Puppet Festivals In Canada

Table of Contents

What is a puppet festival? 

A puppet festival is a series of events about puppetry happening over a few consecutive days. Events include puppet shows, workshops, lectures, round tables, discussions, and others. Puppet festivals are usually geared towards and attended by families. However, most festivals also present puppet shows for adults. So, don’t dismiss a puppet festival as children ‘s only type of entertainment. Puppets are very inventive and fun!!!

Most of the events at a puppet festival are open to the general public. Typically, a festival also has events specifically for artists involved in puppetry, students of puppetry, puppet designer and other professionals. If you are a puppeteer, attending a puppet festival is a great opportunity to meet other puppeteers. Usually, each festival has a central location, a sort of festival hub, where performers gather after performances each day. Joining them is the best way to get involved in puppetry or to meet like minded people. 

Does Canada have a puppet festival?

Yes, Canada has puppet festivals although only a few in comparison to the USA or the rest of the world. Canada is an expansive country and it is challenging and expensive to travel between provinces and cities. However, some puppet festivals are scheduled one after another. This intentional scheduling allows touring artists to play at more than one festival in Canada. 

What types of puppet festivals exist in Canada? 

There are several kinds of puppet festivals in Canada. These include professionally curated festivals, where artists need to be invited to perform, puppet festivals where anyone can participate, puppet festivals that include outdoor puppetry or parade style presentations. 

How many puppet festivals are there in Canada?

Puppetry festivals are happening all over Canada; currently there are 10 puppet festivals across Canada. There are 3 puppet festivals in Ontario, 3 puppet festivals in Quebec, 1 puppet festival in Alberta, 1 puppet festival in Saskatchewan, and 2 puppet festivals in British Columbia. Learn about each puppet festival in Canada and what they do.  

Ontario

Puppet Festival Mississauga  

Puppet Festival Mississauga (formerly Bridges Festival) is an international festival of Puppetry and Animation. The festival takes place all over the city of Mississauga. Crane Creations Theatre Company produces Puppet Festival Mississauga. Crane Creations Theater Company is the only artists-run not-for-profit professional theatre company located in Mississauga and the Region of Peel. There are more than 15 events happening each year: puppet shows, short films, workshops, exhibitions and talks. Shows from around the world and Canada are curated to bring the best events for children and families to Mississauga. 

Puppet Festival Mississauga’s mission is to inspire and ignite imagination of children and adults alike. Puppet Festival Mississauga aims to provide quality education and entertainment for families by presenting international award-winning puppetry shows, animated films, workshops, exhibits, and interactive activities for children of all ages. This puppet festival happens in several locations across the city of Mississauga, in the province of Ontario in Canada. Events happen in Port Credit, Clarkson, Cooksville, Mississauga City Centre, Rathburn, Streetsville and Malton.

Want to participate In Puppet Festival Mississauga? You can submit your puppet show, or find out more ways to be involved.

Springworks Festival

Springworks Festival is an indie festival of juried performances, ranging from theatre and cabaret to dance to poetry and spoken word to visual theatre to puppets and everything in between. This festival showcases more than 100 performances over the period of 11 days in the Stratford area. The festival provides a place for local, regional, national and international artists to showcase their works and an opportunity for audiences to experience new and diverse work in their own community.

This multidisciplinary arts festival was founded in 2011 at the invitation of Stratford Tourism Association by Hermione Presents. Hermione Presents is a charitable arts organization founded and run by a collective of artists and creators with decades of performing and producing experience.

Springworks Festival’s mission is to provide a place for independent creation and be a springboard for new work, nurturing and supporting artistic efforts and art forms often easily accessed in larger urban cities.

Springworks Festival is for people of all ages. It presents shows from all around the world, and programs interactive activities for children.

Puppets Up!

Puppets Up! is an International Puppet Festival bringing the best and most innovative puppetry from around the world to the streets of Almonte, Ontario.

