The Kids Euro Festival is a 4-week annual event that begins in mid-October. Designed for children aged two through twelve, the festival is organized by the French-American Cultural Institution in collaboration with 16 major local cultural institutions and 27 European Union embassies in Washington including the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The Kids Euro Festival presents more than 200 free events in and around the District at various venues including theaters, museums, embassies, and public libraries. Talented European entertainers for children converge on Washington providing everything from plays, puppet shows, cultural dance exhibitions, music, storytelling, magic, cinema, and workshops featuring stories and activities.
Many events occur on several days at separate venues enabling families to select the venue that is most convenient to them. There are special event days at La Maison Francaise, House of Sweden, and the Washington Performing Arts Society in which the entire day is filled with films, performances, and special workshops. An event day is also planned for families with special needs children at La Maison Francaise.
New this year is the Kids Euro Festival Junior Ambassador Passport. At select venues, children can have a passport card stamped. After collecting three stamps, the child submits the passport and a one-paragraph story about why he or she liked the festival. Children receive a medal and are entered in a drawing to win other prizes.
The Kids Euro Festival website provides a complete schedule in a concise table format indicating the name of the event, country, venue, type of event, date, time, suggested age range, and whether or not a reservation is required. Not all events require reservations and some events are only available for school groups. Most of the events occur over the weekend. The website also contains detailed information about the venues including Metro and driving directions, parking information and a map.
For those events that require reservations, once you click “reservation”, you are re-directed to Eventbrite, an online events and ticketing service. Eventbrite is easy to use and sends reminder emails a couple days before the event. You need to print out tickets to attend the event(s) reserved. The website also contains descriptions of events, pictures, and sometimes a small video with an excerpt of the performance.
Towards the end of September, I started looking at the Kids Euro Festival website and found a mishmash of 2011 and 2012 information. I monitored the website on a daily basis for a two-week period before being able to reserve tickets, and even then I doubted there was a complete list of events on either the Kids Euro Festival website or Eventbrite. Eventually, both websites were updated with complete information. With the vast amount of events, it was difficult to narrow down what we wanted to see and could possibly fit into our schedule.
I took my almost-5-year-old and almost-7-year-old to see “Max-The Play about the Ball, the Car and the Lamp” at the Mansion at Strathmore. They enjoyed watching the 40-minute play conducted by an engaging theater troupe from Sweden. Max was a character from the award winning Swedish children’s author Barbro Lindgren. The troupe from Sweden was interactive and clearly happy to be entertaining children. Parking was easy. Strathmore had security to ensure that the Mansion parking was accessed only by Kids Euro Festival patrons. Check-in was simple. Seating was predominately on floor cushions with some chairs set-up towards the back.
With the variety of activities, do not be surprised if you have trouble deciding what events to attend.
Good to Know
- Start looking at the Kids Euro Festival website in early October for event registration information.
- Reserve tickets early. Most events fill-up.
- These events take place at a variety of venues that might not ordinarily host plays. Be prepared for a variety of seating arrangements, including sitting on the ground.
- Parking situations are different at every venue. Visit the website for directions, parking, and Metro accessibility.