. All of this means that even more families will discover something incredible together at Southbank Centre’s Imagine.”
This year a giant game of ‘consequences’ has been taking place across the city led by celebrated children’s author Joseph Coelho. The Imagine Schools Writing Project involves more than 36 London primary schools, and 1,300 students aged 7-11. Since November, children across the city have been working together to write separate sections of one story, inspired by Joseph’s work and supported by a teaching framework. These story segments will be combined together to make one complete and truly imaginative super-story which will be performed by Joseph at Imagine for the student authors, their teachers and families. The project aims to inspire and support children as creative writers and motivate them to continue to develop their writing and reading back in school and beyond, as well as support teachers to guide creative writing in the classroom.
Free events include this year’s Book in a Day, the best selling novel, award-winning franchise and big-screen adaptation by Cressida Cowell, How To Train Your Dragon. The whole book will be read over the course of the day, with special guests and live performances to be announced, and a free book signing from Cressida Cowell herself (23 Feb, Clore Ballroom, RFH). Plus events and activities popping up all across the Southbank Centre site every day during the festival, including The Story Museum Oxford’s Time for Bed – an enormous storytelling bed complete with patchwork quilt families can cuddle up on together, Morning Music Time and Bedtime Stories to ease children in and out of the day, a giant chalkboard and a huge playground designed by Anna Bruder on the Riverside Terrace, and The Rig: a musical playground for all the family built from recycled objects (13-24 Feb, various venues, Southbank Centre).
Images courtesy of the Southbank Centre.