Family Arts Fest bigger & brighter than ever

Get Creative Family Arts Festival is bigger and brighter than ever with a kaleidoscope of events throughout October 2016

from The Railway Children to Snowdogs

The Martlet's Snowdogs by the Sea campaign on Brighton's Palace Pier this evening The dogs will go on show in September as part of the art trail raising money for the local Martlet's Hospice Please Credit - Simon Dack / Vervate
Photo Simon Dack/Vervate

The fourth edition of the Get Creative Family Arts Festival presents an extraordinary variety of activities for the whole family, suitable for all age groups during October 2016.

From site specific public art, award-winning musicals and plays, innovative performances and workshops to spectacular science shows, the festival covers activities across a wide spectrum of disciplines.

Essential listings for families wanting to experience something new can be found at where you can search by postcode, date, artform or age suitability. The Family Arts Standards badge tells you that whether they’re a theatre, an art gallery, an orchestra or a dance company, the organization will be welcoming to families, with helpful staff, good facilities, considered pricing and information to help families decide what is or isn’t suitable for them and their children.

Organisations including Southbank Centre, Wigmore Hall, National Portrait Gallery, HOME, Opera North, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Battersea Arts Centre, Dance Umbrella, Black Theatre Live, Nottingham Playhouse, Victoria Art Gallery, Artes Mundi and St. David’s Hall among others, are already signed up for this year’s programme.

“As an orchestra, Sinfonia Viva is always looking for new audiences, and one of the most important ways we reach out to them is through the Family Arts Festival. For us it’s a chance to inspire people of all ages, to pass on our love of music to families, and to show why we are so passionate about what we do.” Peter Helps, Chief Executive, Sinfonia Viva

The festival in numbers:

  • 31 days packed with high quality arts activity
  • Over 800 organisations took part in the 2015 festival
  • Around 500,000 family members attended one of the 4,000 festival events across the UK in 2015.

Some festival highlights:

Snowdogs by the Sea

Unquestionably one of the most joyful festival attractions, these playful sculptures are so much more than a public art trail adorning Brighton and Hove’s streets, parks and surprise locations. Inspired by the animated short film The Snowman and The Snowdog, which is based on the book by Raymond Briggs, each of the 40 giant Snowdogs has its own, unique character and is specially decorated by artists. A pack of Snowdog puppy sculptures, designed by school children, will also join the art trail at Brighton Museum, Hove Museum and Jubilee library throughout the event.

To infinity and beyond! Family Arts Festival in space…

With astronaut Tim Peake having reignited our passion for space exploration, the festival offers some educational, inspiring and quirky cosmic treats. Internationally acclaimed beat-boxer Shlomo retells how studying astrophysics led him to become a performer, TV astronomer and author Mark Thompson promises to bring the Universe a little closer with his Spectacular Science show, while The Ministry of Science Live is looking at the inventors who shaped the modern world we live in. At the same time, The Courtyard Centre for Arts in Hereford is organising an unpredictable Space Jam including aerial performances, dance shows, storytelling from the Space and the essential lightsaber combat workshop for Star Wars fans. The boy who climbed into the moon, based on the book by David Almond and adapted by Daniel Jamieson, the acclaimed production of Alfie White Space Explorer, Underneath a Magical Moon by leading playwright Mike Kenny, and the multimedia solo performance The Unparalleled Adventure of one Hans Pfaall all exploring the fascinating worlds of outer space.

Theatre delights

BAFTA award-winning presenter Justin Fletcher, AKA Mr Tumble, is stepping into the role of Stationmaster Mr Perks for one month only, making the popular stage adaptation of E. Nesbit’s classic novel The Railway Children.  Another festival ‘must-see’ event will be Chittty Chitty Bang Bang with an all-star cast including Jason Manford as Caractacus Potts, Claire Sweeney as Baroness Bomburst and Phill Jupitus as Lord Scrumptious.

Continuing its relationship with award-winning author and former Patron Michael Morpurgo, the festival is proud to include in its programme The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, a “life-affirming” tender story of war and prejudice, and Why the whales came an enchanting tale brought to life by award-winning performer and storyteller Danyah Miller. War Horse: The Story in Concert, features Michael Morpurgo as narrator, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra performing a specially arranged score. Drawing live on stage Olivier, Tony and OBIE award-winning British designer Rae Smith will create animated illustrations of the book.

