Inspiring a new generation of authors at The Big Malarkey Festival


Hull’s first ever children’s literature festival kicks off today and it looks absolutely incredible.

Designed especially to inspire those aged 0-16, The Big Malarkey Festival brings together some of the best children’s writers, illustrators, cartoonists, performers and musicians to celebrate the arts.

We spoke to Festival Director, Ellen Bianchini, to find out more:

“On Monday, we have Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, popping in for a book signing and Q&A,” Ellen tells us.

“Throughout the week, numerous acclaimed authors will discuss their work, including Jeremy Strong, Steve Cole and A.F. Harrold. Julian Clary will be also chatting about his book series, The Bolds, over the weekend.”

Other special guests include Nick Arnold and Lydia Monks, as well as poets Rob Gee, Simon Panrucker and illustrators from the Hull School of Art and Design, just to name a few. In the meantime, enchanting storytelling sessions will be led by Hull-based theatre group Broccolily, Just Soph and Travelling Treasury.

“We are putting on various workshops for the kids to take part in,” Ellen continues. “Ten Foot Dance Company are doing a movement class with a superhero theme.”

East Park will come alive with creativity as Hull Scrapstore transforms the space into a haven for budding creatives. There will be five magical tents, an under 5s area, performance zones, a digital hub and a plethora of bookshops to browse.

“For the older children, Annabel Pitcher will be there talking about her latest book Silence is Goldfish,” says Ellen. “The aim is to have something for everyone.”

During the week there will be a five-day school programme, where local pupils can explore the event with their classmates, meet authors and learn something at the several exciting workshops.

From 3:30pm until 5:30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the festival will be open to the general public. These ‘teatime taster sessions’ give families a chance to enjoy some of the highlights.

“We want to inspire children to create their own tales and enjoy storytelling in all its forms, whether that’s through craft, written word, performance or music,” adds Ellen.

Meanwhile, children aged 14 and under can take part in KCOM’s Young Writers competition. This offers the opportunity to add a new section to an ongoing story, with the first chapter written by local children’s author Calvin Innes.

Every child who enters will receive a KCOM K6 phone box key ring. Once the story’s complete, it will be turned into an exciting animation that will be shown at Freedom Festival in September.

As for Big Malarkey, by the time the weekend rolls around the festivities will be in full swing. Both Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 July are jam-packed full of special story times, hilarious comedy acts and additional stalls to wander around.

To finish, The Big Malarkey is hosting a grand costumed storybook ball. Youngsters and their families can create their own outfits and headdresses at an array of stations throughout the day.

“We live in a very complicated world and the arts can really help you to make sense of things, and this is especially vital for young people,” Ellen maintains. “Also, literature is enjoyable and fun, and that’s important too.”

Tickets for this event are absolutely free, but you will need to reserve one to enter. Please visit The Big Malarkey Festival website for more details.

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