Surrey International Children’s Festival is now history, with the new Surrey SPARK Stages taking its place to “ignite imaginations and make memories” for kids and families in the city.
The late-May launch this spring will feature music, theatre, puppets and circus performances at Surrey Arts Centre stages, at a time when the children’s festival would typically be held there and at Bear Creek Park.
SPARK Stages events will be planned year-round by Surrey Civic Theatres, which to date has aimed most of its programming at adult audiences.
“Following a strategic planning and community engagement process, Surrey SPARK Stages has evolved from what was previously the Surrey International Children’s Festival,” explained Kent Gallie, Surrey’s Manager of Performing Arts.
“SPARK programming will focus on performing arts and do more of what the festival did best, present exceptional performances for kids,” he added. “The goal is to expand beyond the three-day kickoff event to provide more opportunities, in more locations on a year-round basis for Surrey residents to access family-focused, professional performing arts that inspire young hearts and minds to greater possibilities.”
From May 27-29, the SPARK launch weekend will include a “Light the SPARK!” all-ages dance party in the arts centre lobby May 27, followed by two “Best of Friends!” concerts by Charlotte Diamond, Fred Penner and Rick Scott, a “Spirit of Harriet Tubman” one-woman show, “The Joshua Show” puppets and circus-duo show “Tweet Tweet!”
Tickets will be sold starting Friday, April 1 at 10 a.m. on the website surrey.ca/spark, or call 604-501-5566.
SPARK performances on May 27 are reserved for Surrey schools to attend.
During the launch weekend, Surrey Arts Centre will be “sprinkled with a sparkle dusting of plenty of free value-added activities for ticketholders to enjoy, including the Wee Studio, a special space for make-believe for little ones,” a news release promises.
Also planned are Stories for the Heart, “old timey storytelling with a modern-day twist in a big blanket fort, walk through a traditional longhouse arch into the Indigenous Creation Courtyard for a celebration of Indigenous culture and art, and many other sparkalicious surprises.”
Surrey International Children’s Festival, once billed as “the only arts-based children’s festival this side of the Fraser River,” was last held in May 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. For 15 years, the multi-day event brought a variety of ticketed and free shows and activities to Bear Creek Park and Surrey Arts Centre.
The festival was among Surrey’s five “Major City Events,” which include Party for the Planet (April 30 this year), Canada Day (July 1), Fusion Festival (July 23-24) and Tree Lighting Festival (November).