The Southbank Centre marks twenty years of Imagine Children’s Festival with a fun-packed line-up for February half term

The Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival turns twenty in 2022 but has no intention of growing up any time soon! Imagine returns 9 – 20 February 2022 to provide the very best in children’s theatre, comedy, family parties, hands-on activities, music, literature, dance, immersive experiences, relaxed mindfulness sessions and full-on fun for children and their grownups in the February half term. With over 160 events jam-packed into twelve days and over fifty percent of the festival completely free, Imagine is the biggest festival of its kind in London.

The multi-arts line-up for 2022 includes some of the best-loved faces from children’s literature and television. Kids can join the beloved Peppa Pig, along with Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and George, as they discover how music comes together and enjoy some trotter-tapping orchestral music in Peppa Pig: My First Concert (11 – 13 Feb). The concert is a fun, interactive introduction to a live orchestra for ages 2 years and older in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Julia Donaldson and Friends: A Pocketful of Songs (19 Feb) is a fun-packed musical show filled with much-loved characters, including Zog, The Highway Rat, Superworm and The Gruffalo, and celebrates the launch of the author’s new illustrated book and CD. Escape with Jacqueline Wilson (20 Feb) sees the bestselling children’s author share how she started her writing career, as she introduces her new books, The Runaway Girls and The Primrose Railway Children. Celebrated poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (20 Feb) reads a selection of his best-loved poems and stories, while introducing his new picture book, Sticky McStickstick, a story of hope and perseverance and a fond testament to Rosen’s trusty NHS walking stick.

Championing every child…

Imagine’s twentieth year sees a focus on celebrating all that makes every child unique. Developed in collaboration with researchers, medical practitioners, and blind and visually impaired children at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Southampton General, The Dark (12 – 13 Feb) tells the story of a brave young boy befriending darkness, featuring vibrant new choreography and a thrilling soundscape of live music. In a performance based on the true story of a child’s struggle with letters and words, Little Murmur (17 Feb) reimagines the challenges of struggling to process the world around you as a mesmerising visual treat for all the family, as audiences are immersed in a world of dance, technology and illustration. Butterflies (17 – 18 Feb) is an uplifting tale about friendship and courage in the face of anxiety. The show toured to great acclaim in 2018 and now features an updated storyline celebrating the resilience of children throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Drum & bass band Rudimental’s Leon Rolle and writer Derek Owusu discuss their new book About This Boy and their own life stories in Growing Up, Making Mistakes and Becoming YOU! (12 Feb) – a celebration of finding the confidence to be yourself and pursue your dreams. PALAVER PARTY (14 Feb, free) welcomes everything that makes us unique in a jubilant drag and cabaret performance for all the family; everyone is invited and free to be who they want to be at this party!

Moments of calm…

The fun-filled days wind down with daily mindfulness and yoga in the Royal Festival Hall’s Clore Ballroom, run by mindfulness experts from the Tangled Feet theatre company’s Mindfulness Project. Using yoga, concentration and mindfulness exercises, Wellbeing Wind Down (12 – 20 Feb, free) is an ideal way for families to de-stress while stimulating young imagination and creativity. Moments of calm continue with Slumber Stories (9 – 10 Feb, free), as story-lovers are invited to drift into a calm and mindful night-time routine with tales and music from around the world, and with Cosmic Kids Yoga’s (14 Feb) guided yoga and storytelling sessions.

Ruth Hardie, Festival Programmer at the Southbank Centre, said:

“Now twenty years old, Imagine Children’s Festival is, as ever, about unlocking creativity and celebrating the individuality of every child – a festival for kids and their grown ups to explore, learn, discover and play. This year we are bursting at the seams with activities and events to inspire, engage and entertain, with a focus on wellbeing and championing the things that make each child unique. I’m particularly pleased with this year’s virtual, BSL-interpreted, relaxed and accessible events, as we continue our aim to bring diverse stories and the wonder of Imagine to as many children as possible. After the challenges of the past year, we’re really looking forward to seeing families use art to have fun and discover something incredible together at the Southbank Centre’s Imagine.”

Free events include: poetry for kids in the Little Library (9 – 20 Feb); an auditory, visual and interactive voyage with Groove Baby Presents: Groove Sensation (11 Feb); a hip-hop dance class in the ZooNation Youth Company Takeover (16 Feb); a family party at Do Your Own Thing DJ Takeover with Heart n Soul (18 Feb), LunchBox Jukebox (12 – 20 Feb) for kids to curate a DJ set, and many more!

More information available here. Full festival listings including BSL and Relaxed Performance information available here.

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