There’s that magical time in childhood – where make-believe can still be reality and they can be so totally consumed in a moment that everything else is gone. Great Children’s Theatre makes the most of that, and it’s one of the reasons I most look forward to the ‘Imaginate’ Festival – you know it’s going to be bursting with creativity but that whatever happens will be magical.

Yesterday saw the launch of this year’s festival and we were delighted to be invited to review Family Encounter’s at the National Museum of Scotland. After last year’s venture in the Botanics, Saturday saw performers pop up in various corners of the museum and it gave us a great taste of the festival ahead.

Peekaboo Poncho

We entered the museum through the Tower Entrance and arrived just in time to see Peekaboo Poncho by Alison Brown. Although it’s aimed a babies and toddlers, the older were children were immediately drawn in and were laughing at the immersive performance – particularly as limbs began to appear from under the shelter!

Are Ye Dancin’

Wondering through the the main gallery (following the trail of windmills emerging from the craft tables), we found Tenterhooks just beginning… inspired by silent movies and variety shows – this performance made the most of clever props, colour, movement and expression. Once again, the kids were totally drawn in and it was wonderful to hear laughter echoing up to the rooftops!

Where are you?

We were excited to see Theatre Sans Accents on the program, and were no disappointed as ‘Harry Hedgehog’ set out a challenge to find his friends – newly arrived in Scotland and scattered around the museum. Knowing the museum well certainly helped, as we had to work out where a bear may be hanging out.. or a french hen who loves fashion… or a squirrel who likes to grow trees!

Out of all the acts we saw, this one really made the most of the setting and saw the kids scattering in all kinds of directions at speed. On discovering each performer, the kids weren’t simply given a clue but had the chance to learn something about a different culture or language.


After adventuring round the levels of the museum, it was definitely time for refreshment so we headed to the Balcony Cafe just in time to watch Rob Heaslip’s performance start below – with three luminous straw dancers moving to Balkan inspired beats. The kids were a little unsure at first, but as the speed and rhythm picked up and the straw outfits began to whirl out – they soon forgot their initial questioning!

Experts Radio lab

On our way from to the main gallery, Katie particularly had been drawn to ‘Experts Radio Lab’ by Alice Mary Cooper and Company, and had been keen to sign up for a slot! So to end our visit, the kids had a chance to be interviewed for a live radio show on their expert topic – Lego Friends. It turns out they know a LOT about Lego Friends, but the interviewers helped bring some extra laughs and make their 5 minute slot pass in a flash! I know full well they would’ve happily chatted all day but it made for a lovely, and memorable end to the visit.

What’s on this week?

The Edinburgh Children’s International Festival is on until 15th May 2022 at various venues across the city and has things for kids of all ages – teens included! You can find out What’s On via the Imaginate Website and we’ll be highlighting things via our Instagram so do come join us!

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