IN the short time since it arrived to test the waters in 2008, Juice Festival has become somewhat of a bells and whistles safety net for parents all over Newcastle and Gateshead.
Traditionally, as half-term holiday approaches, you’ll notice a general twitchiness among people with kids as they prepare to be at the sharp end of the paradoxical boredom which goes hand in hand with the joy of being off school.
Unless, of course, the aforementioned parents and carers happen to have a Juice Festival programme in their back pocket.
Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, the award-winning festival promises something to inspire and provoke a smile.
And the 2012 event, with its dragon-themed 10-day programme of performance, music, art and Halloween fun across Tyneside , does much to continue its reputation.
Rachel Adam, director of Juice, says: “What makes this festival so special is that it has children and young people at its heart. Young people are involved as creative artists, event managers and volunteers, working alongside national and international artists.
“Newcastle Gateshead has a network of world class cultural venues who work in partnership to help deliver the festival and ensure the destination as a whole has a warm family friendly welcome during autumn half-term.”
Today, the website has gone live. Here are some of the things we’re particularly excited about:
Dragon Steps: throughout Newcastle, October 26 to November 4
LOOK out for Dragon Steps in six Juice Festival venues this autumn. A do-it-yourself theatre puzzle for all the family. Youngsters are encouraged to jump in, follow the footsteps and figure out the story.
Art Jam: October 27, The Sage Gateshead. Free
SOME of the top names in the UK street art scene will be on hand to help young artists make their mark on Newcastle Gateshead’s 320ft legal art wall. Tucked behind The Sage Gateshead, this year's Art Jam event will include clothing customisation workshops as well as sketchbook workshops for budding illustrators.
Little Universe: November 1 and 2, Saltwell Park, Gateshead. Free
FEVERED Sleep present this new outdoor performance for three to five-year-olds. From the biggest of galaxies to the smallest things in the world, Little Universe will reveal the patterns and movements which set everything in motion. A professional artist will help children create their own ‘little universe’ to take home.
I’m Just Saying: October 26-28, Live Theatre, Newcastle, 0191 232 1232
VAMPIRE fantasies, dealing with parental pressure over careers, and not knowing if your Facebook friends are who they claim to be, are just some of the subjects explored in six short plays written by young people and performed by professional actors and members of Live’s Youth Theatre.
Sparkle: October 29-30, Caedmon Hall, Gateshead, pre-booking essential
DEVELOPED by puppeteer Alison McGowan and visual artist Tanya Axford, Sparkle offers a gentle and imaginative approach to exploring materials with babies and young children
Halloween ‘After Hours’ (ticketed): October 31, The Discovery Museum; and Pumpkin Carving, October 29-31, Baltic, Gateshead. Free
THE arrival of Halloween will be celebrated with after hours spooky trails around the Discovery Museum and craft activities. Meanwhile, Baltic's popular pumpkin carving workshops continue with a thousand pumpkins ready to be carved for in time for Halloween. A themed multi-sensory room for children with disabilities will also be available.
The Big Juice Read: The Pirate’s Eye, Newcastle Library, October 27, 2-4pm. Free, but ticketed.
THOSE who are seven and above are invited to join Blue Peter Award-winning author Guy Bass for a string of interactive events including readings from the Stitch Head trilogy, before visiting Mad Professor Erasmus in Castle Grotteskew to make their own fantastical creature. Fancy dress encouraged.
Young Tyneside Cinema: Juiced! October 29 to November 2, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle, www.tynesidecinema.co.uk
A PROGRAMME of family films chosen by the Young Tyneside programmers will be on offer with post-screening extras like face painting and fancy dress competition thrown in too. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Adults will only be admitted to screenings when accompanying children.
Juice Festival Finale, The Dragons Parade: November 4, Baltic Square, Gateshead
AFTER the Juice Festival dragon eggs have hatched, families are invited to join in the search for the mythical dragon babies and bring them back home. Fancy dress is a must for the Juice Festival Dragon Parade, created by Unfolding Theatre.
:: LAST, but by no means least, as regular readers of our monthly Culture magazine will be well aware, Juice generates a team of young writers eager to make their mark on the October issue. This year is no different and members of the Juice Press Gang will be offering their own introduction to Juice in the magazine which is published free with The Journal on September 25.
For more information and a full programme of events and activities, visit: www.juicefestival.co.uk