Puppets Up! was started in 2004 by a group of people in Almonte, inspired and led by the professional puppet creator Noreen Young. Noreen Young is an award-winning Canadian producer and puppeteer involved in puppeteering through her corporation Noreen Young Productions. Young grew up in the capital of Ottawa, Ontario and knew from an early age that puppets can say things humans can’t. Puppets Up! entertains and informs the people of Almonte and beyond about the vibrant art of puppetry which has existed in virtually all cultures around the world for thousands of years 

Puppets Up! has been running successfully since 2004 and has drawn crowds from across  Canada and around the world excited to see puppeteers and street performers.

The Festival takes place in August in historic Almonte, part of the municipality of Mississippi Mills in beautiful Lanark County, Ontario.

Quebec

Casteliers

Festival de Casteliers is an international puppetry festival for both adult and family audiences. The Festival was founded in 2005 in Montreal, Quebec. Casteliers is famed as a leading presenter of puppetry arts from Montreal and abroad. 

Casteliers’ mission is to disseminate puppetry arts, and bring the most striking creations from Montreal and around the world, to adults and children alike.

The festival derives its name from the word “castelier” which means a person who introduces or narrates a puppet show or intervenes with the puppet characters in a show. 

“A somewhat obsolete word, we have revived it and expanded its meaning by adding an “s”. While its English counterpart, “puppet master”, is generally regarded as someone who performs puppet shows, Casteliers (with an “s”) are more than simply performers: they are important artistic mediators that bring together puppetry artists and audiences.”

(About Casteliers | Casteliers)

Casteliers’ joint initiative, the MIAM, supports the creation and development of puppetry, to make this art form better known and to promote it nationally and internationally.

With a puppet-building workshop and a production lab housed in the same building, the MIAM offers a unique research space for puppeteers. Its rental space and activities run by the founders, partners and users are wide-ranging, impromptu and always evolving. It offers artistic residencies, professional training workshops, master classes and lectures.

OUF! Festival Off Casteliers

The OUF! Festival Off Casteliers is Québec’s only community puppetry arts festival. Founded in 2013, the festival almost exclusively focuses on local artists and provides an important showcase for emerging artists. Over the past seven years, more than 300 creative works have been presented at the Pavillon Saint-Viateur in Outremont, Montreal.

The Montreal theatre company, Belzebrute produces The OUF! A team of volunteers runs the theeatre company.

OUF!’s mission is to put Quebec’s dynamic puppetry scene in the spotlight by offering an eclectic and vibrant program where puppetry’s many forms share the stage.

The events in the festival are based on donation or “pay-what-you-can” method. (voluntary monetary contribution)

The festival produces over 60 artistic proposals offered by more than 120 artists. The public is also invited to chat with puppetry artists and craftspeople.

FIAMS

FIAMS or  Festival international des arts de la marionnette à Saguenay is Canada’s oldest puppet festival. Founded in 1989, FIAMS presents a wide range of high quality shows every two years. FIAMS is an international festival dedicated to the discovery of the puppetry arts. This festival offers indoor and outdoor shows, professional training, and happenings throughout the city of Saguenay for six days. The festival also promotes meetings between artists, presenters and international representatives in order to allow companies to establish contacts and multiply international dissemination opportunities. 

British Columbia

Vancouver International Puppet Festival 

The Vancouver International Puppet Festival (VIP Festival) is an international festival of puppetry. VIP Festival happens each year in Vancouver, British Columbia. VIP Festival takes over the city of Vancouver each year, celebrating the dazzling and daring world of puppetry in an epic gathering of puppetry from all disciplines. With performances, films, workshops, and discussion panels, the Vancouver International Puppet Festival has something for everyone from puppet enthusiasts to those newly discovering one of the world’s oldest and versatile art forms. The festival strives to encourage and promote the growth and appreciation of puppetry in Vancouver and Canada by providing people of all ages the opportunity to participate in the creativity, positivity and ingenuity of the craft.

