The Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival has unleashed a packed programme of family-friendly shows for the first week of the school holidays.

Starting today, the festival is presenting a programme of rich and diverse theatre and dance offerings, guaranteed to delight even the most discerning of young audiences.

From the makers of Back of the Bus, which enjoyed six sell-out shows earlier this week, comes Cheese, on stage in the Spiegeltent, today at 11am. Created and performed by Java Dance Theatre, Cheese is a lively and joyful combination of movement, dance, theatre and music.

With squirting milk jets and flying hay bales, the youngest members of the family will revel in this highly sensory (and somewhat messy) adventure, as the performers attempt to make their very own cheese.


On Sunday and Monday, award-winning Australian comedians The Listies bring their uproarious new comedy show to the Spiegeltent.

The Listies Make You LOL! is packed to the brim with crowd-pleasing gags, including alien attacks, toilet paper guns, and various bodily functions that are best left unsaid.

Another award-winning Australian comedy duo, Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias, perform the heart-warming and hilarious Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon, on Wednesday, October 4 and Saturday, October 7 in the Spiegeltent.

This delightfully irreverent tale takes the audience on a celestial adventure, punctuated with sparkling humour and toe-tapping songs, guaranteed to delight both children and adults.

For older children and teens, Mixtape Dance Show is a stunning performance of six contemporary dance works, being performed at The Blyth Performing Arts Centre, Iona College, this Sunday night. Created by two of New Zealand's leading choreographers, Perri Exeter and Joash Fahitua, Mixtape is inspired by stories from their culture, history, experience and fantasy.

Rounding off the final weekend of the festival is Pss Pss from Swiss theatre company Compagnia Baccalà. This timeless performance blends contemporary clown with theatre and circus in a highly physical and humorous performance that will enthral audiences of all ages.

Winner of 13 international prizes, Pss Pss is a highly polished act, which has been performed over 600 times in more than 50 countries around the world to huge acclaim.

Festival director Pitsch Leiser says he's excited to be presenting one of the strongest programmes of family entertainment in the festival's three-year history.

"Young people are our audiences of the future and we're committed to offering them the same level of exceptional entertainment that we offer throughout the rest of the programme," says Leiser.

"Even though we live in a world of non-stop digital entertainment, nothing compares with the joy and wonder of live theatre."

Tickets are available from or from the box office at the venue one hour before each performance.