A look back on another brilliant year at Z-arts!

It’s been a pretty big year for Z-arts, we’ve discovered worlds inside books, we’ve sailed down rivers, we’ve gotten lost in libraries and we’ve gone wild in wellies. We’ve travelled from jungles in India to Shakespeare’s Verona and all the way back to Hulme again. There’s been singing and dancing and beatboxing puppets, adventures and bedtimes and stories from drag queens, fun days and movies and an entire theatre festival – and that’s not all of it! Join us as we take a look back at 2019…


5 More Minutes kick started the year like a dream, and then we went straight Over The Moon with a first opera for babies. Next we travelled to fair Verona for Romeo and Juliet: Mad Blood Stirring had us on the edge of our seats before continuing to India in search of some very yummy Stripey Honey. We headed to the woods for some serious fun with Four Go Wild in Wellies, followed closely by the sound and vision of Big Up! The spring season was rounded off by the mess and madness of Muckers and closed with a building-wide live art takeover of Haphazard.

Summer saw us back to beat-boxing with the incredible Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure for Kids! We were joined by the gorgeous Night Bus for Drag Queen Storytime before sailing upstream with Mole and Gecko: The Show! for an interactive rap adventure. The beautifully crafted Stick By Me was next, before Mellow Baku and Hulme is Where the Art Is sang us into the summer holidays.

And then we started our busiest Autumn season yet! Starting just after Little Monster entertained all our little monsters, the Big Imaginations Festival brought the best in children and family theatre to the North. From Liverpool to Manchester, Sheffield to Rossendale, companies from all over the world thrilled audiences. Here at Z-arts, the lights and sounds of Stitch Brothers Patchwork Wonders kicked off the festival, followed by some hi-tech clowning from the Netherlands in iPet and the spooky story of The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps. Mini came all the way from Italy for a beautiful game of contrasts before Kaleidoscope dazzled our youngest audiences with a journey through colour.

As November turned into December, the Night Bus returned for another Drag Queen Storytime before we were straight into the festive season with the marital madness of The Scarecrows’ Wedding and the cosy bedtime world of Twinkle Twinkle to round off our excellent year!


Even though there was not a second of free time to be filled, we sandwiched all our shows with our hugely popular events. The Ministry of Lost and Found returned to take over Manchester Central Library once more, filling the space with colourful characters and amazing adventures. We welcomed some magnificent musicians to our Family Jam nights as part of Friday Night is Family Night. We showed films and showcased our Bright Sparks dance moves and dramatic moments. Our Z-access Family Fun Days returned with a bang, opening our building to hundreds of people with accessible activities and shows.

A World Inside a Book: Gruffalos, Dragons and Other Creatures

And of course, 2019 would not be complete without talking about our amazing immersive exhibition A World Inside a Book: Gruffalos, Dragons and Other Creatures. From February to December, thousands of people explored the wonderful worlds created by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. We had live appearances from Julia and Axel, and the Gruffalo himself even came to visit a couple of times! The exhibition encouraged audiences to embrace their imagination and tell stories as they wandered through the woods and found Room on the Broom. Children and grown-ups of all ages were enchanted by this incredible experience, and Z-arts won’t feel the same without it – but make sure you have a look at who’s visiting us next year…

Wow! What a year! We’ve had an amazing time and we hope you did too – see you in the new year for more art, more activities, and even more fun!

Happy New Year from all of us at Z-arts!

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