Edinburgh International Children’s Festival 2021 Launches with Fresh Imagination

The annual Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (EICF), that’s produced by imaginate, Scotland’s national organisation that promotes and celebrates theatre and dance for children and young people, has launched its 2021 programme. This year, after many months of planning, the result is a programme that will be a hybrid of digital and outdoor events.

The Festival’s digital programme will include streamed performances such as Removed, that is the story of a young man’s experience of the care system, and live digital interactions such as The University of Wonder & Imagination that is a live magic show over Zoom.

From the only disabled-led theatre company in Scotland, Birds of Paradise, comes The Super Special Disability Roadshow that is a multi-media show based on stories and experiences of disabled children and adults that contrasts  growing up  disabled today to the experience of the‘80s. 

In a co-production with Starcatchers, Mixed Up is an interactive performance created by artist Katy Wilson that explores the feelings young children experience in turbulent times, using painting, music and hip-hop dance that can be engaged with online and outdoors.

The Festival also features two brand new commissions by companies and artists based in Scotland and supported by the Scottish Government Festivals Expo Fund.

To complement the online offer, the EICF programme includes Family Encounters, thatis a series of free pop-up performances happening in outdoor spaces across Edinburgh in the first and last weekend of the Festival. The specially commissioned and curated events involving over 100 artists and freelancers, who will be paid whether or not  their performance is allowed to happen, will showcase the talent of Scotland-based artists who have created a range of site-specific encounters for families inspired by  practical challenges brought on by Covid-19.

For the most part, the Family Encounters programme will take place in the grounds of Scotland’s leading international research organisation, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, that delivers knowledge and plant conservation action around the world, and where currently time slots have to be booked to comply with Covid restrictions.  Other site-specific venues are in Granton and Craigmillar where families can expect adventure trails; a basketball inspired hip-hop workshop; a giant swing or a mysterious tree spirit hidden in the garden.

Festival Director Noel Jordan said, There are so many things to celebrate about this year’s Children’s Festival. We are proud to be able to offer paid work to so many Scottish artists, freelancers and companies, from an industry that has almost been at a standstill for over a year. Most importantly, we are appreciative and inspired by the opportunity to be able to present much need arts and culture to children, young people and their families at this time of need. As our community re-emerges from lockdown now is the time to enjoy the world of wonder, curiosity and connectedness that the arts can offer us.”

This year’s EICF is supported by Creative Scotland, the City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Government Festivals Expo Fund and the Platforms for Creative Excellence (PLACE) programme. Support to individual shows comes from EventScotland, The Foyle Foundation, Cirrus Logic and the Walter Scott Giving Group; Culture Ireland; Watson’s Trust and the Cruden Foundation; the Hugh Fraser Foundation and the Educational Institute of Scotland, with additional support for the 2021 Festival provided by the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and the Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh.

EICF runs from 25th May till 6th June with tickets and more information available now at the Imaginate website.

 Irene Brown

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