DreamBIG Children’s Festival 2023 celebrates more than 100,000 Attendances

AFC-DreamBig-Sea-of-Light-photo-by-Clare-HawleyThousands of South Australian children have explored ‘Our World’ at Adelaide Festival Centre’s DreamBIG Children’s Festival – with more than 100,000 attendances across 10 days of exciting events for babies through to teenagers.

The biennial festival had it all – from dinosaurs roaming the Dunstan Playhouse stage in the Adelaide premiere of Erth’s Prehistoric World to We Come From Far, Far Away by Norway’s NIE Theatre, performed in a traditional Mongolian Yurt inside Adelaide Festival Centre’s Drama Centre Rehearsal Room.

There were more than 200 sold-out performances including dance-theatre work for babies and toddlers The Thing That Matters, illuminating interactive installation Sea of Light, and immersive wonderland Fluffy.

“It has been wonderful to see so many smiles on young people’s faces as they’ve come through Adelaide Festival Centre over the last two weeks,” said DreamBIG Children’s Festival Co-Creative Producers Susannah Sweeney and Georgi Paech.

The BIGGEST Big Family Weekend was a highlight with so many families flocking to Festival Plaza for a weekend of free events and performances plus the popular Kidtrepreneur Markets.

“DreamBIG Children’s Festival has been bringing joy to young South Australians for generations and we look forward to doing it all again in 2025.”

DreamBIG Children’s Festival 2023 officially opened on Wednesday 17 May with more than 1500 students from 17 schools coming together in an opening spectacular at Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre. As part of The Mighty Choir of Small Voices, students sang My Island Home and were led in a mass dance event by youth dance ensemble, Dusty Feet Mob.

In a DreamBIG first, the Opening Event was live streamed into classrooms across the state, allowing an additional 2500 regional students to join the celebrations, bringing the total number of students viewing to 4000 children from 44 schools.

Another highlight this year was the BIGGEST Big Family Weekend yet – larger than ever in celebration of Adelaide Festival Centre’s 50th Anniversary. From 20 – 21 May, families enjoyed more than 30 free events for children of all ages, exhibitions, workshops and food trucks by Fork On The Road.

This year’s BIGGEST Big Family Weekend also saw the return of the Big Family Weekend Gala and Tutti’s Big Sing-a-long at Festival Theatre. The two-day event attracted more than 30,000 attendances at Adelaide Festival Centre and surrounds.

“It is incredible that more than 100,000 young people, teachers and families experienced the magic of the arts at Australia’s preeminent festival for young people, DreamBIG, over the past couple of weeks,” said Minister for Arts the Hon. Andrea Michaels MP.

South Australia is the festival state and supporting the next generation to develop a lifelong love of the arts is important for the ongoing development of our rich cultural sector, and of course, to develop well-rounded, bright festival lovers of the future.

“Congratulations DreamBIG on bringing some of the best theatre and cultural experiences to Adelaide for our young South Australians to enjoy,” said Minister Michaels.

“It was terrific to see so many teachers, students and families enjoying some of Australia’s best arts experiences for children in our venues,” said Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM. “The riverbank precinct was buzzing with the many activities we held during DreamBIG Children’s Festival.

“We love welcoming families to Adelaide Festival Centre throughout the year with the many wonderful upcoming family shows, exhibitions at Children’s Artspace and our CentrEd program,” said Mr Gautier.

Adelaide audiences were the first to enjoy world premiere performances from local artists including an interactive performance at Adelaide City Library I AM, Dungeons & Dragons-inspired Guthrak and Here and There, which brought together six stories from six different artists across the world – Australia, Malaysia, India and Singapore.

Interstate shows that made their Adelaide premiere included WA Youth Theatre Company’s ARCO and Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.

Babies and toddlers joined in on the fun with Lullaby Project Australia’s A Song For Your Child, which gave families the opportunity to create a brand-new, personal lullaby that will last a lifetime.

The festival concluded with Northern Ireland’s Removed – a critically acclaimed story of a young man’s experiences in a state authority system, and two sold out performances of Monkey Baa’s award-winning adaptation of classic Australian story Possum Magic.

The festival offered an inspiring excursion for more than 170 schools who came into Adelaide Festival Centre to attend events, including 30 travelling from regional South Australia to attend. In total, over 200 schools engaged with the festival.

Proudly presented by Adelaide Festival Centre and formerly known as Come Out Festival, DreamBIG is the longest-running children’s festival in the world. For more information, visit: www.dreambigfestival.com.au for details.

Image: Sea of Light – photo by Clare Hawley