Puppets Up International Festival

Please note: It was announced in 2017 that due to budgeting issues resulting from low ticket sales, the Puppets Up Festival is regretfully no longer being offered.
Every year since 2005 a puppetry festival has been held in Almonte Ontario during the second weekend in August. I attend the festival each year and look forward to it every time. For me the Puppets Up International Festival is by far the highlight of the summer. Who needs an expensive vacation to Italy or France to see the some of the best puppeteers in the world when you can just go to Almonte!

The official Puppets Up festival logo

The Puppets Up International Festival is a weekend-long festival that boasts some 10 performers or companies per year, offering 20 or more shows each day. Performances are presented in large tents or indoor venues, and all of these shows are accessible with a one-day pass, or a weekend pass, which is an excellent value. Basically, for the average ticket price of one show at any Ottawa area festival (take your pick!), you get to see as many shows as you can at the Puppets Up Festival.

Here is the official Puppets Up! website: http://puppetsup.ca/

Here is the Wikipedia page about Almonte, ON: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almonte,_Ontario

Here is puppeteer David Smith performing some street entertainment for the crowd at the Puppets Up International Festival in 2007. David and his wife Muriel were also featured performers in 2009 with their show "Little Red Riding Hood: A Melodrama."

I'd also like to point out that just because this is a puppetry festival, it does not mean that you need to bring kids with you to attend. The festival is suitable for families, teens and adults. Some of the shows are geared to younger audiences, but the majority of them are suitable for all ages. So if you like live theater you'll certainly have a good time.

 This is Crabgrass Puppet Theater from Vermont. In 2007 they presented "Anansi, Spiderman of Africa." Shown here are puppeteers Bonny Hall and Jamie Keithline with some of the characters from the story.

Also in 2007 Waterwood Theater performed O is for Ogre. Shown above is puppeteer Dan Wood and the Ogre from his show. The company also performed "Tales from an Empty Fridge" for the inaugural festival in 2005, as well as "Mouse Tales" in 2006. Waterwood Theater is the puppet company that created the original Dudley the Dragon puppet costume, which Dan performed in the live show "Conserving Kingdom" in schools across Ontario in the 1980's. The Dudley the Dragon costume that was later used for the TV production based on the live show is now in the collection at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. This was before the character had his own regular TV program, "The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon". Dan was kind enough to give me an original "Conserving Kingdom" poster and a button with Dudley's image. I also have the original "Conserving Kingdom" comic book that was given out to students at the live shows, as I was one of those students! I've been a fan of Dudley ever since! 

I enjoy the atmosphere in Almonte that is created for the festival, which is very much a big street party celebrating puppetry. This includes many free events for visitors such as wandering street performers, live music, the "Balcony Puppeteers", and a puppet display in virtually every storefront window. In addition there is a vendors area where artisans sell hand-made puppets and a craft tent for kids to make their own craft puppet. There are also many interesting stores on Mill Street to browse through if you are in a wandering mood, along with local restaurants and Baker Bob's!

Baker Bob and his puppet likeness, made by Noreen Young

Puppeteer Jamie Douglas is one of the Puppets Up Festival's "Balcony Puppeteers". I'm not sure what year this photo is from, possibly 2006 or 2007. He's holding one of Noreen Young's mice puppets. Jamie is a very funny puppeteer. You may also know him as Creepy Baby from You Tube. Here's one of his videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yst2UTcvC1k

One of the of "celebrities" at the festival is Creepy Baby.

And if that's not enough, they also have a parade each day at about 2:30 starring all of the featured performers and their puppets, as well as local puppeteers, musicians, and costumed characters. Not only that, but if you grew up watching the CBC and Disney Channel program "Under the Umbrella Tree", keep an eye out for Iggy, Gloria and Jacob as they like to hang out at the Puppets Up festival too...especially in the parade! So there's plenty to see and do even if you don't go to watch any of the puppet shows (which would be a shame!).

Here's three of my favourite people with three of my favourite puppets: Noreen Young, Bob Stutt and Stephen Brathwaite with their puppet alter egos Gloria Gopher, Iggy Iguana, and Jacob Blue Jay. They're all from the TV show "Under the Umbrella Tree".

Ben Durocher and Steffi DiDomenicantonio doing some street entertainment at the inaugural festival in 2005. The following year they returned as featured performers with their show "Johnny's Midnight Adventure".

Here is puppet designer Steven Barkley, founder of Diabolo Puppets, at the festival in 2009. Steven has been a vendor at The Puppets Up festival from the very start (at least it certainly seems that way!). He makes awesome puppets that are very popular. I have about a dozen or more of them in my collection! If you come to Puppets Up be certain to stop by his booth in the vendor's area!

