Stage Door News

Stratford: SpringWorks PuppetWorks’ World in a Weekend Festival returns August 3-6

Friday, July 7, 2023

Thanks to new and continuing partnerships with local, national and international organizations, businesses, musicians and puppeteers, the World in a Weekend International Puppet and Music Festival is returning to Stratford for its second summer with more to see and do.

Launched last year by Stratford Summer Music and SpringWorks PuppetWorks!, this year’s World in Weekend Festival will animate Stratford with stilt-walking creatures, free outdoor music barge concerts on the banks of the Avon River and performances by world-class puppet artists and musicians from Aug. 3 to Aug. 6.

“We’re really excited about the second iteration of our very delightful partnership (with Stratford Summer Music),” said SpringWorks artistic producer Eileen Smith. “This year, we’re actually creating and hosting an international puppet and music festival, and it’s super cool because we have lots of partners and venues and co-hosts and sponsors that really make these things happen.”

Kendra Fry, the general manager of Stratford Summer Music, said she was also “thrilled” that World in a Weekend was returning for a second summer.

“It’s such an opportunity for music enthusiasts of all ages to see world-class artists all over Stratford. We’re really looking forward to the folk and Celtic influences of Allison Lupton Band at the (Stratford-Perth) Museum and the Argentinian tango at Factory 163, plus kids concerts and barges for free at Veteran’s Park Drive. World in a Weekend is really a love letter to creativity; the creativity of our artists and of the audience themselves,” she said.

The festival features many free or inexpensive activities for families, including hands-on play zones for kids and puppet shows featuring artists from as far flung as Quebec, Hungary and Mexico, where attendees can pick how much they pay for admission to ensure the performances are accessible to all.

The weekend’s puppet shows include puppeteer Sarah Nolen’s Judy Saves the Day; two object-puppet shows, Antonia Leney-Granger’s A Brief History of Time and Olivier Ducas’ Zen; Hungarian puppeteer Bence Sarkadi’s free-and-interactive long-string marionette demonstrations, The Budapest Marionettes; and Mexico’s Animalarium.

“We are bringing in a really beautiful company from Mexico that’s doing a set of things called Animalarium,” Smith said of the free puppet shows along Veterans Drive Aug. 5 and 6. “They’re these beautiful puppets that have music in their bellies. It’s a chicken and a deer and a rabbit, and they have a music thing and they come together and interact with people.

“Their operators are sort of steam punk and the puppet artist is delightful. … They’re coming from Mexico with this young company of artists doing their summer tours. We at SpringWorks have partnered with a couple of other puppet festivals in Canada to bring them here, so this is a first for that as well.”

Live music is also a core feature of the festival, which boasts an eclectic program of free and ticketed events. These range from exploring the musical journey of cacao with Montreal’s Ensemble Caprice and Rheo Thompson Candies to a celebration of Argentinian and Uruguayan tango and folk music, as well as Latin dance, with Toronto chamber music ensemble Payadora Tango.

“We’re doing some integrated programming, so the opening night of this whole weekend is Payadora Tango. … They’re playing some amazing music, and then we decided we just needed to have a Latin dance party after because, for many who listen to Latin music, you have to dance,” Smith said of the opening night event at Factory 163. “You do get to enjoy the concert first for those who are not inclined to dance. Then, those who are, can come to the concert and stay after. We’ve brought in a set of people to do some demonstrations of Latin dance and a basic Salsa class.”

Other live concerts include Stratford Summer Music Jazz All Stars at Revival House Aug. 4, Andrew Craig’s (Rhapsodius) The Sound of Freedom at Veteran’s Drive Park Aug. 6, and a performance by world-renowned pianist Marika Bournaki and cellist Julian Schwarz at The Avondale Aug. 6.

For more information and to see a full schedule of activities, events and shows visit

By Galen Simmons for