THOUSANDS came from far and wide at the weekend to enjoy the 8th bi-annual International Skipton Puppet Festival.
Almost 20 puppet companies from across the UK and Europe took part in the sell-out event which enjoyed fine weather – instead of the predicted rain – and also saw more than half of all shows and workshops free entry.
Much of the activity was centred on the newly refurbished Canal Basin, but on the Sunday, crowds turned out n force to see the insect parade through the town centre. The fabulous puppets were put together by community groups and in pre-festival workshops.
This year’s highlights included Eh Man He, performed at Giggleswick’s Richard Whiteley Theatre by festival favourites Zero En Conducta from Spain, a mind-bending exploration in dance of the differences between a human and a puppet.
Greek company Hop Signor entranced audiences with their poetic and sensitive ‘Giraffe’. Eva Sotriffer from Italy conjured hilarious moments of glove-puppet surprise with the help of her talented musician Max, and an unruly goat. Down at the Canal Basin ‘hub’, layers of programming offered a continuous flow of puppetry, from walkabouts to interactive performances to traditional favourites like Punch and Judy. There was something for everybody, and the most incredible piece of magic was that the forecasted weather, which threatened downpours and gale force winds, was transformed into a lovely weekend with pockets of sunshine.
Liz Lempen, one of the festival directors, said the event was all about teamwork, and thanked all who had helped make it such a success.
“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.,” she said.
“We’re also very grateful to the partners and sponsors who open doors and give generously from their time and resources, in particular Skipton BID, who put up the seed funding which opens the first door, the artists who pitch in and find the best energy for their performances, and the fantastic audiences who turn out every time to support the event. 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.”
In addition to Skipton BID, event supporters included: Skipton Town Council, Craven District Council, Great Places: Lakes and Dales, Skipton Mechanics Institute, The Craven Trust, and Rotary Club of Skipton Craven, and Arts Council England.