Punch, Judy and friends set to return to Bognor Regis as date for town 'Puppet Party' set

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Hot on the heels of last year’s highly successful Punch and Judy festival, organisers at the Bognor Regis Heritage Partnership have announced a town Puppet Party.

Set to take place on September 28 and 29 at The Royal Norfolk Hotel and Gardens, the event promises an even bigger, more comprehensive celebration of puppetry than last year’s show, featuring stand out acts from a range of genres.

Among them is Max Fulham, a ventriloquist has been working with puppets since his teens, and a brings fresh, contemporary take to puppetry traditions that’s struck a chord with a variety of audiences. With several thousand followers on social media, he’s brought his one man show all over the world, and even appeared on ITV’s Saturday night show Game of Talents.

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Max is one of several exciting acts set to play this year’s festival, and organiser Ken Blamires says he embodies the scope and scale of this year’s event, which looks ahead to the art form’s future, while doffing its cap to the past: “We want to move things forward and embrace more forms of puppetry, alongside just Punch and Judy. So there will be more marionette string puppet performances, we’ll have performances of something called Living Marionettes, which is actually a very traditional style. We really think it’s going to be bigger and better this year.”

Last year's event was a resounding success.Last year's event was a resounding success.
Last year's event was a resounding success.

Last year’s Punch and Judy Festival, which also took place at the Royal Norfolk Hotel and Gardens, was supposed to be a one-off celebration of the sixty year anniversary of Tony Hancock’s The Punch and Judy Man – a cult classic comedy filmed in Bognor Regis. But Mr Blamires said the feedback from last year’s event was so good he had no choice but to revive the format for a second go round.

“The reaction last year was so good, and all the puppeteers enjoyed the weekend so much so we thought we’d bring it back. But you can’t celebrate a sixtieth anniversary twice, so it became the Bognor Regis Puppet Party.

“It’s a great form of traditional family entertainment. During Covid, the 2-5 year olds probably didn’t get to experience live performances, so it’s great for them, and the feedback we got from parents and grandparents was clear: ‘bring it back’. So that’s what we’re doing.”

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