Leicester’s Spark Festival for Children is back to celebrate Joy, Freedom, and Choice from the 18th to 25th May 2024 with 34 performances and 15 chances for children to ‘Give it a Go’ at activity-based workshops.

The Spark Festival 2024 is packed with incredible events, activities, live music, dance and theatre for families, and much of it is free to enjoy. Celebrating its 21st year of putting children at the forefront of theatre and arts, this year’s big birthday festival has been created with the help of the self-named ‘Mega Bosses’, a dynamic group of 8 to 13-year-olds from all over Leicester/shire, guided by artist Pasha Kincaid, who told Spark that ‘they didn’t just want to watch great theatre and art, they wanted to participate in it too!’

When they heard this, Principal Festival Partner, De Montfort University, were only too happy to get involved and, as a result, this year’s The Spark Festival will see Leicester transformed into the biggest city-wide, children’s playground as local children are invited to ‘Give it a Go’ with free creative workshops, roleplay sessions, music making and print workshops over the seven days. Kicking off this year’s festival will be a takeover of two of Leicester’s biggest cultural venues, which will see De Montfort University and Leicester Museum and Art Gallery transformed into hubs of creativity, joy, and excitement with lots of free activities for all the family.

Key to this year’s festival is the inclusion of live music, dance and theatre productions that engage young audiences with the performing arts and focus on expression, empowerment and diversity. In a year where budget cuts and the cost-of-living crisis continues to restrict children’s access to theatre and live music, the Spark Festival will ensure that thousands of schoolchildren across Leicester/shire get to experience world-class music, dance, and theatre in their school halls as well as in the city’s theatres.

This year, the ‘At Your School’ programme will bring theatre and dance directly to children at their school with Belongings, Birdie, and The Sticky Dance, as well as music with Indo-Jazz. All are specially curated for schoolchildren to bring some Spark-y magic and joy into their schools.

Christopher Gorry, Artistic Director at Spark Arts said: ‘It seems right that in The Spark Festival’s 21st year that we place children at the heart of the decision making.

“The Mega Bosses of Spark have really clear ideas about how they want the festival to serve the children of Leicester now and into the future -this festival marks the beginning of that journey. We’re thrilled to be able to bring so many free to attend workshops and events to this year’s festival, whilst still providing local audiences, in theatre and in schools, access to some truly amazing productions and experiences from world class artists.

“We can’t wait for you to come down and Give it a Go’!

Highlights of this year’s festival include:

  • We Know Best workshops at De Montfort University – 18th May @ De Montfort University
  • Takeover: Leicester Museum & Art Gallery – 18th May @ Leicester Museum & Art Gallery

Working alongside artist Sam Redway, children from Falcons Primary, Mayflower Primary, Mellor Community Primary, and Queensmead Primary Academy are letting their imaginations run riot and will take over Leicester Museum and Gallery and DMU.

  • Bring The Paint Family Workshop – 25th May @ Haymarket Shopping Centre

A wide range of arts and crafts activities including Zine making with Leicester Zine Library, badge making, posca pen lettering and illustration with GRAFFWERK, building an augmented reality city in Javascript with Mateus Domingos and music making with Pedestrian.

  • Family Gallery Workshop – 25th May @ Attenborough Arts Centre

Come and explore exhibitions with their friendly learning team and take part in a range of creative workshops.

  • The Mysteries of Leicester - Saturday 25 May 2024 @ Leicester Gallery, De Montfort University

Take part in a fantastic tabletop roleplay game session rooted in Leicester’s history, but with more elves, magic, and dragons. Hosted in an amazing historic site on the University campus, it’s perfect for beginners at roleplay games. 

  • Saturday Sessions – 25th May @ Soft Touch Arts presents

Soft Touch Art’s café space will be hosting a variety of creative activities including a drumming workshop, paint bike (print your own t-shirt or bag) create a pony and loads more.

Performance Highlights of this year’s festival include:

  • toooB 24th May @ The Y Theatre

Introducing toooB, a curious and friendly shape-shifting creature. She’s not quite sure where she’s landed, but she’d love to meet and play with you.  toooB is an enchanting wordless show for 6–24-month-olds and their grownups.

  • Indo-Jazz  25th May @ The Y Theatre

Indo–Jazz blends the mesmerizing rhythms of South Asian music with the soulful notes of Jazz, infused with a modern 21st-century twist. For all ages.

  • Belongings 25th May 2024 @ Curve

Cleo arrives in a new home, unsure of what the future holds. She meets the playful Bertie and Leila, and together they balance, dance and climb to navigate imagined worlds, divided loyalties and loved ones far away. For 7yrs+.

  • The Sticky Dance 24th May & 25th May @ Attenborough Arts Centre

Dive into the enchanting world of The Sticky Dance, an immersive and interactive dance performance perfect for families with young children. This one-of-a-kind experience welcomes children into a non-verbal and inclusive environment where they can connect with dance on their own terms. For 3-5yrs