The goal of the festival is to create a space to showcase the unique work and talents of the Vancouver puppet community and to bring the talent of international puppeteers to the city through performances, events, workshops and dialogue.

Living Things International Arts Festival

Living Things International Arts Festival is Kelowna’s International Arts Festival. With the programming of groundbreaking theatre, art and performances, this festival will leave you feeling exhilarated. The Living Things Festival, organized by Neil Cadger, is an annual theater, art, and performance festival. The festival generally takes place in the month of January in the city of Kelowna in British Columbia. Types of performances include contemporary live theater, dance, music, animation, art and outdoor projections. Ticket prices range from free to $25.

The festival is about how we, as humans, relate to the non-human. It presents different disciplines of puppetry, making the festival a truly enriching experience for adults and children. The Festival features performers from not only Canada but around the world. It brings to the people of Kelowna and beyond the art of puppetry from around the world.

The Living Things Festival also features several events that are free or by donation. For a full list of events, visit the Living Things website: Living Things Festival | Kelowna’s International Arts Festival

Alberta

Festival Of Animated Objects

The Festival of Animated Objects is an annual international festival happening in Calgary, Alberta. The festival is sponsored by the International Festival of Animated Objects Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting mask and puppet related performance. As an incubator and producer of mask, puppetry, and animated objects, The International Festival of Animated Objects Society is the primary curator and presenter of local, national and international puppetry. It strives to provide Alberta audiences with the chance to experience the breadth and diversity of these innovative art forms.

This festival brings national and international artists to engage and entertain audiences of all ages through the innovative and sophisticated art of storytelling through mask, puppetry, and animated objects.

From puppet shows to film screenings, gallery exhibitions to workshops, Calgary comes alive with original creations, mythical creatures and curious beasts, objects, gadgets, and thingamajigs beguiled by puppet-masters and artists alike to stir your imagination.

Saskatchewan

International Puppet Underground Festival

The International Puppet Underground Festival is an established bi-annual international event in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada that fosters community and interdisciplinary collaboration around the art of puppetry and related art forms. The International Puppet Underground Festival combines the universally compelling primordial magic of puppets with contemporary performance and postmodern multimedia. The raw uncanniness, bizarre comedy, and unexpected beauty of hand-made and operated puppets creates a sense of magic, sweeping us into otherwise untold stories and otherwise unrealized worlds. IPUF: a film festival, a puppet festival, an escape from daily life.

In addition to screening Saskatchewan and international live-action puppet films, IPUF presents free puppet workshops and a puppet exhibition and showcases live puppet performances for a variety of audiences, from Kid’s Day to the adults-only, late-night PuppetSLAM Cabaret.

For details on programming of the festival, refer to their website: www.ipuf.ca

Have We Forgotten You?

Are you a puppet festival organizer we forgot to mention? Or do you have an update about your festival? Write to us at info@cranecreations.ca and we are happy to add you to the list. 

How to participate in a puppet festival in Canada

At most puppet festivals in Canada, the Artistic Director or Programming Director selects which shows to present at their respective festivals. The best way to be considered is to email the festival’s artistic director or theatre organizing the festival and inquire about their selection process. We organize Puppet Festival Mississauga. Our selection process consists of seeing live puppet shows at other puppet festivals and an open submission call found here. If you have a puppet show you want us to see, invite us anytime. 

Puppet Festivals Around The World

Are there a lot of puppet festivals around the world? Yes! There are hundreds of puppet festivals around the world happening every year. The biggest puppet festival in the world happens in Charleville-Mézières in France. The streets of a beautiful small historic town fill with puppeteers from all around the world. If you want to learn more about puppet festivals around the world follow us on social media – we regularly post about festivals around the world. 

Discovery Series
Blog

What is Bridges Festival?

Bridges Festival is a festival of Puppetry and Animation. The festival takes place all over the city of Mississauga. There are more than 15 events happening each year: puppet shows, films, workshops, exhibitions and talks. We carefully curate artists from around the world and across Canada to bring the best events for children to Mississauga. 

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