Skip to main content

Skipton International Puppet Festival Returns to Mesmerize Audiences

Skipton International Puppet Festival showcases the artistry and wonder of puppetry. Held biennially in Skipton, the festival brings together talented puppeteers from around the UK and Europe to entertain and inspire audiences of all ages. With captivating performances, workshops, and interactive experiences, the festival celebrates the magic of puppetry and fosters a love for this timeless art form.

Following a successful covid-adapted festival in 2021, the event is developing further in 2023 with an exciting partnership between Skipton Town Hall who will be taking the operational reigns and festival founders, Lempen Puppet Theatre Company, retaining a creative direction role; despite being slightly pared back from the 2019 celebrations due to the current funding climate, the format will incorporate the best of previous festivals and will take place in the first week of August, incorporating free outdoor performance, ticketed indoor performances, workshops, and outreach work.

Danielle Daglan, Cultural Services Manager, said “the team at Skipton Town Hall are thrilled to be involved with Skipton International Puppet Festival again this year, and delighted to have developed a new closer working relationship with festival founders Liz and Dan Lempen. With the strengths of all partners involved in the programming, planning and delivery we are excited about the future of the Puppet Festival in Skipton!”

Liz Lempen, festival founder, said “We are really happy that the full professional production team at Skipton Town Hall is now leading on development so the festival can grow into a more sustainable shape for the town. This gives us more space to concentrate on our own creative work at Lempen Puppet Theatre, whilst keeping a connection to the festival via creative programming.

It has been a very difficult time for arts funding but the commitment to keep the festival alive and kicking is strong and for 2023 there are some fabulous shows and experiences to enjoy so we would urge people to not miss out on a dose of high-quality puppet fun and to support the festival going forward.”

Among the highlights of this year’s festival is a special day of free puppet shows at Skipton Canal Basin on Saturday 5th August, kindly supported by Skipton BID. Families and puppet enthusiasts alike can gather at this picturesque location to enjoy a range of puppetry performances. Performances will include ‘Penny and the Far Thing’ by Lempen Puppet Theatre, ‘Festival!’ By Mark Whitaker Puppetry and ‘The Four Friends’ by Zannie Fraser.

Audiences at the canal basin will get the opportunity to meet ‘Zarafa Giraffa’. Over ten weeks in Spring, this full-size giraffe puppet walked 1000km through France, recreating the journey of a real giraffe from 200 years ago. Now, she’s coming to Skipton to be fitted with a new outer skin and decorated. Visitors are invited to help paint her, then join a procession round town to show off her fresh paint job!

Attendees through the week will be treated to an array of captivating shows in the Skipton Town Hall concert hall including: ‘Snip Snap! Rapunzel Retold’ – full of humour, magic and surprising costume transformations, the show reimagines the familiar with enchanting original imagery and playful glove puppets.

‘Dragon’ by Life & Limb Puppets is a visually stunning, fantasy-genre puppetry show mixing cutting-edge projection and digital animation with beautiful live puppetry, performed by a cast of 3 to a soaring original score.

‘Anansi & the Lost Sun’ by Swallow’s Wing Puppetry celebrates African & Caribbean culture, with the aim to enchant, entertain, educate, and build cross-generational dialogue.

‘To Have Or Not To Have’ by TAMTAM Objektentheater is a rusty fairy tale full of beautiful images with undeniable elements of the spaghetti-western, a shot of Shakespeare and a generous dose of subtle humour.

Teach Rex presents ‘A Dragon’s Tale’, an interactive, nail-biting tale about bravery! The show has been created by teachers to inspire young minds.

Beware… the Teach Rex Dinosaurs will be left to run loose around Skipton on Friday 4th August! Get ready for a thrilling adventure as these life-sized creatures roam the streets. Witness their incredible presence and learn fascinating facts about dinosaurs.

A range of interactive workshops will also be on offer. Dogs’ Dales will be hosting a ‘Large Mascot Puppet Head Making Workshop’ and a ‘Musical Song Making Workshop’, Swallow’s Wing Puppetry will host a ‘Rooster Puppet Workshop’, Life & Limb Puppets will run a ‘Dragon Workshop’ and Skipton Town Hall will hold puppet themed editions of Art Club and Craven Museum Make & Take free family crafts.

The festival takes place from the 2nd– 6th August 2023