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Tunbridge Wells: Puppetry Festival returns a second time with Disney's Lion King and fun for the whole family

A festival bringing world class puppetry and theatre to Kent returns for a second time.

The Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival was first held in the town in 2015, with the star of the show Joey the War Horse puppet meeting visitors.

The second festival will turn the town into a colourful showground with a bigger, more varied and colourful line-up of puppetry fun and entertainment for all ages on Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14.

Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival is in partnership with Disney's The Lion King
Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival is in partnership with Disney's The Lion King

This year organisers have a partnership with Disney's The Lion King, with, in a UK first, members of the cast and production team from the landmark musical will be travelling from their West End home to host a series of events.

Funded by Arts Council England, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Kent County Council, with local businesses, Disney's The Lion King will hold a series of exclusive activities offering a rare glimpse behind-the-scenes of the acclaimed stage musical which features more than 232 puppets.

The programme, running from Monday, October 9 to Saturday, October 14, includes workshops in local schools, an exhibition, From Inspiration to Realisation, featuring costumes, full-scale puppets and masks plus behind-the-scenes photographs, at the Trinity Theatre and a masterclass, Discover the Inspiration, with a Q&A with some of the team, talking about bringing the Serengeti to life, also at the Trinity Theatre and launching the festival, on Friday, October 13.

Circle of Two: Bambolina and Dodo will be at the Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival
Circle of Two: Bambolina and Dodo will be at the Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival

On the Friday and Saturday there will be a range of children's shows and performances, at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Trinity Theatre and the Forum.

They include on the Friday a magical show for babies and toddlers, Old Saw's Duvet Day, at the Assembly Hall Theatre and The carnival of the Animals and the Ugly Duckling at the Trinity Theatre for primary school aged children.

In the evening, for teenagers and adults, there will be In Our Hands and Clementine's Fabulous Road Show by Mark Mander at the Trinity Theatre, and saucy Puppet Cabaret at the Forum.

The Saturday will feature a free programme on The Pantiles from 10am to 5pm.

Squashbox Theatre will be on The Pantiles
Squashbox Theatre will be on The Pantiles

Puppetry at Dreamland, Margate

There will be traditional Punch & Judy at the bandstand, Squashbox Theatre's The Sea Show and The Fetch's Clapper Box interactive puppet booth, mask theatre walkabout by Midwives on Call and Circle of Two's Bambolina and Dodo, at 11.45am and 4pm.

The festival is a result of the vision of Tunbridge Wells-based theatre producer, Linda Lewis.

She said: "Our aim is to bring contemporary puppetry into the mainstream and give local people an opportunity to experience something different. Our first festival surpassed all expectations and with an even bigger line-up of performers this year we hope we might encourage those who haven’t previously considered a puppetry show to come along, take a chance and give it a go.“

Tickets cost from £5. Events on The Pantiles on Saturday, October 14 are free. For details visit twpuppetryfestival.org.

Look out for our full feature in What's On soon.

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