Home Events Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival Takeover!

Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival Takeover!

Moon_Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival
Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram. Greenwich & Docklands Festival, UK, 2017. Photo by @edsimmons_ @visitgreenwich

Who else is looking forward to the Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival takeover?

Celebrating all-things puppetry across Tunbridge Wells, the events are taking place in our town’s iconic venues and open-air civic spaces including Calverley Grounds, Royal Victoria Place, Trinity Theatre, Assembly Hall, Camden Centre and The Forum. There is a mix of ticketed paid and free performances, workshops and events.

An absolute highlight in Kent’s cultural diary, the puppetry takeover aims to bring and make this beautiful, and often overlooked, art-form accessible to the local residents and visitors of Tunbridge Wells.

Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival 2021

Museum on the Moon created by UK artist, Luke Jerram

Museum on the moon
Artist Luke Jerram with Museum of the Moon

The centrepiece of the 2021 Festival will be Museum of the Moon, an awe-inspiring touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter, it features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface.

The installation is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award winning composer Dan Jones. Museum of the Moon will sit elevated in Calverley Grounds and will be open on Friday 15 October 6pm-9pm, Saturday 16 October and Sunday 17 October from noon until 9pm. There is free entry to witness this spectacle – an Instagrammers dream!

Museum of the Moon allows us to observe and contemplate cultural similarities and differences around the world, and consider the latest moon science.

Joint Festival Directors Alison Bundy and Ailsa Molyneux say:

“We’re especially proud that Museum of The Moon will bring an extra outdoor element of awe and wonder to this year’s Festival. It, and the 40 diverse and innovative contemporary puppetry events, will allow audiences and the community to reconnect following the adversity of the last couple of years. It’s a complete joy to be able to present live work once again.”

Moon_Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival
The Lost Colour by The Puppet Van

The Festival programme once again brings high-quality, innovative puppetry work designed to be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.  This year sees commissioned new work, workshops running in collaboration with local charity Mental Health Resources for teenagers and education workshops in schools with local charity Empathy Action and Russell Dean from Strangeface Theatre Company. These workshops use puppets to raise awareness of the refugee crisis.

Aardman workshop at Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival
Aardman Animations workshops

In the run-up to this year’s Festival, the organisers have created Unlocked, an online project offering opportunities to recent arts graduates to present puppetry work on video which has been created ‘at home’ during the coronavirus pandemic and which express what the puppets and video-makers want to do as soon as they can get out. Unlocked aims to identify, support and nurture new, emerging young talent. The work of all eight finalists will be shown digitally over the festival weekend.

Aardman model making workshops run by an expert model-maker who has worked on some of Aardman’s best-loved titles will take place at Royal Victoria Place on Saturday 16 October. Participants can get creative with clay and discover how to make their own model of one of Aardman’s world-famous characters such as Gromit, Feathers or Shaun the Sheep, which they then get to take home with them.

Opening the Festival is local theatre company, Strangeface, performing Eli and the Golem at Trinity Theatre on Wednesday 13 October at 7.30pm. After the performance, which highlights the very timely topic of the plight of refugees, there’s a Q & A for anyone 10+. Straight after the Festival, Strangface artistic director Russell Dean will be taking the puppets to meet giant 3.5m Syrian child refugee puppet ‘Little Amal’ in Folkestone as she arrives in the UK for the first time as part of The Walk in support of refugees. 

Moon_Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival
Long Nose Puppets – The Hug

Also for older children and adults, Stephen Mottram performs The Parachute at Trinity Theatre and String Theatre’s The Insect Circus has two performances on Sunday 17 October at 3.15 and 4.30pm at The Forum.

For very young audiences Dig! by the Pied Piper Theatre Company is a gentle first theatre experience, perfect for children 6 months to 2 years, at the Assembly Hall on Thursday 14 October at 10am & 11.30am. Long Nose Puppets present The Hug at Trinity Theatre on Friday 15 October at 10am and 11.30am.  On Saturday 16 October Garlic Theatre will perform Eggs on Legs at the Camden Centre.

