The Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival


From 12-23 February, the UK’s leading children’s festival, Imagine, returns to Southbank Centre.

Prepare for twelve days of international children’s theatre, music performances, literature events, comedy shows, creative workshops, family parties, hands-on activities and lots of free family fun for all those aged 0-11 (with their grown ups too).

Imagine Children’s Festival takes over the most of the 17-acre cultural quarter on the banks of the River Thames for its nineteenth year running, dedicating the February half term to families enjoying and discovering all kinds of art and culture together.

Literature, storytelling and children’s access to books have always been a prominent theme of the festival and this year is no exception with authors including Michael Rosen and Robin Stevens.

2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and now this timeless classic makes its way to Southbank Centre with the critically-acclaimed stage production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show.

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Yolanda’s Band Jam is all about kid’s participation

This year children can also journey through J.K. Rowling’s much-loved Harry Potter series with Fleurble Laffalot as they learn fun facts about the Harry Potter books and witness some of the key elements of life at Hogwarts.

Throughout this edition of Imagine there is also some important programming addressing how humanity is responsible for caring for the planet.

The National Poetry Library has put together a series of events – Poetry For The Planet, Poems Go Green, Green Poetry Workshop and Poems From A Green And Blue Planet – highlighting key themes at the forefront of public interest.

Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize-winning author Sita Brahmachari will be creating environmental pledges as she explains the inspiration behind her latest book Where The River Runs Gold which encourages everyone to be as creative, community-minded and environmentally aware as possible in today’s world.

Music is featured heavily in this year’s programme too with events including award-winning musician and CBeebies’ star YolanDa Brown’s return to Imagine with YolanDa’s Band Jam – her live music show which sees musical guests jam along with her band performing crowd-pleasing songs especially created for a noisy audience of children. Chineke! Juniors, made up of majority BME (black and minority ethnic) young players presents a fun-filled journey exploring music-making and storytelling.

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Reading is high on the Festival’s agenda. Photo by Sam Peach.

A packed free events schedule also guarantees that families are kept busy on-site without needing to spend money. Free activities around Southbank Centre’s site include illustration workshops, a free family sing-along Big Songs for Little People, the popular family jazz show Groove Baby; and a child-friendly exhibition within Hayward Gallery’s HENI Project Space by Nevin Aladağ.

This year’s festival is a free space for adults too – Imagine’s Wellbeing Zone invites parents to take time to relax with hand massages and self-care tips on offer. Treat yourself and the kids at Imagine.

Imagine Festival runs at the Southbank Centre from 12-23 February.