Every year since 2009 a strange purple cow has popped up – or rather tipped upside down on the South Bank, marking the start of Udderbelly, one of London’s most popular festivals. Neighbouring the Udderbelly site and running almost concurrently is London Wonderground, a spectacular of cabaret, circus and sideshows all hosted inside its own beautiful 1920s Paradiso Spiegeltent.
Attracting hoards of beer swigging Londoners in the spring-summer sunshine, families could be mistaken for thinking it might all be a bit ‘grown up’ for them, but fear not! Yes, there is plenty within the programme for those lucky enough to steal a rare night out, but during the day, across two festivals and five months there is more than Lola’s Hot Dogs for arts-loving families to be sinking their teeth into.
Here’s my top picks:
Comedy Club For Kids
21st May – 16th July 2016, suitable for age 6+
So many stand-up comedians rely on swearing and vulgarity these days to pull in the laughs, so wouldn’t it be refreshing to see top-draw comedians perform the best of their wears, without the rude bits? As well as that the crowd are promised ‘never the same gig twice’. Sounds better than grown up comedy any day.
Double helpings of Schlomo’s Beatbox Adventure
2nd – 22nd May 2016 and 29th August, suitable for all ages
Occupying a space in the line-up of both festivals, the world-record breaking beatboxer returns to make music with nothing but his mouth and a mic.
Retelling of the Jungle Book
13th – 28th August 2016, suitable for age 8+
Hot on the heels of this year’s eagerly awaited remake of Walt Disney’s 1967 cartoon, this unique theatrical production brings the story of Mowgli into the 21st century, setting it in an urban jungle and packing it with street dance and circus.
The Showstoppers’ Fantastical Story Factory
7th May – 2nd July 2016, suitable for age 6+
Embracing the impromptu nature of working with kids, little people are given a free rein to set the storytelling agenda with this improvised musical show for kids.
Round it all off with Bedtime Stories
30th August – 4th September 2016, suitable for age 3-10
When it all gets too exhausting it’s great to know that you can just tuck yourself up in this bedroom installation and let the chaos outside wash over you, through magical light projections, theatre and dance.
Udderbelly runs until 17th July.
London Wonderground runs from 5th May to 25th September.
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road Coach Park, London SE1 8XX.
Admission prices vary.