Puppets Up! in Almonte is the most charming festival in the Ottawa area.
We went again this year with our daughters (ages 5 and 7) and as usual, we had a great time. For two days, just about every storefront in Almonte’s small downtown has at least one puppet in the window. The townfolk walk around carrying puppet doppelgangers. Most kids walk around with an arm inside a puppet. There are puppet artisans, street performances, and a free parade.
There are performances by professional puppet companies from Canada, the United States and Hungary. This year ten different shows were performed in large tents around Almonte. For $20 (adults) and $10 (kids), you get an unlimited day pass to watch as many shows as you can. We spent so much time walking around this year that we only saw two shows but they were both great.
Tanglewood Marionnettes (Massachussetts) performed The Dragon King, a story based on a Chinese folk tale about a grandmother on a quest to save her village. Two performers, visible at all times, guided the marrionnettes from above the stage, performing dozens of characters including people, sea creatures, a leaping rabbit, and a giant squid. A surprise appearance by the dragon at the very end of the play had the entire audience, kids and adults alike, whooping and applauding madly. From the imaginative design of the creatures to the beautifully painted backdrops, this was puppetry performed at a very high level.
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Bar Harbor, Maine) performed The Legend of the Banana Kid, a goofy homage to old western movies about a kid who dreams of being a cowboy. The creative puppetry and interaction between characters drew big laughs from the audience, and afterwards the performers came out from behind the stage and let kids see how the puppets were manipulated.
A few of my photos are below (and lots more can be found here).
|Scene from “The Legend of the Banana Kid”|
|Performer Erik Torbeck demonstrates a puppet|
|Performer Robin Torbek demonstrates a banana prop|
|This is why there’s a food shortage in Almonte.|
|Man in fancy costume riding an ostrich.|
See also: Ottawa Festivals Guide
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