Children’s entertainment isn’t always the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to August in Edinburgh, a month that is perhaps better known for the raucous comedy of the Fringe or the highbrow cultural watermarks of the International Festival.
However the Fringe in particular has a great selection of children’s shows, and there are plenty of child-friendly activities happening throughout the festival period.
So without further ado, Milo McLaughlin picks ten shows and special events to keep parents sane and the kids happy this August.
Little Howard’s Big Show For Kids
Underbelly, Bristo Square, 31 July – 26 August (5-12 years); more info
Claiming to be “the world’s only live interactive animation”, you might remember Little Howard from The Royal Variety Performance or his own BBC1 show, Little Howard’s Big Question. The Scotsman described this as ‘one of the best kid’s shows’.
Curse of Pharaoh’s Tomb
Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall, 30 July – 25 August (5-12 years); more info
This interactive theatrical experience was a sell out in 2010. It gives kids a chance to get involved in some Indiana Jones style treasure hunting action – if they can outwit the mummies and traps that stand in the way.
My Brother The Robot
Pleasance Courtyard, 31 July – 25 August (4-9 years); more info
Rated five stars and described as “an absolute delight” by The Scotsman, My Brother The Robot is based on the story of the same name by Toby Mitchell about a lonely young girl who has a new little robot brother built for her by her dad. The play is performed by Tall Stories, who are well known for their productions of The Gruffalo and The Snail & The Whale.
The Twits by Roald Dahl
Zoo Southside, 4-10 August (4-10); more info
Incognito Theatre Company returns for a fifth year at the Fringe with this children’s favourite based on the classic Roald Dahl story. They say it’s a show “packed with laughter, surprises and smelly beards!” which should appeal to any Roald Dahl fans in the family.
The Man Who Planted Trees
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 30 July – 16 August (7 years +); more info
This adaptation of Jean Giono’s environmental allegory by Edinburgh-based Puppet State Theatre Company has been touring internationally for the past five years to much acclaim. It’s enjoyable for children and adults alike thanks to its strong humour and skilled puppetry.
Sweet Grassmarket, 2-3 August (2 years +); more info
Get ready to bust some funky moves and learn about evolution at the same time in this energetic workshop for the whole family. Hosted by B-Boy Taz from Step It Up Dance, an Edinburgh-based organisation formed to help children and young people enjoy exercise.
Comedy Club 4 Kids
Underbelly, Bristo Square, 2-25 August (6 years +); more info
If you want to give your kids a real taste of the Fringe (but without the rude bits) you won’t go far wrong with this daily comedy club which features some of the biggest and best acts on the Fringe but in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Rapunzel – May the Force Be With You!
Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall, 30 July – 25 August (4-10 years); more info
An exciting mash-up of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel with Star Wars, this is another fun, interactive show from Spotlites, the team behind Curse of Pharaoh’s Tomb, but this time with lightsabres!
Broughton High School, 3-11 August (4-12 years); more info
A fun introduction to Shakespeare’s classic play, adapted by Edinburgh drama teacher Sally Lyall with music by Tommie Travers.
Fringe By The Sea
North Berwick, 5-11 August (all ages); more info
It’s not strictly an Edinburgh event, but a few parents may want to escape the mayhem of Scotland’s capital at the height of festival season for a day or two. Fringe by the Sea at North Berwick has lots of family friendly events including Little Voices Big Stars where kids can learn to sing like a pop star, and free Bookbug Sessions throughout the day plus plenty to keep adults entertained.
Other options are the Royal Mile where there is always street theatre to keep the young ones entertained, and The Pleasance also offers a Kid’s Zone with free events, face-painting and an arts and crafts zone taking place in their giant igloo theatre.