Family Entertainment at the Edinburgh Fringe - 2016 Highlights for Kids

Recommended Shows for Junior Theatre-Goers and Little Party Animals

Little girl at the theater
••• FrankyDeMeyer / Getty Images

The Edinburgh Fringe is a festival for the whole family. Among the more than 3,269 shows scheduled in 2016, about 5% are for children - from tots to teens - to enjoy with or without their parents in tow. About 163 entrants in the festival are made up of children's theatre, puppetry, kids comedy, dance workshops, storytelling, magic and more. There are plenty of the old favorites making return appearances and lots of new family shows having a go this year.

So strap on those Minions backpacks, pack up the Frozen wheelie bags and head for Edinburgh for great family fun. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Actors Wanted for a Fringe Show: No Mobile - Kids 11 to 14 workshop a show exploring how young people use their mobiles. Working with the children of the Terrifically Adventurous Youth Theatre Association and Fife Youth Arts, up to 20 participants prepare a show to present to family and friends at the end of the workshop. Parental permission required and certified tutors lead the session. At the end, receive a certificate of participation and stills from the show so kids can tell all their friends they appeared on the Edinburgh Fringe. This one's very special with only two sessions on August 10 at Edinburgh Academy.

  • Aladdin  - If you haven't visited Britain during the winter holiday season, this is your chance to see a real, traditional holiday panto, complete with a genie and a panto dame. Aladdin and the wicket Abanazar battle for the hand of Princess Yasmin while Wishee Washey and the Widow Twankey are up to their elbows in laundry suds. Big Squirrel Productions at The Paradise in Augustines, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from August 6, plus August 28.

  • The Amazing Bubble Man - Louis Pearl, the Amazing Bubble Man, has been wowing audiences with science, magic, comedy and audience participation for more than 30 years. He's on his way to becoming the festival's "Mouse Trap" with one sell-out season following another. Bubble volcanoes, tornadoes and trampolines - you ain't seen bubbles until you've seen his show. At Underbelly George Square. Previews from August 4, runs August 6 - 28.

  • Plenty of lively participation events - Dancing and singing, pop, rock and traditional disco, singalong and performance. The Festival is full of events for kids who like to get down and get it on:​

    • Baby Loves Disco - Afternoon party for children with real DJs spinning classic disco, face painting, bubble machine, healthy snacks, chill out zones and lots of dancing. This has been an annual sell-out since 2009 and it never gets old. At the Electric Circus on Market Street once again, Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons, for ages 0-5. Non-walking babies and under 1s free.

    • Big Fish Little Fish - Ravin' Fringe  Another mega dance party for kids, this one aimed at children aged 0 to 8. Real DJs and a real club atmosphere with free glow sticks and transfer tattoos, baby chill, sensory dance floor with glitter cannons, giant balloons, bubbles and "our legendary parachute dance" . Sunday afternoons at Studio 24.

    • CeilidhKids at the Fringe Family workshop for kids 3-7 years with parents or carers willing to join in. Skip, clap and march to traditional Scottish music plus learn simple versions of traditional dances. Young kids learn the social aspects of dancing with a partner. Popular with local Scottish families so if you're visiting from across the seas, it's your chance to mingle with local people. This one is free at Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters. Two 45 minute sessions every morning (except August 18, 23 and 25) throughout the festival.

    • Flamenco for Kids Another perennial sell out. Children three and older get to experience the fabulous music, to dance, stomp and clap and to dress up in flamenco costumes. It's been a smash hit at festivals past. And costumes are provided. Richardo Garcia's Flamenco Flow brings Spain to C venues - C South, August 6-7, 12-13 and 21.

