The normally quiet North Yorkshire market town of Skipton may not, on first inspection, seem to be the kind of place that one would expect to come alive every two years with the sounds and festivities of puppetry.
Yet, that has been precisely the case since 2005, when the first International Skipton Puppet Festival was held – and this year has just seen the conclusion of yet another hugely successful and acclaimed event.
Thousands took in the magic of this year’s event
The latest running of the biannual festival was from 4th to 6th October – and as reported by local newspaper the Craven Herald & Pioneer, literally thousands of people came from far and wide to attend. Indeed, the event organisers said that nearly 95% of available tickets were sold.
Nor was it exactly difficult to understand the event’s appeal for amateur and professional puppetry enthusiasts alike, given the participation in the festival of almost 20 puppet companies from around the UK and Europe.
Even the weather at this eighth edition of the ever-popular festival held up, as the predicted rain failed to materialise. Such favourable conditions made it even easier for event-goers to enjoy the various shows and workshops on offer, more than half of which were free admission.
What activities did attendees get to revel in this time around?
While the newly refurbished Canal Basin was the focal point for much of the activity at the 2019 festival, there was a shift in emphasis on the concluding Sunday of the event, when an insect parade took place through the town centre. The puppets involved were assembled by community groups and in workshops in the run-up to the festival.
Other highlights of this year’s festival included the Spanish company Zero En Conducta’s Eh Man He, which was performed at Richard Whiteley Theatre at Giggleswick School, and the poetic and sensitive Giraffe, by Greece’s Hop Signor.
A salute to hardworking volunteers, partners and sponsors
Liz Lempen, one of the festival directors, paid tribute to the considerable role of teamwork in making the event a success.
She declared: “We have an incredible group of volunteers, many from the local area, who help in all sorts of ways, both before and during the festival, and we really couldn’t do it without them.
“We’re also very grateful to the partners and sponsors who open doors and give generously from their time and resources... all of the hard work is so hugely appreciated. We’re really proud to be able to create this event that not only supports and inspires the artists and audiences, but also shows Skipton at its most inclusive, supportive and welcoming best.”
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As for the International Skipton Puppet Festival, it will return in October 2021 – so we all suggest you make space in your diaries right now.