Big Imaginations announces its 2017 festival of theatre for children & families


This Autumn Big Imaginations will celebrate and showcase the highest quality theatre for children and families in over 26 venues across the North West.

The Big Imaginations Festival is back and will be showcasing the best in children and family theatre with over 100 performances this autumn. Building on the success of the 2013 festival, this year promises to be bigger and even more brilliant than before.

The Festival takes place from the 19 October – 5 November at 26 venues across the North West and Yorkshire: from Liverpool’s Royal Philharmonic Hall to libraries, village halls and grand auditoriums. Spread across the key regions Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire, children and families are invited to choose from over 100 performances and experience the wonderful magic of children’s theatre.

The festival is the only one of its kind to take place in the North West and in 2013 attracted national interest, with CBeebies’ star Ben Faulks (Mr Bloom’s Nursery) and CBBC actress Victoria Cook (DNN, Wave) launching the festival at Media City. This year English radio and television presenter Anita Rani has partnered with Big Imaginations to help increase diversity of theatre. Anita commented:

“I grew up in Bradford and early theatre opportunities allowed me to see that a journey and career in the arts is possible for young people like me. Big Imaginations and lead partner Z-arts are committed to investing in the voice of diverse artists; paving the way for the best work for young people to truly reflect our society and beyond.”

The Festival will officially launch at the award-winning Just So Festival 2017 on Saturday the 19 of August where performance poet Joseph Coelho will perform an exclusively written poem for just a handful of families.

Children and their families can expect two weeks of brilliant children’s theatre beyond their wildest dreams. With an incredible mix of regional, national and international artists and performers, the Big Imaginations festival promises fantastic fun for families, transporting them to lands full of fairy tales (good and bad), amazing light shows, music from around the world, beautiful puppetry and ancient fables.

Immerse yourself in the best in children’s theatre from around the world. Polka Theatre will perform Child of the Divide, a poignant and compelling story of friendship, belonging, love and loss that takes place just after the Partition of India in newly-formed Pakistan.

For dance lovers, Darren Pritchard’s Body of Light weaves its magic through dance, presenting a seamless landscape of flowing images, where graphics bend effortlessly around the arcs of a live dancer, using Kinect technology.

Action Transport Theatre will perform their critically-acclaimed fairy tale Happily Ever Aftera story about a Prince who isn’t impressed with any of the princesses his mother wants him to marry, until one day a princess arrives accompanied by her brother…

There’s something for tinier tots too! Little Angel Theatre mix puppetry, live music and song in Handa’s Surprise, a vibrant story of a little girl in Kenya taking different fruits past a few mischievous animals to surprise her best friend. Come and share in the magical tangerine surprise!

Award-winning performance poet Joseph Coelho freshens up familiar children’s stories in his Fairytales Gone Bad, with two performances designed for children of different ages, Grannylocks/The Monstrous Duckling is aimed especially for children aged 3+ whilst Zombie-rella/Blood Red Hood is aimed at children aged 6+. Both performances use Joseph’s unique storytelling style to unwind the true stories behind the happily-ever-afters which are maybe not as charming as you remember.

Tales of Birbal by Mashi Theatre takes audiences on journeys around the world, using puppetry and humour to share the glorious richness and zest of traditional fables that have been loved across the Indian sub-continent for generations.

Last (but certainly not least) Adriano Adewale’s Catapluf’s Musical Journey will carry audiences on the wings of harmony and rhythm across the globe, creating a wonderful adventure where, in the hands of a team of talented musicians, everything is an instrument, from saxophones to saucepans!

The Big Imaginations Festival is the result of a year-round programme of children’s theatre in venues across the North West. Established in 2012, the network of venues has reached thousands of children and their families, inspiring them with the wonder of children’s theatre.

Liz O’Neill, CEO and Artistic Director of Z-arts – who lead the Big Imaginations network – says: “We’re incredibly excited to work with such inspiring artists and performers. The Big Imaginations Festival 2017 is going to be an unforgettable celebration of the best in theatre for children and families and we can’t wait to share it with audiences from the North West and beyond.”

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For further information, images, or for an interview / press review or ticket requests, please contact Laura Stevens at or 0161 232 6077.


Z-arts – Z-arts is Manchester’s only dedicated venue for children and family theatre and the leading partner in Big Imaginations, a consortium of North West venues and promoters bringing world class family theatre to the region. Z-arts mission is to inspire young people through all forms of art and help them begin their creative journey.

Big Imaginations – Big Imaginations is a region-wide group of venues and promoters dedicated to bringing brilliant children’s theatre to the North West. From grand auditoriums to rural village halls and everything in between, our mission is to spark the imagination of children aged 0-13 with the wonder of theatre. Big Imaginations has brought together 15 venues to make the North West’s children’s theatre offer bigger, better and more affordable.