Moon_Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival
Pied Piper Theatre Company – Dig!

Rust and Stardust present Moose on the Moon, an interactive musical adventure for toddlers, in the Royal Victoria Place on Saturday 9 October at 11am and 2pm and 3.30pm. Audiences can join the puppeteers post-performance for an accompanying workshop where children can learn about the phases of the moon and make their very own moon-moose puppets to take home.

Audiences can also experience some amazing puppetry for free around the town on Sunday 17 October from 11am – 3pm.  Buzz, a piece co-commissioned by the Festival with theatre company Smoking Apples to help raise awareness of how we can help save our bees, can be seen on The Pantiles at 11.30am, 1pm and 2.30pm.

The Punjeet and Judy-Gee Show
The Punjeet and Judy-Gee Show

The Punjeet and Judy-Gee Show, Britain’s first Asian Punch and Judy performer can also be seen on the Pantiles and Special Delivery, a show by Bird in the Hand Theatre will be performed under the Millennium Clock. The Juke Boxes by Bootworks at Royal Victoria Place, and The Lost Colour by The Puppet Van at Trinity Theatre Gardens.

See below for a full schedule of both free and ticketed festivities:

Saturday 9 October

♥ The Moose on the Moon

Rust and Stardust
Age 3+
Royal Victoria Place £5 incl workshop
11am, 2pm & 3.30pm

 Wednesday 13 October

♥ Eli and the Golem

Strangeface Theatre Company

Age 10+
Trinity Theatre £14, £10 students
7.30pm (60 minutes)

Thursday 14 October

♥ DIG!

Pied Piper Theatre Company
Age 6months to 3 years
Assembly Hall Theatre £8
10am & 11.30am (45 mins)

Friday 15 October

♥ The Hug

Long Nose Puppets
Age 6 months to 4 years
Trinity Theatre £8
10am (45 mins)

♥ Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram

Calverley Grounds Free event for all ages
7pm-9pm, Sat 16 noon-9pm & Sun 17 noon-9pm

Aardman worksops
Aardman Animations workshops

Saturday 16 October

♥ Aardman Model making workshops
Age 8+
Royal Victoria Place £10
11am, 1pm & 3pm (60 mins)

♥ Eggs on Legs

Age 3 – 8
Garlic Theatre
Camden Centre £8
11.30am & 2pm (50 mins)

♥ SeedHeart

Indigo Moon Theatre
Age 5+
The Forum £8
3pm & 4.30pm (30 mins)

♥ The Parachute

Stephen Mottram
Age 8+
Trinity Theatre £14
6pm & 8pm (60 mins)

Sunday 17 October

♥ The Puppet Van

Half a String
Trinity Theatre Gardens Free event for all ages
11am, 12.30pm, 2pm (20 mins)

♥ Seeing Red

The Pantiles Free event for all ages
11am, 12.30pm & 2pm (25 mins)


Smoking Apples
The Pantiles Free event for all ages
11.30am, 1pm & 2.30pm

♥ Special Delivery

A Bird in the Hand Theatre
Under the Millennium Clock Free event for all ages
11.45am, 12.45pm & 1.45pm (20 mins)

♥ The Punjeet and Judy-Gee Show

The Pantiles Free event for all ages
12pm, 1.30pm & 3pm (30mins)

♥ The Juke Boxes

Royal Victoria Place Free event for all ages
12.15pm, 2.15pm & 3.15pm


Royal Victoria Place, free event
Age 10+
2pm (90 mins)

♥ The Insect Circus

String Theatre
Age 5+
The Forum £8
3.15pm & 4.30pm (35 mins)

♥ Mock the Duck Studios Puppetry Exhibition

Various locations in Royal Victoria Place from 11th to 17th October – Free event for all ages



A stop-motion sci-fi adventure (13:22 | dir. Astrid Goldsmith | 2020)
9 – 17 Oct online at twpuppetryfestival.org only, free to watch



9 – 17 Oct online at twpuppetryfestival.org only, free to watch

<< Book your tickets for Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival here >>

Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival Map

<< Download the Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival Map here >>


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