The magic of a child’s imagination

Selkie and Mermaid stories with Nicola Davies

Southbank Centre’s annual multi-arts Imagine Children’s Festival returns for its seventeenth year from 7th till 18th February 2018. It’s the perfect opportunity to set your creativity loose, with twelve days of storytelling, playing and exploring for children and their families. At its heart, this year’s programme features a specially curated Royal Festival Hall event celebrating the world’s leaders and pioneers who have changed the world, to inspire the next generation of young changemakers.

The line up of activities include Super Hero parties, magical immersive adventures and snail friendships (particularly intrigued by this!) to dancing scientists with flatulence. Elsewhere, Nicola Davies will be sharing Selkie and Mermaid stories (see the beautiful artwork above), and award-winning author Jacqueline Wilson will discuss her much-loved characters including Hetty Feather and Tracy Beaker, as well as her latest novel Wave Me Goodbye.

An Afternoon with Jacqueline Wilson Credit James Jordan

An Afternoon with Jacqueline Wilson © James Jordan

Over half of the events are free, making it as inclusive as possible, with the likes of Caroline Bowditch, CBBC’s Ben Shires & Cerrie Burnell, Charlotte Cotterill, Radio 1’s Chris Smith & Greg James, Francesca Simon, Harry Hill, Jacqueline Wilson, James Campbell, Jess Thom, Joseph Coelho, Mitch Johnson, Patrick Monahan, Robin Stevens, Yuval Zommer all counted among the folks hoping to rev up kids’ imaginations.

Find out more and book tickets at the Southbank Centre website or call 0203 879 9555.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(at)icloud(dot)com.

London Literature Festival 2017

Philip Pullman photographed by Michael Leckie

Philip Pullman © Michael Leckie

This year’s London Literature Festival hosted by the South Bank Centre asks, how literature is being shaped by contemporary life?

The festival takes place from 13th October until 1st November 2017 and is crammed with enticing options.

Meet YA authors and take part in practical writing workshops at the Young Adult Literature weekender. Experience poetry, film and spoken word at the Poetry International founded by Ted Hughes at Southbank Centre in 1967. Listen to author Naomi Klein discuss Donald Trump, neoliberalism and her latest book ‘No is Not Enough.’ Meet the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist. And, tantalisingly, discover why and how Philip Pullman has returned to the realm of His Dark Materials and his character Lyra In the exclusive London launch of the highly anticipated La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One.

In short, have your imagination thoroughly stirred and your mind inspired.

Tom Hanks - 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc All Rights Reserved Austin Hargrave

Tom Hanks © Austin Hargrave

You’ll also have the chance to see Tom Hanks at the Royal Festival Hall discussing and reading from his first short story collection on Wednesday 1 November 2017. Uncommon Type explores the human condition and all its foibles, with each story connected by the recurring motif of a typewriter.

For the full programme, visit

All images supplied by the South Bank Centre.

Spring literary leaps at Southbank Centre

Neil Gaiman. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Author and fabulist Neil Gaiman. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Norse myths have been a source of inspiration for author and fabulist (how’s that for a job title) Neil Gaiman throughout his literary career. Discussing this influence and his latest book Norse Mythology (due out today – 7th February 2017), Neil Gaiman is part of Southbank Centre’s Spring Literature programme and year-long exploration of Nordic culture Nordic Matters.

On 15th February you can learn how Gaiman brings Norse gods to life through his inimitable fiction, where fantasy meets fairytale, fable, nightmare and happy endings in equal measure.

Other events to look out for include the Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival returns to Royal Festival Hall from 9th-19th February (speakers and storytellers include Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, Michael Morpurgo, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, and Icelandic author Þórarinn Eldjárn), and Southbank Centre’s new year-long Belief and Beyond Belief festival, which examines belief, faith and spirituality as well as what it means to be human in the 21st century. So, plenty to inspire, intrigue and get your mind ticking!

To find out more and book, visit Southbank Centre’s website or call the box office on 020 7960 4200