Puppeteer Grant Harding doing some street entertainment at the festival in 2005.

Below is a list of the featured performing companies or artists for each year along with some photos. I hope you enjoy looking through these, and that they convince you to come out to the festival. It's a lot of fun!

Aug 6 & 7, 2005, the inaugural year!

Here is a bookmark that was used to promote the festival in 2005. A new bookmark and poster are produced each year.

Puppeteers Noah Kenneally (left) and Mark Keetch in 2005

Full Circle Puppets (with puppeteer Bob Stutt) (Pembroke) presents Punch and Judy
Rag and Bone Puppet Theater (with puppeteers Kathy MacLellan and John Nolan) (Orleans) presents The Nightingale by Hans Christian Anderson and A Promise is a Promise by Robert Munch and Michael Kusugak.
Cardboard Heart Imagination Laboratories (with puppeteers Mark Keetch and  Noah Kenneally) (Toronto) presents Auspices and Auguries
Zagadka Zoological Society (with puppeteers Mark Keetch and Noah Kenneally) (Toronto) presents Our Time
Safari Jeff and Shannon (with Nick Bellemore as Dr. Evergreen) (Calgary) present The Green Mean Adventure Show
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Maine) presents Everybody Loves Pirates
Crabgrass Puppet Theater (Vermont) presents The Bremen Town Musicians
Puppetmongers Theatre (with puppeteers Ann Powell and David Powell)  (Toronto) presents Foolish Tales for Foolish Times
Waterwood Theater (with puppeteer Dan Wood) (Toronto) presents Tales from an Empty Fridge
Pegaron Puppetry (with puppeteers Peggy Artelle and Sharon Wueppelmann) (Manotick) presents Shadow Fun with Pegaron Puppetry
Me and My Shadows (Toronto) presents Balinese/Javanese shadow puppets.

Here is Rag and Bone Puppet Theater's Emperor puppet from "The Nightingale", performed at the festival in 2005. The company also performed  "A Promise is a Promise" the same year.

Aug 12 & 13, 2006, year 2

Puppetmongers Theater: Brick Brothers Circus

Artelle Puppets - billed as Artellephant Productions (with puppeteers Mike Artelle and Peggy Artelle) (Ottawa) presents Heroes Past and Present
Waterwood Productions (with puppeteer Dan Wood) (Toronto) presents Mouse Tales
Paddling Puppeteer (Peterborough) presents Honest Frankie's Shoreline Review
Foreign Landscapes (with puppeteers from Brazil, Canada, and France) presents By the Willow
Ben Durocher and Steffi DiDomenicantonio (Ottawa) presents Johnny's Midnight Adventure
Tante Caroline (with puppeteers Diane Bouchard, Stephen Brathwaite, and Vicki Veenstra) (Appleton) presents The Eye of the Storm
Julie Goell (Maine) presents Opening Night Carmen
Teatro Titeres Cucaramacara (Costa Rica) presents Tres Picaros de Fibula - 3 Short Stories
Puppetmongers Theater (with puppeteers Ann Powell and David Powell) (Toronto) presents Brick Brothers Circus
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Maine) presents The Legend of the Banana Kid
Crabgrass Puppet Theater (Vermont) presents Jabberwocky

Here I am on the right with my mother Peggy Artelle just before performing our show Heroes Past and Present at the festival in 2006. We're holding up our Athena and Perseus puppets. Gloria Gopher and Iggy the Iguana themselves (performed by Noreen Young and Bob Stutt) introduced our show. That was awesome!

Aug 11 & 12, 2007, year 3

Professor Richard Coombs: Punch and Judy Show (Staffordsire, England)

Join Hands Puppeteers (with puppeteer Matthew Romain) (Windsor) presents Captain Matt's Treasure Hunt
Professor Richard Coombs (Staffordsire, England) presents Punch and Judy Show
Maritime Marionettes (Nova Scotia) presents The Lonely Leprechaun
Zip-E and Drouille (Quebec) presents The Adventures of Zip-E and Drouille
Crabgrass Puppet Theater (Vermont) presents Anansi, Spiderman of Africa
Nappy's Puppets (Connecticut) presents Father Goose Tales
Rag and Bone Puppet Theater (with puppeteers Kathy MacLellan and John Nolan) (Orleans) presents Zoom at Sea
Waterwood Theater Projects (with puppeteer Dan Wood) (Toronto) presents O is for Ogre
Docela Velke Divadlo (Czech Republic) presents Carmen
Tim Holland (Peterborough) presents Foolesque

Aug 9 & 10, 2008, year 4

In 2007 puppeteer Tim Holland presented Foolesque, (shown above)
and returned in 2008 with The Puppet Tamer.

