It’s ok if you haven’t heard of the LA Puppet Festival; after all, last year was the inaugural event.  But this year there’s no excuse not to know, and not to go – so use this handy guide to the best events as a template for family fun for the first two weeks in April.

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Your love of puppets probably started about 30 years ago with Cookie Monster (or Ernie, Big Bird, Oscar –no judging here based on your favorite!).  Your child’s obsession began in infancy with Elmo.  And from there you were both hooked, but puppet love isn’t something we get to indulge very often.  Enter the LA Puppet Festival – a great time for the whole family to play with felted, feathered, furry, funny friends.  And as an added bonus, you’ll meet the puppets that live in our neighborhood… the ones you can visit when the puppet festival packs up for another year.

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Highlights for Little People
With over 25 events all over the city, some for the whole family, and some perfect for a silly date night, you’ll be sure to find something perfect for your crew.  Meet the masters from Puppet School, LA Guild of Puppetry, Little Stage Puppet Theater, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Rogue Artists, Sock Puppet Theater and more – there’s a lot to see.  Here are the festival highlights for young puppeteers:

*Wednesday, April 2 – Awesome Puppet Films & Filmmakers: An evening of short films at Barnsdall Park.

*Thursday, April 3 – “Fun with Strings”: A show at the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre.

*Saturday, April 5 – Sweet! Puppetry: A day of puppetry and fun and candy making.

*Saturday, April 5 – Masters of Puppetry Live!: Three masters and their apprentices will entertain you and your family with their puppets.

*Sunday, April 6 – LA Puppet Festival Parade (Editors pick: see details below.)

*Monday & Tuesday, April 7 & 8 – Bob Baker Marionettes Exhibition: See the “Art of Bob Baker” through a display of drawings, photographs and intricate marionettes.

*Friday, April 11 – Tales of Longing and Belonging: Shadow puppets, toy theater, a giant puppet or two, and storytelling combine with live music bring stories to life.

*Sunday, April 13-  Skirball Puppet Festival (Editors pick: see details below.)

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Spotlight On The Best of Fest: Our Top Two Picks

LA Puppet Festival Parade
No puppet, no problem – the day starts with a Puppet Making Workshop by Rogue Artists Ensemble and Sock Puppet Theater.  Then take part in the largest puppet parade in LA.  At the end of the parade route there will be a closing ceremony, raffle drawings for prizes and a puppet dance off. Bring or make hand puppets, finger puppets, marionettes, monsters, shadow puppets, multi-person puppets – or just come and watch.

3rd Street Promenade
Parade starts just south of Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
Sunday, April 6 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
This event is free and appropriate for all ages.
Online: lapuppetfest.com

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Puppet Festival at the Skirball
Join the Skirball for a fabulous all-day celebration of the art of puppetry, featuring interactive puppet performances, shadow puppetry, live music, art making, spectacular strolling puppets, an interactive display from the Los Angles Guild of Puppetry, and more.  This day of imaginative storytelling and innovation from some of Southern California’s most talented puppeteers and artists is amazing and delightful for all ages.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 Sepulveda Blvd., West LA
Sunday, April 13 from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
This event is appropriate for all ages.
$10 adults, $5 kids 2-12, free to Skirball Members and kids under 2
Online: skirball.org/programs/puppet-festival

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Elmo?  Oscar?  The Count?  Miss Piggy?  Fess up – who is your favorite puppet or muppet of all time?

Photo credit: All images (except the Million Puppet March) are courtesy of Skirball Cultural Center, photos by Peter Turman.