Imaginate 2023

May 23 2023 | By More

Edinburgh International Children’s Festival

This year’s Edinburgh International Children’s Festival features a total of 14 productions that represent work from 11 different countries in a programme that spans circus, comedy, dance, music, performance art and spoken word as well as theatre.

The festival opens this Saturday 27 May 2023 with a day of free pop-up performances and artist interventions for families in the National Museum of Scotland. Full scale public performances start on Sunday 28 May and continue through to Sunday 4 June.

A scene from I… Er… Me from Het Houten Huis & Nordland Visual Theater – The Netherlands and Norway

The productions are aimed at a variety of age ranges from two years to mid-teens. Most productions are on for three or four days only; and this year they are staged in eight venues across the city.

Festival Director, Noel Jordan says: “The Festival cements its reputation for pushing the boundaries of what is expected of children’s theatre and dance, exploring important themes like mental health, war, identity and gender – all in joyful, visual and accessible ways.

“Some shows can be experienced as a whole family, while others focus on specific age ranges. We hope audiences will find the right adventure for them, whether at the free Family Encounters day at the National Museum of Scotland or at one of our 14 productions representing 11 different countries.”

The Imaginate website carries a useful What’s On page here, where you can filter productions by age-appropriateness and date. You can also download a full festival programme and book tickets. The festival box office is at the Traverse.


Here we list performances first by venue and then by date.

Assembly Roxy
2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU
9 to 5
Mon 29 – Wed 31 May 2023
Mon/Tue: 10am, 1pm; Wed: 1pm, 7pm.
Running time: 55 mins
Ages: 5 – 10 years. (Nevski Prospekt: Belgium)
Herman is a creature of habit. Each day is the same. He takes the subway to work, files papers, and returns home to unwind in exactly the same orderly fashion. But something happens that suddenly turns his routine and life upside down, and soon things get out of hand!  Tickets and Details.

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
Fri 2 – Sun 4 June 2023
Fri: 10.30am, 6.30pm; Sat: 1.30pm, 6.30pm; Sun: noon, 3pm.
Running time: 50 mins
Ages: 8 – 13 years. (Riverbank Arts Centre and Dan Colley: Ireland)
In a kitchen, in a theatre, two storytellers and their audience find something remarkable — a very old man with enormous wings. The priest says he’s an imposter. Pilgrims flock to see him. Using a combination of music, puppetry and live video projection this magic-realist gem is brought to the stage with beautiful, strange, emotional richness. Tickets and details.

14-16 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU
You are Here
Thurs 1 – Sat 4 June 2023
Thurs: 10am, 11.30am, 2pm; Fri: 9.30am, 11am; Sat: 10am, 11.30am, 3.30pm; Sun: 11am, 2pm.
Running time: 30 mins + 15 min stay and play.
Ages: 2 – 6 years. (Madam Bach: Denmark)
A beautiful and gentle performance about finding your way in the world – and within yourself. We meet a girl who finds her way to the bakery and back again all by herself, explores a forest of signs and symbols and uses the stars to guide us across the sea.  Tickets and details.

George Square Theatre
32 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LH
The Problem with Pink
Tue 30 May – Fri 2 June 2023
Tue – Thurs: 10.45am, 1.15pm; Fri: 10.45am, 7pm.
Running time: 50 mins.
Ages: 6 – 12. (Le Petit Théâtre de Sherbrooke and La parenthèse / Christophe Garcia, Canada and France)
The problem with pink is that it’s everywhere! So if pink is just for girls, things might get complicated. Tickets and Details.

Lyra at Artspace
11 Harewood Rd, Edinburgh EH16 4NT
… And the Ideas Soar
Mon 29 – Wed 31 May 2023
Mon: 10.15am, 2pm; Tue: 10am, 11.30am, 2pm; Wed: 10.15am.
Running time: 35 minutes
Ages: 2 – 5 Years. (Animal Religion: Spain),
In a circular space bordered by a glowing ribbon, a performer creates a world of sound and light in this contemporary circus show where objects seem to have a life of their own. Through movement, sound and touch, the audience is invited to take part in this journey full of acrobatics, humour, play, light and music.  Tickets and Details.
Hello Hands and Feet
Wed 31 May – Fri 2 June 2023
Wed & Thurs: 2pm, Thurs & Fri: 10am, 11.30am.
Running time: 35 mins
Ages: 5 – 10 years (ASN). (Animal Religion: Spain),
A specifically adapted version for autistic children of …And the Ideas Soar. Walking in to the circular stage, light, sound and movement get together in a calm and welcoming atmosphere. Tickets and Details.

