Things to do at half-term at Imagine Children’s Festival

YolanDa Brown wearing a colourful jacket holding a saxophone surrounded by her band.

The February half-term hits early this year, so it pays to be prepared.

Thankfully, we’re here to save the day with the return of our annual Imagine Children’s Festival, over 100 events throughout the Southbank Centre across 11 fun-filled days, 7 – 17 February. From theatre and performances, to music and dance, and appearances from some of your little ones’ favourite authors and characters. There’s plenty going on to keep them entertained, and here are just a few highlights from our packed programme.


Cartoon of two characters in a submarine, surrounded by various sea creatures
BBC Cbeebies
Tue 13 Feb, 1.30pm & 3.45pm | Royal Festival Hall

CBeebies Ocean Adventure

Imagine our Royal Festival Hall as a submarine, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra its musical crew, then you’re ready to join CBeebies ocean adventure for all the family. Also on board the submarine pod are CBeebies favourites JoJo and Gran Gran, Andy, and more CBeebies friends ready to report on their adventures as they collect sounds and pictures from the deep in this magical multi-media event featuring animation, performance and music.

Book now for Ocean Adventure

Five actors wearing pyjamas jumping over cardboard boxes.
Dan Tucker
Thu 15 – Sat 17 Feb, various times | Queen Elizabeth Hall

Starchitects: A Cosmic Adventure

Join five children who long to reach the moon from their bedroom as they plan a daring mission to realise their dream. Will they succeed? And if they do, what will they find up there? Mixing graffiti-defying choreography, digital projections and Motionhouse’s trademark dance circus, Starchitects is a show full of fun and thrilling surprises. A funny, entertaining tribute to the possibilities of our imaginations. 

Book now for Starchitects

A man sits on a very large white chair
Camilla Greenwell
Fri 9 & Sat 10 Feb, 2.30pm & 6.30pm | Queen Elizabeth Hall

Chotto Desh

Enjoy a compelling dance-theatre production from Akram Khan Company that brings to life a boy’s dreams and memories, from Britain to Bangladesh. Blending Kathak and contemporary dance with a mix of spoken text, dreamy animation, visuals and specially composed music, Chotto Desh celebrates the resilience of the human spirit in a performance that will appeal to children and adults.

Book now for Chotto Desh

Four actors stand on stage holding up colourful boxes and wearing hats.
Pamela Raith Photography
Wed 7 – Fri 9 Feb, various times | Purcell Room

There’s a Monster in Your Show

As a group of performers get ready to put on a show they realise they’re not alone on stage. Little Monster wants to join in, and get his friends – Dragon, Alien and Unicorn – involved too. Cue much comedy and chaos and lessons of friendship and the joy in reading. Adapted from Tom Fletcher’s book series, Who’s in Your Book?, There’s a Monster in Your Show is a high-energy interactive musical show packed with playful fun. 

Book now for There’s a Monster…

YolanDa Brown wearing a colourful jacket holding a saxophone surrounded by her band.
Mon 12 Feb, 2.30pm | Royal Festival Hall

YolanDa’s Band Jam and Friends

A regular at the Southbank Centre and Imagine Children’s Festival, saxophonist YolanDa Brown returns to introduce families to the joys of music in this updated live version of her acclaimed CBeebies TV show. Packed with singing, dancing and playing, this show will also see YolanDa and her Bandjaminals joined by two special guests to help bring the wonder of music-making to life.

Book now for YolanDa’s Band Jam

Actor in a black and white dress looking at a puppet on a microphone stand, being held by another actor. There are musical instruments, speakers and radios in the background.
Alex Harvey-Brown
Sat 10 & Sun 11 Feb, various times | Purcell Room

The Instrumentals

More musical fun, this time courtesy of May Manuel and Elliot Liburd, in a show which features comedy, brilliant puppetry and live music. Whilst exploring her late grandfather’s basement Belle (Manuel) stumbles across some dusty old musical instruments. But far from junk, these instruments soon show Belle a reason to be cheerful via some soulful sounds and 1970s grooves.

Book now for The Instrumentals

Cartoon illustration of pirates on a beach playing musical instruments with their ship sailing in the sea behind them.
Seb Burnett
Wed 14 & Thu 15 Feb, various times | Purcell Room

Grooving with Pirates

Created to give parents the opportunity to experience concert hall-quality music in a child-friendly environment, Grooving with Pirates is a unique, cool form of musical theatre featuring musicians from the current UK jazz circuit. Ideal for 3 – 7 year olds, the show fuses animation and live action as we follow three pirate friends on a mission to seek treasure, backed by the swashbuckling sounds of the Groove Baby Organ Trio.

Book now for Grooving with Pirates

The David Gibb Band members are posing in the middle with their music instruments to hand surrounded by a colourful animated background and cartoon characters.
Andrew Walmsley
Wed 7 Feb, 11.30am & 2.30pm | Queen Elizabeth Hall

The David Gibb Big Band

Another musical adventure as you’re encouraged to join David Gibb and his band on a musical journey filled with audience interaction. This first-gig experience follows along Gibb’s funny but often surreal imagination, from wolves in school corridors, to teddy bears at a disco, with ample opportunities for you to join in the fun, dancing and singing along in your seats. Expect groovy beats, funky keys, slick bass lines, chiming guitars and soaring horns through music the whole family can enjoy.

