Book Festival 2022 : 13th – 29th August

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is opening this weekend and we’re very very excited. It’s an oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of the fringe, and the festival village at the art school is a great place to spend an afternoon….

You can look at the list of all the children’s events here – there are 150 events, activities and workshops for children and young adults. 

There are lots of ways to enjoy this year’s festivities: join at in-person to take in the great atmosphere, enjoy free screenings of live events on the big screen in the Courtyard, or watch online from the comfort of your own home.

The Book Festival Village at Edinburgh College of Art on Lauriston Place is open daily from 9.30am until late – entry is free. The Festival Bookshop located in the beautiful old Fire Station building stocks titles by all the visiting authors and has an area dedicated to children stacked to the rafters with hundreds of titles, from classic picture books for budding readers through to contemporary teen fiction.

There are free drop in events too – including :

  • Meet some of your favourite picture book characters! Head on down to the Courtyard to join animal friends Pip and Posy, meet the Gruffalo or embrace being who you are with Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. A picture book character will appear every Saturday and Sunday of the Festival, with details on when each is appearing here.
  • Join Festival favourites Sprog Rock as they create their own mini music festival on the outdoor Courtyard Stage! Live, interactive, lots of fun for babies and youngsters of all ages – and their family and friends. (Sat 27 Aug 10:00 – 11:00)
  • Storytelling panto dame Mama G, plus some very special guests, to the Courtyard Stage for stories and songs in this cheerful celebration of acceptance, inclusion and love suitable for all ages. (Sat 27 Aug 11:30 – 13:30)
  • From 22-26 August they’re bringing the outdoors inside in the Baillie Gifford Storytime Yurt with Woodland Wonderland. Immerse yourself in beautiful woodland décor, unwind with the ambient sounds of nature and relax in the glow of atmospheric lighting for a moment of calm amidst the Festival fun.
  • Visit Dr Book in the Book Festival Bookshop to discover your next great read! Drop in for a quick consultation and receive a reading prescription – tailored to your or your little one’s tastes – that will soothe all ills. (Tuesday 16 August 10:00 – 13:00)

Spotlight on: House of Oz – fantastic new venue for 2022…

There’s nothing we enjoy more than discovering great new spaces at the fringe and new venue House of Oz has us very very excited ….and it’s not just because we have an Aussie in the family who loves a caramelo koala or two !

The venue features a beautiful hidden courtyard space where the Outback bar and grill is offering food and drinks all day and before the children’s shows there’s often arts and crafts or facepainting.

Children’s shows at the venue include :

The Listies: Hamlet – Prince of Skidmark – For the first time in Edinburgh, Australia’s favourite kidult comedy duo, The Listies, present their hilarious adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic.

An unmissable hour of fun and giggles…

Free: decorate a paper crown at our garden craft station.

Circa : Carnival of the Animals – Carnival of the Animals whisks you away on a thrilling circus escapade bringing together classical music with performances of extreme physicality by Circa’s world-famous acrobats.

Free face painting in the secret garden.

Dolly Diamond : Storytime – A fabulous show for the kids and the very young at heart. Dolly tours Australia with the renowned Story Box Library. Expect fun picture books such as Pig in a Wig and My Unicorn Farts Glitter in this family friendly show.

First Day (ish) 2022…

It’s technically my second day of the festival, but we only saw one show yesterday, (the fantastic Tom Brace), so I’d thought I’d merge it all together !…

Firstly, can I just say how BRILLIANT it is to be back seeing live shows again !!! Oh how I’ve missed it, and I’m loving the festival being back in it’s full flow and the energy and chaos back in the city again !! I’m loving seeing all the posters, all the street performers, all the food trucks, all the colours, sights, sounds, smells – we’ve really really missed it. And as the magnificent Reuben Kaye (one for the adults) said last night, how fantastic to be in a city where the arts are prioritised and celebrated !! We’re very lucky indeed…..

So…our first show of this festival was Tom Brace: Embrace the Impossible !.. and what a great start it was ! Full of properly astounding magic, a sprinkling of time travel and some game show madness with ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ – with lots of audience participation – its a fantastic show and I would highly recommend, it says ages 8+ and I would agree its best for older kids, and adults – Tom engages everyone well and puts in loads of humour so the adults enjoy it just as much as the younger audience members ! The kids are still pondering how he did all the tricks today which is the sign of a great show, leaving us guessing and wanting more …

Next up was the fantastic Tall Stories with The Smeds and The Smoos – This is for the littler little ones out there and Tall Stories have weaved their magic once again in their brilliant adaptation of this Julia Donaldson tale. Catchy songs, beautiful puppets, audience participation….its got a little bit of everything.

Chores was super fun once again – we’ve seen it before (review here) and enjoyed seeing two new siblings grapple with tidying their bedroom and the ensuing bedlam that follows. There was alot of silliness and alot of giggling….again, one for a slightly younger audience.

Lastly we saw the ever fantastically amazing Flip Fabrique with Muse – This was such a spectacular show, with the most incredible acrobatics, trapeze, diablo and much much more….sit near the front to be completely stunned !! We left as awestruck as ever !!

