Penn Live Arts Blog

It’s time for the 2023 Philadelphia Children’s Festival

Posted April 12, 2023

Children's Festival

At Penn Live Arts, the return of cherry blossoms to our Outdoor Plaza can mean only one thing: the steady approach of our Philadelphia Children’s Festival, entering its 37th year this May 20th through 23rd.

Like all large public gatherings, the Children’s Festival was on extended hiatus throughout the pandemic and had a soft return in 2022. This year, it will look more the way our audiences remember it, with live performances of dance, theatre and music for pre-K to middle-school students. Shadow-illusion company CATAPULT invites audiences into a world made entirely of light and its absence; Indigenous Enterprise, a dance troupe representing a range of American tribal backgrounds, fuses traditional ritual dance with the immediacy of hip-hop. Literature to Life, a company committed to minimalist adaptations of classic literature and educational engagement, presents its one-actor version of Lois Lowry’s beloved The Giver. Fans of author Todd Parr’s vibrantly colored, childlike drawings will enjoy Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s adaptation of his stories in It’s Okay to be Different.

Something to celebrate at this year’s Festival is our recent KultureCity certification as a sensory-inclusive venue, the first such designation in Philadelphia for a performing arts venue. PLA’s KultureCity toolkit includes resource bags that patrons can access at the Box Office, as well as dedicated quiet spaces throughout the Annenberg Center. The Saturday, May 20th performance of BKBXKids!’s playful Destination: Everywhere will be PLA’s first performance specifically geared for audiences with varying sensory needs and include accommodations like spaced seating and a tech-friendly row for patrons who prefer device access during the show. Destination: Everywhere, though, is inclusive by design, and the additional BKBXKids! performances will also invite movement and noisemaking while featuring live ASL interpretation.

We’re hoping the good weather is on a streak so that families and school groups can enjoy the Festival PLAYground on the Annenberg Center Outdoor Plaza, with free Sunday performances by bilingual musical duo 123 Andrés (tip: say it in Spanish!) and local favorite the Give & Take Jugglers. Partners from arts organizations across the city will offer activities and games for children, families and teachers, including the Free Library’s Instrument Lending and Children’s Departments; Philly Children’s Theatre; Fleisher Art Memorial’s ColorWheels; The Clay Studio and many more. BKBXKids! will also host a mime workshop for children and caregivers on Sunday, May 21st (never fear—talking is allowed!).

Visit for more details and to purchase tickets. We can’t wait to welcome families to our Children’s Festival May 20-21 and school groups May 22-23.

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