Cheltenham Rocks

What's Happening at the Children's Festival Cheltenham?

The second 'Children’s Festival Cheltenham' takes place across venues in town this weekend and we caught up with Cate Hamilton from Babel Babies to find out a little more about what’s going on and how you can get involved.

1 What is Children's Festival Cheltenham?

Children's Festival Cheltenham is a 3-day celebration of the importance of children and childhood, and the first Children's Festival took place in 2016. This year the theme is 'How Child Friendly is Cheltenham?' and there will be plenty of debate around this topic, as well as activity zones related to the Unicef child friendly city standards.

The festival starts on Friday 26th May in schools, with many schools holding picnics during the school day, and then on Saturday 27th there is a flashmob outside M&S on the High Street at 11.45am and again at The Brewery at 12.20pm. It has been choreographed by the children of Gardners Lane Primary School and learned by the children from the other primary schools.

Sunday 28th May is the big event with masses of activities happening at the Town Hall from 10am-3pm; storytelling, arts and music at The Wilson from 11am-3pm; debates organised by the children of Pittville School at the Municipal Offices on the Prom from 11am-2pm; and street entertainment outside M&S on the High Street from 11am-3pm.

2 What kind of activities will children be able to get up to?

There is so much happening on Sunday 28th that you could easily spend the whole day at the Children's Festival!

The Town Hall zones include 'We Need to Play' with science, art, wildlife, dressing up and theatre activities in the Pillar Room. 'We Want to Learn' in the main hall is the place to explore classic science experiments and learn to code, as well as participating in interactive story, poetry and music sessions. ‘We are Healthy’ in the Drawing Room and outside spaces includes football, yoga, massage, lots of fun play activities with The Cheltenham Trust and learning all about eyes with Specsavers! Also outside is ‘We Keep Safe’ where children can learn from the Fire and Rescue Service and how to be a real firefighter! At the back of the main hall is the ‘This is Our Home’ area where children can explore where in the world they and their families come from, what languages are spoken around the world, read books, build structures from unusual materials (and try to destroy them!) and start a family scrap book.

3 What sort of ages will get the most from the Festival?

It’s going to be perfect for children of all ages, as there are activities aimed at little ones (babies are welcome at Tatty Bumpkin Yoga and Babel Babies multilingual music sessions, for example), right the way through primary school age to the teens. I think any children of primary age will have an incredible day with a lot of variety to keep them busy!

4 Is there anything for grown-ups?

The Children’s Festival is centred around the children, and adults will get a lot of enjoyment from seeing how much fun their little tribes are having. Babel Babies will welcome adults to sing songs and read stories with their little ones in many languages and we hear there is a 3D driving experience that adults can participate in too in the ‘We Keep Safe’ zone outside the Town Hall.

5 The Festival is spread around town this year, is it possible to visit more than one place?

Yes definitely! Head over to the Municipal Offices for the ‘Our Views Matter’ zone where the pupils of Pittville School will be debating whether 16 year olds should be given the vote, whether social media should be more regulated and if the curriculum meets the needs of 21st century learners. At The Wilson there will be interactive music, art and storytelling activities from 11am-3pm, and there is street entertainment outside M&S on the High Street too.

6 How much does it cost?

It is completely free to participate in all of the activities.

7 Are refreshments available?

Fosters Café will be selling refreshments at the Town Hall on Sunday 28th, and of course Cheltenham has lots of fantastic family-friendly places to eat!

8 What are you most looking forward to about the Festival?

I’m really excited to be welcoming some of our local Syrian refugee families to the Babel Babies corner to help us sing Arabic songs and make the children’s names in Arabic script out of play dough! I also can’t wait to see how many new languages we encounter on the day to add to our growing repertoire. Bring along your family’s favourite foreign-language book to share with us. We love learning languages together!

So there you have it! If you have any futher questions about Cheltenham Children's Festival, pop over to the Facebook Event Page where you can ask questions in the discussion area.

If you're heading along, have a great day.

Cate Hamilton is the co-founder of Babel Babies, multilingual, multisensory music sessions where parents and children, from birth up to school age, learn languages together. To find out more, visit the Babel Babies website.