People flocked to The Pantiles and Royal Victoria Palace where they were enthralled by performances from artists from across the UK, Italy, Spain and Poland.
Despite the dreary weather last weekend, people turned out in their hundreds to see the shows and performers at the biennial Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival.
Linda Lewis, festival director, said: “Despite the soggy start, we had a magical three days which began with a stunning night-time show on Friday that lit up the skies, finished with another wonderful marionette performance and something for everyone and all ages in between.”
She said while much of the street theatre planned for The Pantiles and Millennium Clock was brought inside Royal Victoria Place shopping centre, it didn’t deter the puppets or performers from putting on a world-class show.
Highlights included Arbor the 17ft tree who captivated both children and adults alike when he strode to life with his environmental tale of saving our green spaces.
While Di Filippino’s traditional marionettes brought their intricate skill, storytelling and singing from Italy to the UK for the first time.
Giant puppet Don Quixote encouraged audience participation in a fun-packed family show, and The Cloud Travellers glided gently through Royal Victoria Place, scattering magical raindrops from their fingertips.
A little further afield at Trinity Theatre, The Forum and Assembly Hall, people enjoyed a programme of ticketed performances including a ‘mini marvel of a tale for an audience of just eight’, plus performances from the Moomins, Snarks and black comedy from Strangeface and its award-winning show The Hit.
And on Sunday, Hikapee’s Look Up took to The Pantiles on a five-metre-high aerial rig, exploring the relationship between circus performer, puppet and audience. Meanwhile Thingumajig Theatre amused crowds with their diverse miniature puppet shows inside a big, rolling mule puppet that explored the theme of migration.
“We continue to grow in size and ambition each time and wanted this year’s festival to have a real international feel which, from the feedback we’ve had from people who came along, we’ve achieved,” said Ms Lewis.
“We’ve spent lots of time with all of the artists over these past few days. Witnessing their passion, skill and innovation that is bringing new audiences into puppetry has been a privilege and we’re looking forward to building on this for the 2021 festival,” she added.