It starts with A and it’s everywhere

11th-annual Surrey International Children's Festival inspires kids to find the artist within.

B.C. singer Music with Marnie (here with a mascot) is among the numerous live acts that will entertain kids at this year's Surrey International Children's Festival.

Organizers of the Surrey International Children’s Festival are hoping kids who attend this year’s event get their hands dirty – both literally and figuratively.

The theme of the 2015 festival is “Art is Everywhere,” and is meant to inspire and empower children of all ages to discover their inner artist, whether it be through creating something themselves, or watching others do their thing.

The City of Surrey celebration takes place both inside the Surrey Arts Centre and outside in Bear Creek Park May 21-23.

There are seven ticketed shows highlighting a diverse array of performers from around the world.

Featured this year is what’s billed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to experience a traditional puppet show by Vietnam’s Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre. The show features ancient music, dance, song and fire – all on water.

B.C. singers Music with Marnie and The Secret Life of Walter Manny will also take the stage, as will The Street Circus acrobats from Manitoba and an Icelandic puppet production of Peter and the Wolf. French-Canadian musicians Bon Débarras will keep toes tapping and Order of Canada recipient Dave Douchard shares his magical, musical storytelling.

While some shows are suitable for children as young as six months old, others are appropriate for children nine and up.

But there are plenty of other inexpensive or free things to do at the festival as well.

The outdoor Community Spirit Stage features ongoing, fee-free entertainment throughout the three-day event. Kids from Holly Elementary, for example, will display their taiko drumming and Bollywood dance, while Hippy Mike gives a skateboard demonstration and Mr. Fantastik wows with his acrobatics and African dance skills.

Access to the festival site is free and free art activities include an art card station, a giant sandbox, marimba playing, storytelling tent, chalk art and more.

Kids with wristbands ($10/$6) will be allowed to try their hand (and feet!) at the circus arts, with some plate spinning, juggling and stilt-walking, as well as play with clay, produce an animated short film or have their face painted.

There is also a free festival procession Saturday at 12:30 p.m., where Axé Capoeira will lead participants on a colourful parade that’ll wind its way through the park. Everyone is invited to bring a costume and join in.

For a full list of activities and information about how to purchase tickets, check or call 604-501-5598. To find out how to volunteer at the event, phone 604-598-5865.





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