And if that wasn’t enough, I snuck in a visit to the List festival party and managed to catch a snippet of Magical Bones who astounded us with a few of his card tricks…and I’m definitely going to check out the full show if I can – one for the older children out there -ages 12 and up!

Spotlight on the Brilliantly Creative Circus Hub 2022….

We’re delighted that Underbelly’s Circus Hub is returning to the Meadows again this year. Bringing with it a plethora of amazing shows that are sure to astound and amaze us all…and as ever, we’re hoping the churros stall will also be back for some delicious snacks !!

It feels like the number of incredible circus and physical theatre shows increases every year, and 2022 certainly looks jam packed with choice…

Underbelly’s Circus Hub is made up of two venues: The Lafayette and The Beauty. The two venues are named after one of the world’s most famous circus performers and illusionists – The Great Lafayette, and his dog Beauty, who famously both died in Edinburgh in 1911. 

You can see all of the shows listed here and we’ve listed our top 5 picks below :

Circa: Humans 2.0 – We loved the original version of this incredible show (review here) – so we are super excited for this ! Ten bodies appear in a flash of light. They move in harmony for a fleeting moment and then descend into a sinuous trance. Towers grow and decay, bodies leap, and are caught, as physical limits are pushed to their extreme. – August 5th – 27th (not 10th, 15th, 22nd)

Splash Test Dummies – Readers of this blog know that we adore these loveable clowns and highly recommend a visit to share in their magic and hilarity…(review here). We reckon they are splish splashingly awesome ! See a brilliant array of catch-your-breath stunt work, acrobatics, juggling and the side-splitting, slapstick comedy for which the dummies are famous. – August 6th – 27th (not 15th, 22nd )

Cirque Alfonse: Animal – Cirque Alfonse takes us through a series of surreal farm fables served up with a touch of irreverence, impressive virtuosity and the company’s familiar comic touch. In this re-invented agricultural world, the farm is turned upside down! – August 6th – 27th ( not 10th, 15th, 22nd)

Circus Abyssinia: Tulu – We absolutely LOVED their show in 2017 (review here) – and are SUPER excited for this new show, celebrating the first African woman to win Olympic gold. Inspired by the true tale of an Ethiopian icon, Derartu Tulu, this unmissable showcase of superhuman strength blends breathtaking contortion, awe-inspiring acrobatics and mesmerising fire juggling with a rocking, exuberant soundtrack.- August 6th – 27th (not 15th, 22nd )

Brave Space – This looks really cosy and great for littler little ones…Brave Space is the building of a blanket fort, sneaking under a hoop skirt, an impulsive congregation in the tiniest of tents. Starting as a puddle of fabric on the floor, it grows to encompass a wondrous world of circus. Intimate and low tech, the audience sits nose-to-nose with an all-female cast of bold physical artists to build the world we want to live in, even for only a few shared moments.- August 6th – 27th (not 15th, 22nd )

Top Five Shows for littler little ones 2022…

Again, it’s so difficult to choose from the huge variety of shows this year for the even younger audience – and they all look like a fantastic introduction to theatre and performance for littler little ones….here are a few of our top picks to get you started….

The Adventures of Sleepyhead – This looks great, and had a successful run online as part of the smaller festival last year, so will be fantastic to see it in person finally !! ” She’s the dreamer of dreams. The walking-talking nap. A snoozer and a muser. Delight in this adventure to the heart of dreamland as Sleepyhead fends off the zzz…” – August 4th – 29th (not 16th)

Captain Zak and the Space Pirates – Captain Zak Space Pirate needs your help! He’s lost in a broken-down spaceship and only with your help answering questions, solving puzzles and singing songs can we survive the bubble attack! Zak worked as a delivery driver for the Amazin corporation but turned pirate and stole his delivery spaceship, now he’s lost in a far-flung galaxy with a ship that’s falling apart, he needs your help to survive!  – August 3rd – 21st (not 17th )

The Adventures of Bo Peep – Counting sheep always sends Bo Peep off to sleep by bedtime, but with no sign of them yet she’ll be up all night searching. Bo Peep needs your help to save her little lambkins from danger! A perfect theatre introduction for 2-6 year-olds with an interactive story and sensory learning. – August 4th – 16th

The Gruffalo, the Giant and the Mermaid with Julia Donaldson – There are not many young children I know that are not huge fans of Julia Donaldson’s books and so this show is sure to delight…we have always loved seeing Julia on stage, and the involvement of her family and friends in bringing her books to life. This show is based on her much loved books including The Smartest Giant in Town, The Singing Mermaid, The Highway Rat, and The Gruffalo. – August 4th – 29th (not 15th )

I Piano – The pianodrome is the most wonderful and unique venue and this show is such a good reason to go and explore it ! …’ The piano has lost its music! But a little girl wants to help the piano find it again, and together they set off on a magical adventure. They meet a mad conductor in a mountain, a monk on a scooter at the North Pole and an octopus dancing on the bottom of the sea.’ – August 9th – 14th