Book now for The David Gibb Big Band

Illustration from Gaston Le Dog by Michael Rosen and Viviane Schwarz
Viviane Schwarz
Sun 11 Feb, 3pm | Queen Elizabeth Hall

An Afternoon with Michael Rosen

Don’t miss the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the company of national treasure Michael Rosen. The poet and author joins us to introduce his new book, The Incredible Adventures of Gaston Le Dog, a playful tale of myth and magic and one dog’s odyssey to return to the beautiful beach he remembers from years ago. With the book having been inspired by the stories Rosen used to tell his son on holiday, expect personal stories and anecdotes as well as a revisiting of some of his, and our, favourite characters. 

Book now for Michael Rosen

John Agard looks into the camera
Sara Roque Peres

Authors and Illustrators

Michael Rosen is far from the only children’s author appearing at our Imagine Children’s Festival. On Sunday 11 February you can spend A Morning with Rob Biddulph, as the award-winning author and illustrator brings to life a number of his books including his latest character, Gigantic, a small whale with a big heart. On Friday 16 February the legendary author and performance poet John Agard joins us to celebrate his new picture book, Windrush Child, with performative readings that evoke the journeys made by the children and families of the Windrush Generation. And between these established authors we welcome a newer voice, as TV comedia Rosie Jones introduces her sparky and hilarious new book, The Friend Mission, the third in her Edie Eckhart story series.

Rosie Jones: The Amazing Edie Eckhart

A Morning with Rob Biddulph

John Agard: Windrush Child & Other Stories

Dr Ronx wears a blue suit in front of a leafy backdrop, holding their book
Liam Arthur

For the budding scientists

We’ve two fascinating events for any budding scientists or would-be doctors. On Friday 16 February doctor and TV presenter Dr Ronx shares their incredible story of becoming an emergency medicine doctor, and leads an exploration of the human body framed by their new illustrated non-fiction book, Amazing Bodies. That follows a glimpse into the future on Thursday 15 February courtesy of Patrick Kane and his book about the achievements of medical engineering, Human 2.0. Kane looks at how technology, from pacemakers to bionic limbs have changed lives in an event featuring a fun interactive quiz.

Dr Ronx: Amazing Bodies

Patrick Kane: Human 2.0

Illustration from Luna Loves Gardening by Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers
Fiona Lumbers

For the nature lovers

On Saturday 17 February we welcome the Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho to our Purcell Room with award-winning illustrator Fiona Lumbers to present their new book Luna Loves Gardening. Coelho brings to life Luna’s story, as she herself finds out the stories behind the plants and vegetables growing in her local community garden. The natural world is also a source of inspiration for MG Leonard, whose books Twitch, Spark, Clutch and Feather have been inspired by a love of birdwatching. In this engaging and humorous talk Leonard introduces the many birds who’ve become characters in her stories. 

Joseph Coelho: Luna Loves Gardening

An afternoon with MG Leonard

Person holding binoculars, a backpack, camping gear and a globe, looking shocked, surrounded by cartoon creatures with a watery background.
The Marvellous Myth Hunter

Interactive excitement

For the little ones who love to get involved and throw themselves into storytime the Marvellous Myth Hunter is leading to missions on Saturday 17 February. The first, Mad Monsterzz, sees him ask for your help in tracking down some of the wildest and wackiest creatures, from an Indian Warrior Princess to Medusa’s serpentine locks. Then in Family Feuds, sibling squabbles from around the ancient world get the Marvellous Myth Hunter treatment. And speaking of families, on Saturday 10 February, we’ve a day of games and laughter with added competition in our Clore Ballroom courtesy of The Intergenerational Game.

The Marvellous Myth Hunter: Mad Monsterzz

The Marvellous Myth Hunter: Family Feuds

The Intergenerational Game: Lunar New Year Edition

A man wearing a yellow jumper sits on a stool and plays a guitar surrounded by children and parents.
MOON SARIS, Moon Saris

For babies, toddlers and young children

Across Imagine Children’s Festival we try to cater for children of all ages, including events for your very youngest. Events like Rockaby (13 – 15 February), in which the musical collective Frisse Oren create a sensory feast for little ones with gentle live music and coloured lights. Created for children aged 3 – 6, Boxed In (10 & 11 February) is a playful, fun performance about someone who can’t make head nor tail of the rules. Turning the rules upside down is also at the heart of The Sticky Dance (7 – 9 February), an interactive and colourful performance installation that’s pitched at 3 – 5 year olds and their grown-ups.


Boxed In

The Sticky Dance

Two quirky and colourful characters are displayed on a square image with a teal background for Imagine Children's Festival.
Imagine Children’s Festival

These are just some of the events from this year’s festival, which takes place across the Southbank Centre on 7 – 17 February.