    • Drama Workshops for 5-12s- A different experience every day, from Star Wars to Horrible Histories. These are kids only adventures. Parents drop off and collect with DBS-checked staff. Spotlites Theatre Productions, at their own venue (278) August 2-16, 20-21 and 27-28

  • Comedy Club 4 Kids, returns to Assembly Roxy after 10 successful years. It's a real comedy club "without the rude bits", for kids 6+. Popular year after year and "A highlight for children at the fringe in recent years, giving them a taste of some of the biggest names in comedy ... with the fun, rowdy feel of a real comedy club," says the Guardian. Every evening, August 5 to 28.
  • The Cat in the Hat Paul Taylor-Mills brings the Dr Seuss classic to life in a production originally staged at the National Theatre. Tall hats, big red bow ties and plenty of mischief. A first theater experience for children 3+. At the Pleasance Courtyard, every afternoon August 3 - 21.
  • Morgan & West's Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids (and Childish Grown-ups!)- A return engagement for the time traveling Victorian magic duo. They bring  "...a mountain of mysterious magic, a hatful of hyper-reality, and, of course, a truck-full of tricks and tea, " to Underbelly at Med Quad, afternoon performances daily August 3 to 29, except August 17.
  • Little Red Riding Hood makes two, radically different kinds of appearances at this year's festival:
    • in Red Riding Hood: a New Musical Little Red ventures into the magical forest on a quest to save the family bakery. Lots of original music and a new twist on the classic tale. Suitable for children 4 years and older. Daily, mid- morning, August 3 to 21 at the Pleasance Courtyard. 
    • Red and the Wolf from Prospero Theatre is a much darker experience all together, suitable for adult and older teens (14 +). This retelling of the story is set against a backdrop of war where the inhabitants of the forest are children killed in the conflict, the predators soldiers and wolves. August 17 to 27 except Sunday, at Greenside@Nicolson Square.
  • Shakespeare puts in several appearances, in the year of the 400th anniversary of this death, on the children's theater schedule. Among them:
    • Shakespeare Shorts - Hamlet: Shakespeare at Traquair brings an off-kilter, compic version of the classic tragedy aimed at children 7 and older. "Hamlet's got the hump. Uncle Claudius is conniving, mother Gertrude's hit the bottle, and girlfriend Ophelia's away with the fairies." At noon, August 5,8,10 and 12 at theSpace on Niddry Street.
    • Shakespeare Shorts - Romeo and Juliet: Another from Shakespeare at Traquair, this time an innovative take on the story, specially adapted for children. Noon August 6,9, 11 and 13 at theSpace on Niddry Street.
    • Shakin' Shakespeare  Brave Macbeth, Cheer Up Hamlet, Romantic Romeo. Three short adaptations, mixing Shakespeare's words with "wickedly witty songs, slapstick and fast-paced storytelling". August 3 to 29, mid-morning, Gilded Balloon at the Museum. 
    • The Play's the Thing: Shakespeare for Kids- Meet the Bard and lots of his characters.  "Hamlet has just seen a ghost; Bottom and friends are rehearsing for a very important performance; Puck's up to all sorts of tricks...and watch out for the witches." Hilarity and lots of audience participation. At  C venues, C South, for children aged 3 and older, August 4 -14 and 16-29.
  • Braveheart - Spotlites Theatre produces an interactive play for ages 5 to 12. Battle the English with real claymores. Kids come on stage throughout the production to help William Wallace fight for freedom. The Sunday Mail gave it 5 stars. Early afternoon August 2 -16, 19 -21 and 26 -28 at Spotlites, venue 278.
  • Release Your Inner Cartoonist Draw along with BBC Radio 4 comedy writer and Guardian cartoonist Harry Venning. Learn uses for the humble asterisk (including rude ones) and how to turn a flat piece of paper into a riot of humor and noise. The promise - "Fun for all the family. Except the miserable ones. Don't bring them." August 3 -20, mid morning at The Pleasance Courtyard. 
  • Michael Morpurgo's King Arthur Multi-award winning Story Pocket Theatre brings a new work by the author of War Horse and Private Peaceful. The epic tale of magic, heroism, love and betrayal in Camelot. Adventure, physical theater and first class storytelling. Gilded Balloon at the Museum, afternoons, August 3-15, 17-21, 23-29