For one weekend only: marionette magic in Beverley

A medieval minster town in East Yorkshire will once again become a centre of marionette madness whenthe world’s largest festival of British puppetry returns this summer.

Staged only every two years, Beverley Puppet Festival transforms the cobbled streets of the picturesque market town into a stage for the biggest celebration of home-grown puppetry anywhere in the world.

Over the weekend of 17-19 July 2020, crowds will be treated to a host of puppetry performances and workshops for children and adults, along with free outdoor events – while there will be plenty of marionette magic on the streets in between shows as well.

Since the festival launched in 2005, every other year hundreds of puppets, from marionettes to Muppets, have taken over this small market town for one weekend only.

But if you conjure-up visions of traditional Punch & Judy, Sooty and Sweep, or fond memories of the likes of Thunderbirds when you think of puppets, then think again.

Beverley Puppet Festival is set to prove once again just how diverse and powerful this art form can be… and not just for kids. While there will be plenty of family entertainment on offer, the last festival in 2018 featured five evening shows for adults only (or at least the over 12s!).

Under the shadow of the magnificent 13th century Minster, Beverley – with its narrow streets and historic buildings – comes alive with amazing sights.

Previous years have seen space-age dinosaurs bounding down the high street; green woodland sprites leaping onto people’s arms for a chat about composting; and an old man puppet in a wheelchair accompanied by dancing fossils.

While this year’s line-up is yet to be revealed, Beverley Friary will be the daytime festival hub and there will also be workshops with a chance to “design and make your own puppet”.

And although the Festival challenges traditional images of puppetry, no puppet festival would be complete without an actual appearance by Punch and Judy, who have been around for over 350 years, so expect a visit from these historic favourites at some point too.

To stay updated on details of this year’s Festival,

For more details about things to do and where to stay, see


IMAGE CREDIT: Beverley Puppet Festival – ‘The Keeper’s Nests’ by Judith Hope’