Southside Community Centre
117 Nicolson Street EH8 9ER.
Der Lauf
Sun 28 – Tue 30 May 2023
Sun: 3pm, 7pm, Mon: 10.45am, 1.15pm; Tue: 1.15pm, 7pm.
Ages: 8 – 13. (Vélocimanes Associés – Le Cirque du Bout du Monde: Belgium and France)
In a dark and absurd universe of enigmatic games, we meet a man with a bucket on his head. With a touch of David Lynch and a nod to the long-running French TV game show Intervilles, a juggler moves blindly through a series of bizarre experiments. The audience is his only guide, come what may. Once begun, nothing can stop the journey, and one thing is certain… in the end, destruction awaits. Tickets and details.

Studio Theatre
The Studio, 22 Potterrow, EH8 9BL.
Mon 29 – Wed 31 May 2023
Mon: 1.30pm, 7.15pm, Tue/Wed: 10am, 1pm.
Running time: 50 mins.
Ages: 8 – 13. (Written by Hannah Lavery and directed by Natalie Ibu: Scotland and England)
Three girls prepare to challenge the status quo and tackle injustices in this new play exploring the power of friendship, activism and the believing in your own voice. Tickets and details.
Thurs 1 – Sun 4 JUne 2023
Thurs: noon, 2pm, Fri: 10.45am, 2.30pm; Sat/Sun: 11am, 2.30pm.
Running time: 45 mins.
Ages: 4 – 9 Years. (Grensgeval: Belgium)
An immersive sound theatre experience, with murmuring backpacks, a landscape of scattered tiny speakers and an acrobatic composer. A fizzing new circus sound theatre for all the senses.  Tickets and Details.

1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL.
Thurs 1 – Sun 4 June 2023
Thurs: 1.45pm, 7pm; Fri: 10.45am; Sat: 2.30pm, 7pm, Sun: 11.30am, 3pm.
Running time: 60 mins.
Ages: 7 – 15 Years. (Los Galindos: Spain)
The four-strong cast explores a roller coaster of emotional and physical confrontations using circus-style acrobatics, bicycles, carpets and farcical nonsense. Sitting on the edge of the stage in the round, audiences are taken on an intimate journey encompassing moments of supreme ridiculousness and instances of soaring grace. Tickets and details.

10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED. Phone booking: 0131 228 1404.
I… er… Me
Sun 28/Mon 29 May 2023
Sun: 2pm, 5pm; Mon: 1.15pm, 7pm.
Running time: 1 hour.
Ages: 8 – 15 years. (Het Houten Huis & Nordland Visual Theater: The Netherlands and Norway)
A powerful performance exploring what it’s like to lose your grip on reality. This astonishing show is set within a rotating box where the main character perfoms his daily routine, moving effortlessly between bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and office. Trap doors open, hidden objects are revealed, all timed precisely and seemingly defying gravity. Tickets and details.
Somewhere Else
Mon 29 – Wed 31 May 2023
Mon – Weds: 10.30am, 1.45pm.
Running time: 45 mins.
Ages: 7 – 13 years. (Ljubljana Puppet Theatre: Slovenia).
A touching story about a girl caught in the middle of a war. Through her eyes we observe a city marked by terror, violence and fear. But also hope. This story about the absurdity of war is sensitively told through a child’s simple everyday life and is vividly translated through the inventive use of a school blackboard as a spinning immersive setting. Tickets and details.

Too Close to the Sun
Wed 31 May – Sat 3 June 2023
Wed/Thurs: 10am, 1.15pm; Fri 10.15am, 7pm; Sat: 2pm, 7pm.
Running time: 50 mins.
Ages: 7 – 13 years. (Barrowland Ballet: Scotland)
Inspired by the Greek legend of Icarus, this is the story of a girl weighed down by the responsibility of the environmental crisis. She dreams of the boy Icarus and begins to work out her escape. This is the story of a girl who’s learning to fly. Tickets and details.
Bully Bully
Thurs 1 – Sun 4 June 2023
Thurs: 1.45pm, 4.30pm; Fri – Sun: 10.45am, 2.15pm (Traverse 2)
Running time: 50 Mins.
Ages: 3 – 7 years. (Maas Theater & Dance: The Netherlands)
Two world leaders meet in no man’s land. A clash of culture, the collision of two world powers. What follows is an awkward encounter between two childish but powerful adults. Tickets and Details.


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