Tickets go on sale for The Big Malarkey Festival

From the bestselling author of the much loved classic, Madame Doubtfire, to discovering the joys of new authors, Hull’s much-loved family event The Big Malarkey Festival returns on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 June with a programme centred around playfulness, discovery and simple joys of connecting with nature.

Hosted by Hull Libraries, The Big Malarkey aims to bring a sense of fun, optimism and a smile to people’s faces with an invitation to come together to celebrate and experience the magic of books.

After a year in which stories and imagination provided escapism for all ages, this year’s festival will see well-known authors and illustrators come together alongside local artists, creators and makers in a careful, considered and socially distanced way to showcase the wonderful world the city’s libraries offer.

Hello World is the theme for this year’s festival, which will once again take place in East Park, with the return of the Big Top and Little Larkeys tents alongside new tents including Beautiful Planet, a space to reflect on nature and the environment.

Sessions inside the different tents will be complemented by the usual host of outdoor and pop up activities, with families reunited with new and familiar faces, including storyteller Ian Douglas, and Grimm & Co, Apothecary to the Magical World. 

The line-up includes bestselling author Anne Fine; Chris Wormell, leading children’s illustrator (Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust series) and creator of the hugely popular The Magic Place; and Maisie Paradise Shearring, international award-winning illustrator and author of picture books such as The Boy Who Loved Everyone. 

Established during Hull’s year as UK City of Culture 2017, this year’s festival will open on Monday 21 June with an action-packed five-day schools programme, followed by an imagination-inspiring public programme of live events for families to enjoy on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 June.

Ellen Bianchini, Festival Director, explained: “We’re very excited to release tickets and open the doors to our festival, we can’t wait to be reunited in person with families once again.

“It’s been an incredibly challenging two years and we hope this year’s Malarkey will be a place of gentle recovery, where we can safely come together again to play, chat, explore and look to the future. To help add a little fun into all our lives, this year’s programme is more than ever centred around playfulness, discovery and simple joys, like listening to live music.

“Every year the safety of our audience, team and staff is a priority but this year we’re working to make our family friendly site in East Park even safer for everyone. While it might feel a bit different from previous years, with lower numbers, ventilated tents and hand sanitiser stations, working together with families we’re confident we can still offer a great festival experience.

“Over the coming weeks we’ll continue to work closely with the events team at Hull City Council to ensure a safe environment for audiences, staff and volunteers.” 

This year The Big Malarkey will take the fun direct to school with a five-day school’s programme – it’s biggest programme yet – offering interactive sessions for children from Reception to KS3, with a mix of live online events and in-person workshops in schools.

Available exclusively to Hull Libraries Schools Library Service Schools, over 2,500 students will take part in workshops with award-winning authors and illustrators including Winnie the Witch illustrator Korky Paul, who will run a drawing workshop for KS2.

Ginny Smith of Braintastic! will run an interactive session with KS3 exploring neuroscience to understand memory, while KS1 students will meet scientist and explorer Sarah Roberts of Somebody Swallowed Stanley to explore the effects of plastic pollution on sharks.

KS2 students will also be joined by fantasy writer Ali Sparkes, winner of the Blue Peter Book of the Year, and given the opportunity to make their own story scrolls with a tutorial from storyteller supreme, Sita Brand from Settle Stories.

In-person sessions at schools will be led by a range of local and national artists, including Hull Truck Theatre, James Nicol, Middle Child Theatre, Makerspace team, puppet artist Liz Dorton, paper engineer Alex Bennett, Early Years theatre makers Mud Pie Arts and clown-actor Andy Ross.

The school’s programme will also include the KS2 and KS3 James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award. Hull is the only city to run a book award where it is a live vote on the day voted for by the city’s young people.

Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, Chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “The Big Malarkey is about books and stories, yes, but it’s also a festival of ideas and imagination with performances, creative workshops and storytelling.

“The festival seeks to encourage creativity, confidence and the joy of discovery through offering opportunities to meet and work with authors, illustrators, artists, thinkers and scientists. We’re very excited for its return this year, it’s the tonic we all need.”

Since The Big Malarkey Festival began in 2017 it has attracted nearly 20,000 people to enter Malarkey Park. 

Tickets are now on sale and priced from £5 for adults, £2.50 for children (1 – 16 years), and £14 for a group of 2 adults and 2 children. Babies in arms go free, disabled adults £4. Tickets are available from branches of Hull Libraries or at