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The Big Malarkey Festival

The Big Malarkey Festival is Hull's children's literature festival and is held annually in June.

In 2017 Hull Libraries established a new children's literature festival, funded by the James Reckitt Library Trust and Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

The festival was started with the intention to become an annual event in the Hull festival calendar that:

  • Celebrates children's literature in all its forms
  • Invites creativity through activities and workshops
  • Promotes the work of Hull Libraries for children, schools and families

The free week-long festival took place from Monday 26 June – Sunday 2 July 2017 and brought together writers, illustrators, cartoonists, performers, musicians and artists to a colourful tented village in East Park. Nearly 8000 people came to the park to explore the boundless world of stories for children and try their hand at all kinds of creative and practical activities.

The programme for 2017 included:

Mon 26 - Fri 30 June / Schools Programme & Tea-Time Tasters - Half-day packages for schools KS1 - KS3, including author talks, hands-on workshops in writing, play-making, illustration, 3D model making, craft and digital art. Four themes included: Funny Bone, Cliffhanger, Jeopardy, Myth & Magic

Wed 28 June / James Reckitt Hull Children's Book Award - Celebrating it’s 10th year, the book award brought together over 400 children from Hull's primary schools to choose the winning author from the year's KS3 shortlist.

Sat 1 July - Sun 2 July / Family programme - Author talks and book signings, drop-in workshops, performances and story-telling, finishing with an all-dancing finale.

Award: £72,000

From 2018 the festival received additional funding from Arts Council England and sponsorship and support from local businesses wanting to help develop the young people of Hull.

The Trust was proud to fund the three day schools programme with the aim of giving children an intense, inspiring and creative experience, in an unusual and exciting setting of a festival site, working with professional artists in a way that is not normally on offer in schools.

The schools programme was fully booked and was attended by over 1500 children across 54 classes, from 18 schools: 14 primary and 4 secondary. Children had the opportunity to work with 29 different artists, comprising of 9 authors, 5 dancers from 2 dance companies, 3 visual artists, 4 musicians, 3 poets, 5 actors and 1 storyteller.

Feedback from both children and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive about every aspect of the event - 100% of respondents replied ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ for:

  • the quality of the author talk
  • the quality of the workshop
  • the site
  • event organisation

Many teachers identified ideas to take back to the classroom and commented on the pupils’ strong engagement with workshop leaders and appreciated the site as a learning environment which was exciting, fun and inspiring.

Ellen Bianchini, the Festival Director, said: “The Big Malarkey is great fun but it also has some very serious messages in the background – it reinforces a culture of good literacy, curious minds, positive attitudes to learning – and lights the fuse of children’s imagination."

Award: £42,000