Join us for the next Festival: January 15-26, 2025


Popular citywide festival to return with new slate of top puppet shows from Chicago, the U.S. and around the world, presented at Chicago’s top cultural institutions large and small

Save these dates, puppet fans! The biannual Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, in the wake of its runaway success in its inaugural outing in 2015, will return to the Windy City for its second outing boasting even more international puppet acts and artists, January 19-29, 2017.

Chicago residents and visitors can look forward to an even larger, more diverse international pageant of top puppets and puppet artists from Chicago, the U.S. and around the world, all descending on the city to celebrate the full breadth of the art of contemporary puppetry, and for ten days in January, to make Chicago the puppetry capital of the world.

The inaugural festival was established in 2015 by Chicago master puppeteer Blair Thomas to celebrate and cultivate Chicago’s growing reputation as a leader in the renaissance of the art of puppetry. The second Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival will showcase an entertaining, eclectic and eye-popping array of puppet styles from around the world. Marionettes, shadow puppets, Bunraku, tiny toy puppets, animated objects and other emerging forms of puppetry will all be on full display at Chicago’s top cultural institutions, large and small, all over the city.

The 2017 coalition of Puppet Festival presenting partners, each participating in next year’s festival by presenting local, national and international puppet artists and companies that sync up with their own programming, include (at press time) Adventure Stage Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, Beverly Arts Center, the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College, Chicago Children’s Theatre, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The House Theatre of Chicago, the League of Chicago Theatres, Links Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Neo-Futurists, the University of Chicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and the University of Chicago’s Richard and Mary L. Grey Center for Arts and Inquiry.

“Thanks to our original coalition of presenting partners who helped put the inaugural Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival on the map. We look forward to building an even more amazing festival in 2017, deepening our collaborations with Chicago cultural institutions ranging from the Art Institute of Chicago to Links Hall, and continuing to redefine people’s perceptions about contemporary puppetry,” said Blair Thomas, Artistic Director, Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

In addition to public performances, visiting artists from around the globe will lead free, hands-on workshops, panel discussions, family drop-in events, late night Puppet Slams and special presentations on the history and craft of puppetry.

To underscore Chicago’s growing reputation as an internationally known center for puppetry arts, the festival also will host a concurrent scholarly conference for international artists and scholars devoted to advancing scholarship and research in the field of puppetry. New this year is the “Catapult Fellowship Program,” a special initiative catering to visiting artists and presenters to come to Chicago and enjoy a curated, four-day experience including performances, workshops, meals and special events.

Stay tuned until this summer, when the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theatre Festival line-up of local and visiting puppet artists and companies will be announced. In the meantime, for information and updates bookmark to stay abreast of puppet news and events in Chicago, track the official festival hashtag, #ChiPuppetFest, like the festival on Facebook, or follow the festival on Twitter at @ChiPuppetFest or on Instagram.

The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is supported in part by the Alphawood Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Jentes Family Foundation, Reva and David Logan Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, National Performance Network and the Pritzker-Pucker Family Foundation.

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