There are six events in the festival dedicated to the Shakespeare 400 anniversary celebrations. The bard’s greatest tragedy Hamlet is presented by an all black cast, for the first time in Britain, under the direction of Jeffery Kissoon. Adapted especially for young audiences, Macbeth (Blood Will Have Blood) re-tells the timeless story of ambition, greed and abuse of power, while the productions of The Tempest, Bardolph’s Box and Romeo and Juliet make Shakespeare’s work accessible to toddlers and kids.

Music makers

Young British conductor Nicholas Collon brings all his colour and flair to an orchestral showcase The Spirit Of England with soprano Susan Gritton and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with the CBSO Chorus. LPO FUNharmonics. Tales from the North is a musical adventure inspired by the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s celebration of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, featuring the weird and wonderful world of folk tales from northern lands as well as elves, boggarts, kings and queens. The Grand Union Youth Orchestra is London’s pioneering world music and jazz youth ensemble, and will be inviting young musicians to explore the world’s major musical cultures with players of non-Western instruments particularly welcome.  The Royal Albert Hall will host My Great Orchestra Adventure with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, there are Lullaby Concerts across the country.

Tech for families

Mac Explorers: Digital Music Making is suitable for children aged 6 to 11 years old, and  open to all ability levels. Children learn how to create their own bass-lines and beats and produce their very first track. Drawing With Light is part of Swansea’s purple flag weekend. Just drop in and start drawing or writing in the air, using glow sticks and torches, then photograph your very own light drawings.

Dance for everyone

The Big Fish Little Fish crew are bringing the award-winning, critically acclaimed family rave back to the festival. Legendary DJs Steve Thorpe, The Orb, and Gershwin present their sets on a multisensory dance-floor with club visuals, glitter cannon, bubbles, giant bouncy balloons and the famous parachute dance. Complete with free glowsticks & transfer tattoos. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre continues to wow audiences and critics around the world. The show will include new works by some of today’s most acclaimed choreographers, as well as Ailey classics including the beloved crowd-pleaser Revelations, the most widely-seen modern dance work in the world.  An exhilarating rollercoaster of a show, Dream City is a dance party where seven musicians and dancers share the stage. The music propels the dancers on as they play games of daring and exuberant one-upmanship, creating organised chaos as they go.

Inspirational people

The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl. Embark on a magical and interactive journey and discover the secrets of a writer beloved by children of all ages. Learn about Roald Dahl’s extraordinary life and the surprising inspiration for his most famous characters and stories. The tour features unique items from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre archives. Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things is a brand-new exhibition about Michael Rosen’s most popular books. Through hidden rooms and brilliant clues families can discover what inspired the author’s writing. “This exhibition is one of the most exciting things to have happened in my writing career… I am so looking forward to it.”. Steve Backshall’s Wild World. Wildlife TV Presenter, adventurer, naturalist and children’s author, Steve Backshall, takes you on a tour of the real life expeditions that have inspired his books The Falcon Chronicles and his new novel in the series, Shark Seas.

Stories from around the world on film

Africa United is an award-winning comedy directed by Debs Gardner-Paterson. It depicts the adventures of three Rwandan children who sneak onto a bus to the capital city Kiwali, to audition for the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup. Kirikou and the Sorceress is written and directed by Michel Ocelot. The internationally acclaimed animation film drawns on elements from West African folk tales to narrate the story of a very small but very brave boy. When his village is terrorised by an evil sorceress, baby Kirikou sets off an intrepid quest to save his friends and neighbours.

Aspirational art, hands-on art

One of the most important art exhibitions in the world, Artes Mundi 7,  opens in Cardiff on 21 October.  Families will be able to see outstanding work from around the world by contemporary international artists at the top of their game – including amazing film, sculpture, performances and installations. There will also be free workshops for families. At the Foundling Museum there will be art workshops of a completely different kind, where families can learn to make paintings from fruit and vegetables.  How old do you need to be to drive? Ready Steady Go is an immersive theatre piece where the audience creates, decorates and drives cardboard cars.

To take part register and upload events at


6 August 2016