(Editor's Note: These are 2012 highlights. I'll make my 2013 picks as soon as the Edinburgh program is announced. Meanwhile, check out the list to see what you can expect from the Edinburgh Festivals.)
The Edinburgh Fringe is a festival for the whole family. Among the more than 2,600 shows scheduled in 2012, there's a good selection of children's theatre, puppetry, kids comedy, dance workshops and more for children - from tots to teens - to enjoy with or without their parents in tow. So strap on those Spongebob backpacks, pack up the Brave wheelie bags and head for Edinburgh for great family fun. Here are some of the highlights:
Updated Feb 2 2013
The Brothers Grimm and their fairy tales are all over the festival this year - but make sure you check the program details before leading your little ones into the theatre. At least two of the productions are aimed at adults, 16+. Three Grimm-based kids shows are:
- Rumplestiltskin's Grimm Tales combines puppetry, storytelling and performance in a rambunctious search for the Golden Goose. BG Touring Company, a venture by second year drama students at Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln perform at Paradise in Augustine's with a PG rating for kids 3+
- The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon Two narrators and a troupe of actors attempt race through all 209 stories the Grimm brothers collected - from classics like Snow White to the weird and wonderful, like The Devil's Grandmother and The Girl Without Hands - in a frenetic and hysterical hour and 15 minutes from the American High School Theatre Festival.
- Cinderella: The Musical, Also from the American High School theatre Festival, Cinderella is reinvented as a bookish, nearsighted heroine who captures the studious prince. Singers, dancers, lots of jokes and a family-friendly U rating.
Elsewhere around the Fringe, their's a good mix of family-friendly old favorites and newcomers to suit all ages:
- 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. In 2012 it's at the Electric Circus on Market Street once again, Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons, for ages 0-7.
- Bernard the Ferret (Happy to be Himself) Edinburgh fans will recognize Bernard as a regular street performer on the Royal Mile. This year he has his own book and his own show with storytelling and puppets plus a workshop after each show. At Oxgangs Library,
- Comedy Club 4 Kids, returns to the Bongo Club. 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.
- Petya and the Wolf - variously described as a musical fairytale, puppet theatre without puppets, a mute opera and a pocket circus, this is part of the festival's Russian Season, from Theatre la Pushkin,at the Assembly Rooms.
- Flamenco for Kids Children three and older get to experience the fabulous music, to dance, stomp and clap and to dress up in flamenco costumes. Richardo Garcia's Flamenco Flow brings Spain to Theatre C at Edinburgh College of Art.
- Lapin Wants Ice Cream The Petit Monde company helps budding linguists aged three to five can pick up a bit of French in cross cultural puppet show about a hungry bunny. After a 2011 debut when Lapin wanted breakfast, he's back in 2012, hungry for treats - in English with carefully chosen and repeated French words.
- The Man Who Planted Trees - Another perennial favorite, this award-winning puppetry adaptation of Jean Giono's environmental tale of war and regeneration, laughter, heartbreak and wit. Features what the Guardian called "the best dog puppet ever". At the Scottish Storytelling Center
- The Golden Cowpat - Tucked in Productions, in a co-production with Greenwich theatre reprise 2011's five-star Fringe favorite. Follow naughty cow Betty and her farmer Hector on their magical adventure. "...A thrilling concoction of eccentric, high-energy storytelling and catchy folk music." In the Pleasance Courtyard.
- The Amazing Bubble Show - Louis Pearl is the Amazing Bubble Man and he has been wowing audiences with science, magic, comedy and audience participation for more than 30 years. You ain't seen bubbles until you see his show.
- Fair, Brown and Trembling - Scottish company Theatre Alba returns to the lovely Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens in the shadow of Arthur's Seat for a magical version of an Irish folk tale that could be the original Cinderella story. Children adore this company's outdoor performances.
- Horrible Histories - Barmy Britain - Why did the Roman's never win Master Chef? What if a Viking moved next door? What did baby farmers do? Answers to these an other questions in Birmingham Stage's "horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in."
- Peter Pan on Dinosaur Island - pits Peter against T-Rex. Kids get to come onstage to pelt Captain Hook with "dinosaur droppings."
- Twelfth Night - Bristol Old Vic Theatre School introduces the whole family to Shakespeare with their version of Twelfth Night, featuring fools in love, cross-dressing and skiffle music at the seaside.