Preparation is underway for the return of Hull’s much loved family festival, The Big Malarkey, this summer.
Hosted by Hull Libraries, the team is hoping to bring a smile to people’s faces and welcome families back with an invitation to come together to celebrate and experience the magic of The Big Malarkey Festival.
After a year in which books and imagination provided escapism for all ages, The Big Malarkey Festival will bring together well-known authors and illustrators alongside local artists, creators and makers in a careful, considered and socially distanced way to showcase the wonderful world the city’s libraries offer.
Hello World is the theme for this year’s festival, which will once again take place in East Park, with the return of the Big Top and Little Larkeys tents alongside new tents including Beautiful Planet, a place to reflect on nature and the environment.
Sessions inside the different tents will be complemented by the usual host of outdoor and pop up activities, with families reunited with new and familiar faces, including storyteller Ian Douglas, and Grimm & Co, Apothecary to the Magical World.
The full line-up will be announced after the Easter break and will include: Chris Wormell, leading children’s illustrator (Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust series) and creator of the hugely popular The Magic Place ; Dan Freedman, author of the popular Jamie Johnson books Maisie Paradise Shearring, international award-winning illustrator and author of picture books such as The Boy Who Loved Everyone.
Established during Hull’s year as UK City of Culture 2017, this year’s festival will open on Monday 21 June with an action-packed virtual school programme, which will this year take place over five days, followed by an imagination-inspiring public programme of live events for families to enjoy on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 June.
Ellen Bianchini, Festival Director, explained: “We’re all so excited to be reunited in person with families this summer and we’ve been working hard to find a safe way of delivering the festival. It might feel a bit different from previous years, but we’re confident that we can offer the same quality experience that families have enjoyed in the past.
“After the hardships of this last year, we all need a bit more fun in our lives so the programme we’re creating is, more than ever, centered around playfulness, discovery and simple joys like listening to live music.
“Every year the safety of our audience, team and staff is a priority but this year we’re working to make our family friendly site in East Park, even safer for everyone. The festival will be a socially distanced event and may see smaller audience sizes and ticketed events to manage crowds and ensure everyone gets their turn. We’re working closely with the events team at Hull City Council to ensure a safe environment for audiences, staff and volunteers.
“We’re also delighted to announce the return of our much loved schools programme , offering interactive sessions for children from Reception to KS3, with a mix of live online events and in person workshops in schools.”
Available exclusively to Hull Libraries Schools Library Service Schools, over 2,500 students will take part in workshops with award-winning authors and illustrators including Winnie the Witch illustrator Korky Paul, who will run a drawing workshop for KS2.
Ginny Smith of Braintastic! will run an interactive session exploring neuroscience to understand memory for KS3. While KS1 students will meet scientist and explorer Sarah Roberts of Somebody Swallowed Stanley to explore the effects of plastic pollution on sharks.
KS2 students will also be joined by fantasy writerAli Sparkes, winner of the Blue Peter Book of the Year and given the opportunity to make their own story scrolls with a tutorial from storyteller supreme Sita Brand from Settle Stories.
In-person sessions at schools will be led by a range of local and national artists including Hull Truck Theatre, James Nicol, Middle Child Theatre, Makerspace team, puppet artist Liz Dorton, paper engineer Alex Bennett, Early Years theatre makers Mud Pie Arts and clown-actor Andy Ross.
The school’s programme will also include theKS2 and KS3 James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award. Hull is the only city to run a book award where it is a live vote on the day voted for by the city’s young people.
Cllr Marjorie Brabazon, Chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “The Big Malarkey is about books and stories, yes, but it’s also a festival of ideas and imagination with performances, creative workshops, and storytelling.
“The festival seeks to encourage creativity, confidence and the joy of discovery through offering opportunities to meet and work with authors, illustrators, artists, thinkers and scientists. We’re very excited for its return this year, it’s the tonic we all need.”
Since The Big Malarkey Festival began in 2017 it has attracted nearly 20,000 people to enter Malarkey Park.
Further information on tickets and guidance for audiences will be published over the coming months. But in the meantime Save the date!