Ards Puppet Festival Returns from May 24 – 27

The DaSilva Marionette Circus Troupe will be joined by Belfast's The Grimm Brothers this May Bank Holiday

This May Bank Holiday weekend, the Ards Arts Centre celebrates the 12th annual Ards Puppet Festival with a first-class programme of puppetry running from Friday, May 24 to Monday, May 27.

Events will be taking place at various venues throughout the Borough, with the main Puppet Open Day celebration at Ards Arts Centre on Saturday, May 25. The festival is peppered with Northern Ireland puppet premiers, featuring first performances by local and national puppet companies.

Making their first ever visit to Northern Ireland, the renowned DaSilva Marionette Circus Troupe will bring aerial acrobatics, cycling stunts, trampolining ups and downs and cheeky clowns to the big top stage outside the Ards Arts Centre.

Brought back to life by Noisy Oyster, the puppet company formed by the DaSilva family's son, Nik Palmer, the traditional family show has been brought up to date with all the thrills and spills of a real-life circus.

Noisy Oyster is also responsible for another first in the festival line-up, The Three Billy Pigs, a show which blends two classic fairy tales – The Three Little Pigs and The Three Billy Goats Gruff – with beautifully crafted puppets, light-hearted storytelling and live music.

The legendary Banyon Puppet Theatre Company returns to Ards with Legendary Tales, a brand new show which uses storytelling, glove and rod puppets, shadow puppets and original music, to recount three traditional children's stories from Ireland, India and China.

Meanwhile, Belfast-based puppeteers, The Brothers Grimm, will also be presenting the first viewing of their new Toxic Tomfoolery show, a madcap story of manic mutant meltdowns and aliens, which takes place in a science lab.

The Ards Puppet Festival is organised by Ards Borough Council's arts service, and will include a one-day puppet extravaganza of street theatre, workshops and performances, as well as puppet shows in venues across the area, including Portaferry, Comber and Donaghadee.

Festival Coordinator and Community Arts Development Officer with Ards Borough Council, Amy McKelvey, said the 2013 programme is one of the best to date.

'The calibre of performers in this year's festival is second to none, and I'm particularly pleased to have some of the great names of puppetry, like the DaSilvas, featured for the first time. The magic of puppetry in all its forms and for all ages is included in the programme and is not to be missed.'

The Ards Puppet Festival runs from Friday, May 24 to Monday, May 27. For full programme details visit the Ards Arts Centre website.