Nappy's Puppets (Connecticut) presents Jack and the Beanstalk
Le Theatre Motus (Lonqueuil) presents Bellybutton
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Maine) presents Everybody Loves Pirates
Bence Sarki (Hungary) presents Figura Ex Machina
Barefoot Puppet Theater (Virginia) presents Galapagos George
Applefun Puppetry (with puppeteer Mike Harding) (Brampton) presents Robin Hood and the Dragon
Join Hands Puppeteers (with puppeteer Matthew Romain) (Windsor) presents Captain Matt's Treasure Hunt
Gente de Teatro de Titeres Y Actores (Mexico) presents Tres Apapachois y una Historia
Tante Caroline (Almonte) presents Des Ailes et des Racines
Tim Holland (Peterborough) presents The Puppet Tamer
Le Théâtre des Petites Âmes (Montréal) presents Pekka

Aug 8 & 9, 2009, year 5

Join Hands Puppeteers: Colonel W.D. Quackhorn's Extraordinary Traveling Medicine Show

All Hands Productions (Georgia) presents Jack and the Beanstalk
Coad Canada Puppets (with puppeteer Luman Coad) (Vancouver) presents The Box? A Show of Feelings
David Smith Marionettes (with David and Muriel Smith) (Kingston) presents Little Red Riding Hood: A Melodrama
Figura (with puppeteer Bernd Ogrodnik) (Iceland) presents Metamorphosis
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Maine) presents The Legend of the Banana Kid
Hand to Mouth Theater (England) presents Piggry Jokery
Join Hands Puppeteers (with puppeteer Matthew Romain)  (Windsor) presents Colonel W.D. Quackhorn's Extraordinary Traveling Medicine Show
Le Théâtre des Petites Âmes (Montréal) presents Hima
Purple Dragon Puppet Troupe (Kingston) presents Many Moons
Invisible Inc. (with puppeteer Frank Meschkuleit) (Mississauga) presents Playdate
The Almonte Kids Puppet Project presents The Adventures of Read & Squirmy

Aug 7 & 8, 2010, year 6

This is the poster for the sixth year of the festival. 
I think is the nicest one out of all of the festival's annual posters.
Taiyuan Puppet Theater (Taipei, Taiwan) presents A Sea of Puppets
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Maine) presents The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Viktor Antonov (St. Petersburg, Russia) presents Circus on Strings
Tanglewood Marionettes (Maine) presents The Dragon King
Jacob Berkowitz (Almonte) presents The Lost Alien
Foreign Landscapes with Exit 4 Theater (Massachusetts) presents Star Sisters
Clownz (with Adam Zimmerman and Karine Roberge) (Brownsbury-Chatham, Quebec) presents Zircus Clownz
Lawrence Smythe (Montreal, Quebec) presents Mini All-Star Comedy Show
Le Théâtre de Deux Mains (Montreal, Quebec) presents Little John in the Realm of Fancy Ti-Jean au royaume des Fla-flas
Rag and Bone Puppet Theater (with puppeteers Kathy MacLellan and John Nolan) (Orleans) presents The Wind in the Willows

Adam Zimmerman as Zip-e the Clown in 2005. Adam has performed as a street entertainer at almost every Puppets Up festival. In 2010 Adam and fellow clown Karine Roberge were featured performers with their show Zircus Clownz. Many years ago (before the first Puppets Up festival) I saw Adam's puppet play based on Alice in Wonderland at Ottawa University. He's very talented at both clowning and puppetry.
Aug 6 & 7, 2011, year 7

Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers from Maine USA have been featured performers almost every year of the festival. Their show Everybody Loves Pirates is a festival favourite, and extremely funny!

Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Maine) presents Everybody Loves Pirates
Kids Power Project (Almonte) presents The Legend of Timsville
Le Montreur (France) presents La Leçon du Montreur
Puppets to Go (Florida) presents The Frog Prince
Aboriginal Experiences (Ottawa) presents Nanabush and the Ducks
Frank Meschkuleit (Ontario) presents Toopy and Binoo...Live!
Tenon Mortaise (Montreal) presents The Punch and Judy Show
Robert Rogers Puppet Company (New York) presents The Bugtown Follies
The Manipulators (with puppeteers Trish Leeper and Allan Martin) presents Rovero and Juliet
The Paddling Puppeteers (Peterborough) presents Honest Frankie's Shoreline Review / A Walk in the Neighbourwoods
Tanglewood Marionettes (Maine) presents Perseus and Medusa

Aug 11 & 12, 2012, year 8

Gestes Theatre (with puppeteer Diane Bouchard) (Gatineau) presents Dragon Glouton (The Gluttonous Dragon)
Tanglewood Marionettes (Massachussetts) presents Cinderella
Mississippi Mils Productions (Almonte) presents Happy Birthday Jimmy!
Whispering Theatre (Montreal-Algiers) presents I was looking for garlic, I found pistachio
Zach Fraser Creations (Montreal & Nova Scotia) presents Adrift
Rock the Arts (Ottawa) presents Pirate Treasure
La cie pelele marionnettes (Toulouse, France) presents Tauromaquia (Bullfighting)
Panadream Theatre, (Montreal) presents The Giant Magician
Clunck Puppet Lab (Calgary) presents How I Became Invisible
Tim Holland (Cambridge) presents The Puppet Tamer

Aug 10 & 11, 2013, year 9

Here I am with a giant snake puppet in the Puppets Up Festival
 parade in 2013. Some volunteers were operating the tail.

Bence Sarkadi Theater of Marionettes (Budapest, Hungary) presents The Budapest Marionettes
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Maine) presents The Legend of the Banana Kid
Mikropodium (Budapest, Hungary) presents Stop
MetaPhysical Theater (Toronto) presents Pierrot and the Moon
Health Tarlin Entertainment (Toronto) presents Spin Cycle
More of Everything (Montreal) presents The More of Everything Revival Hour
Peterson Puppets (Toronto) presents The Good Old-Fashioned Punch and Judy Show
Puppets To Go (Florida) presents Little Red Riding Hood
Tanglewood Marionettes (Massachusetts) presents The Dragon King
Le Théâtre des Petites Âmes (Montréal) presents BAM
Aug 2014, year 10

Here is Nick the mascot in the Puppets Up Parade celebrating the festival's tenth birthday!

Tim Holland (Peterborough) presents The Puppet Tamer
Rang and Bone Theatre (Orleans) presents The Light Princess
Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (USA) presents Leslie and Lolly make stuff up
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Bar Harbor, Maine USA) presents Everybody Loves Pirates
They Gotta be Secret Agents (Jamaica Plain, MA USA) presents Squirrel Stole My Underpants
Tanglewood Marionettes (Massachusetts, USA) presents An Arabian Adventure
Margrit Gysin (Switzerland) presents Daddy Bear Come Play with Me
Little Feet Theatre (Italy) presents Once Upon a Time... 2 Feet!
Majinx (Vankleek Hill, ON) presents Professor Wick's Incredible Magic Factory
Out of this World Puppetery / Freddie Rivas (Toronto, ON) presents When Pigs Fly... into Alien Spaceships!
Theatre Motus (Lonqueuil, QC) presents Elisapee and the Northern Lights
Kids On The Block (Ottawa, ON)

Aug 2015, year 11

Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers (Bar Harbor, Maine USA) presents The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Worlds of Puppets (Iceland) presents Peter and the Wolf
Matthew Romain (Windsor, ON) presents That's Laughtertainment
Pocket Carnival Productions (Toronto, ON) presents Buster Canfield and His Amazing Fleas
Toybox Theatre and Cripps Puppets (North Carolina, USA) presents Billy the LIAR
Joshua Holden (New York, USA) presents The Joshua Show
Rock the Arts (Carp, ON) presents Animal Adventure
WP Puppet Theatre (Calgary, Alberta) presents Pigs in a Canoe and other Watery Stories
Almonte and District High School Drama Club (Almonte, ON) presents Peter Pan
Little Spirit Bear Productions (Peterborough, ON) presents Nanaboozhoo and the Ducks and The Way
Tanglewood Marionettes (Massachusetts, USA) presents The Dragon King

Visit the Puppets Up International Festival Website for more up to date information:

Aug 2016, year 12, This was the final year of the festival.

I'll add the performance information here shortly!

This link will take you back to the Home Page of this blog:

Text and photos © Mike Artelle 2005, 2015
The information on this page is from Mike Artelle's puppetry archives and from the Puppets Up website.


  1. Hi Mike,
    I love your blog! I was looking for historical stuff on Puppets Up! and your site is amazing! Thank you!
    Donna Quince
    Festival Coordinator
    Puppets Up! 2014


    1. Awesome that you love the Umbrella Tree gang! Happy to report that they are all still alive! :)