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Photograph: Elina Giounanli
Photograph: Elina Giounanli

Little Amal the giant puppet’s final London itinerary has been announced

Here’s where you can see Good Chance Theatre’s ambitious new project

Rhian Daly
Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Rhian Daly
Andrzej Lukowski

UPDATE: Amal’s itinerary has now been finalised: see bottom of article for full schedule.

Little Amal, a 3.5-metre-tall puppet of a nine-year-old girl, is doing something most humans couldn’t manage after 18 months on the sofa: walking 8,000km from the Turkey-Syria border all the way to Manchester

The giant puppet is part of a new project from Britain’s Good Chance Theatre – which previously produced ‘The Jungle’ about the Calais refugee camp – that aims to bring attention to the urgent needs of young refugees and the arduous journeys they have to make in search of a better life. On her grand voyage, which began last month, Amal is calling at 70 towns and cities in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France before arriving in the UK. At each stop, she’s greeted by local festivals and celebrations. 

Little Amal’s itinerary for London has now been announced and it looks like she’s going to have a great time in the capital. On October 22, the puppet – who was designed by the Handspring Puppet Company, famous for ‘War Horse’ – will be welcomed to our city with the unveiling of a new piece of public artwork in Lewisham, which celebrates the 2022 London Borough of Culture’s diversity as well as the guest of honour. 

From there, she’ll head into Zone 1, where she’ll wake up on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral on October 23, before exploring the City and the South Bank’s landmarks, including Shakespeare’s Globe and Somerset House. That night she’ll have a sleepover at the Royal Opera House, guarded by a night vigil of singers, dancers and musicians, before a very big day on October 24: her tenth birthday. 

London is pulling out all the stops for this special occasion: a dawn chorus performance will wake up Little Amal and then she’ll go to a party at the V&A with children from across the city. Afterwards, she’ll be showered in birthday messages as she goes on a stroll through central London, winding up at another party at Camden’s Roundhouse, where she’ll say goodbye to the capital. 

She’ll then stop at Oxford, Coventry, Birmingham and Sheffield on her way to Manchester, having passed through Folkestone and Canterbury before arriving in London.

Update: Amal’s complete, final London public itinerary is now available. All events are free and unticketed unless otherwise stated. Some events listed above (eg the Royal Opera House sleepover) are not open to the public so not mentioned below.

Fri Oct 22

10am-noon She’ll explore Deptford High Street with hundreds of local children.

Sat Oct 23

10am She’ll form the centrepiece of a music and spoken-word event at St Paul’s Cathedral, directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

1pm She’ll be outside of the grounding gates to Shakespeare’s Globe just before the matinee of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

2pm She’ll arrive at the Southbank Centre for Welcome Wishes, a part of the London Literature Festival, and will be on hand for an event based around Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray’s ‘Swallow’s Kiss’, a novel about refugee children.

5.30pm A choir will welcome Amal to the National Theatre terrace.

7pm A special 20-minute intergenerational dance performance will welcome Amal to Somerset House.

Sun Oct 24 (Amal’s tenth birthday)

10am and 1pm Amal will have her birthday party (twice!) at the V&A: you’re required to book free tickets in advance. Highlights include a massive cake from Yotam Ottolenghi that will be shared with the audience.

4pm Hip-hop dance troupe Boy Blue perform a high-energy new piece for Amal at a central London location that’s TBA.

7pm A special birthday concert at the Roundhouse. The line-up has not yet been revealed, but it should be a good ’un and it’s the only paid-for part of the festivities, setting you back £20-£35.

Mon Oct 25

2pm London says bye-bye to Amal with a special event at Westminster Cathedral.

Find out about Little Amal’s journey and the events around it here.

Syrian chef Imad Alarnab tells us about starting over in London.

Check out this egg-based restaurant run by an Afghan refugee.

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