Catch Theater, Dance, and More at the Philadelphia Children’s Festival
Three days of kid-friendly performances and activities at the Annenberg Center brings something for everyone!
The Annenberg Center’s Philadelphia Children’s Festival returns this Thursday, May 17, for its 33rd year, bringing three days of kid-friendly performances for the whole family. In addition to the performances—which range from circus arts to spoken word poetry—there is the accompanying PlazaMania with free hands-on activities from arts partners from across the city. Whatever your kids’ interests, there is something interesting to see and do.
The Philadelphia Children’s Festival takes place from May 17—19 at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, located at 3680 Walnut St. in Philadelphia. All performances are one hour long, except for the Human Alphabet workshop, which is 45 minutes.
Human Alphabet Workshop
Together with other attendees, you’ll take on the challenge of forming letters with your body, producing a unique human alphabet. The dancer-gymnasts of Pilobolus lead this playful workshop that runs multiple times each day of the festival.
May 17 and 18
Timbalooloo founder Oran Etkin brings instruments to life—you’ll meet “Clara Net,” “Big Mama Tuba,” and the whole band of instruments—telling their stories through melodies and rhythms from across the globe. This interactive concert has more of a party feel, so kids are encouraged sing, clap, drum, and even honk along!
Hip-Hop and Spoken Word
Teen Voices of the City Ensemble’s ‘Hip H’opera’
May 17, 12:30 pm
Ages 5 and up
Students of Teen Voices of the City Ensemble (T-VOCE) will take the stage in a performance melding music, original poetry, dance, and art. Hip-hop, spoken word, dance, and the classical arts come together in celebration and empowerment of Philadelphia’s youth.
The Mayhem Poets
May 17 and 18, 10 am
This trio of “lyrical virtuosos” delivers rapid-fire spoken word blending hip-hop, theatre, improv, and stand-up comedy. You’ll be highly entertained, and see poetry in a new light.
Rennie Harris RHAW: The History of Hip Hop
May 18, 12:30 pm
Created by Philly native and renowned dancer and choreographer Rennie Harris, RHAW shares the history of hip-hop through repertoire excerpts and spotlights on those who invented the techniques and influenced the style, performed by a talented group of young dancers.
Magic and Circus Arts
The Give and Take Little Circus
May 17—18, 12:30 pm, May 19, 2 pm
The Give and Take Jugglers present their “Little Circus” show, a 45-minute show featuring aerial fabric, trapeze, juggling, tight wire, and more. The show is unique in bringing many of the elements of a much larger circus production to a smaller, intimate setting, creating an atmosphere infused with warmth and humor. This is consistently an Annenberg Center favorite for kids and adults alike.
Jason Bishop: ‘Straight Up Magic’
May 19, 11:30 am
Ages 5 and up
Direct from Broadway, and making his Philadelphia debut, illusionist Jason Bishop mystifies with spellbinding magic, award-winning sleight of hand, and grand illusions, all set to a rock and pop soundtrack.
‘My Father’s Dragon’
May 17—19, 10 am
Ages 4 and up
This colorful and imaginative play is based on Ruth Stiles Gannett’s Newbery Honor-winning classic about a little boy who sets off on an adventure to rescue a baby dragon—and teaches about unlikely friendship, bravery, and compassion along the way. The story is brought to life by the Enchantment Theatre Company using puppets, masks, special effects, and original music.
Sonia De Los Santos
May 19, 1 pm
Ages 4 and up
Bilingual children’s musician Sonia De Los Santos will perform original songs, Latin party tunes, and versions of American classics from her new album, Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island. She will be joined by percussionist Martin Vejarano in this uplifting and vibrant performance.
In addition to all the wonderful ticketed performances, the Annenberg Center will also host the outdoor PlazaMania with free hands-on activities from arts partners from across the city. PlazaMania is open 10:30 am–1 pm on Thursday and Friday, and 10 am–3 pm on Saturday.
PlazaMania partners vary by day, but include arts institutions like the Arden Theatre Co., the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and more. Additionally on Saturday, there will also be food trucks, performers throughout the day, and an appearance by the Phillie Phanatic!
There will also be face painting and balloon creations. Those activities will be included in the price of Thursday and Friday performance tickets. On Saturday, face painting and balloon creation cost extra ($5 and $1, respectively), but you can buy tickets in advance online.
Photographs courtesy of the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.