Children's Fest lands on a LilyPad

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The 28th annual Pittsburgh International Children's Theater and Festival opened Wednesday in its new location at LilyPad Park: a pop-up green space in the Cultural District, Downtown.

There's an expanded frog theme for the festival, with three costumed frog mascots roaming the park and a frog scavenger hunt.

Other new activities include a pinball lounge, with at least five machines on free play for the festival, and a drop-in comic workshop through a partnership with the ToonSeum. There will also be an expanded Lego presence through the Steel City Lego Users Group, including a Lego Derby for kids to build and race Lego cars on a pinewood track and a display of different Pittsburgh landmarks constructed with Legos.

The giant sandbox in the pop-up LilyPad Park is a nod to one of the festival's theater productions, a Danish play called "Little Steps" that takes place in a sandbox, geared toward children ages 2-5.

"Invisi'BALL" is an Israeli production recommended for kids older than 4 but of particular interest to children with soccer experience. Other shows include "Animals" (recommended for age 3-8), featuring animals made from everyday objects coming to life; "Hands Up" (ages 5-10), showing a twist on finger puppets; "Midnight Radio Jr." (ages 6-12), a 1940s-style comedy and variety show; a "Pinocchio" production from Quebec (ages 5-10); and "Tales of Folklore and Fantasy" (ages 5 and older) featuring Temujin, a storyteller with West African roots.

Tickets to all shows are $8 for adults and children older than 2, with reduced prices available in festival packages for multiple shows. For full schedule and ticket purchases, go to

Returning to the festival for the third time this year is the popular Miracoco inflatable tent, bathed inside in brightly colored lights. Admission to the tent, which is fun for all ages, is $5. Other holdovers from previous years, such as face-painting and marbles, will be a part of this year's festival as well.

Visitors to the festival who buy tickets for shows in advance also have the option of buying a $10 parking pass for the Theater Square garage that is good all day -- even on weekdays.

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