Fun times lie ahead for the young ones as The AHA! International Theatre for Children Festival is back.

Starting this weekend, Ranga Shankara here will host this nine-day fest, providing young minds an insight into various creative art forms.

The festival opens on Saturday with an episode of Lava-Kusha, in which celebrated Kathakali doyen Sadanam Balakrishnan plays Hanuman, while Leela Samson plays Sita.

Kapila Venu, a young Koodiyattam star, will perform a story on Krishna in the 2,000-year-old art form, on July 16 and 17.

“The colours and layers of the Kathakali makeup and costumes will stir the children's minds; the reverberating chenda, maddalam, mizhavu and idakka will enthral them, and the picture of everything coming together — the costumes, sounds, exquisite performances and the magic of a live performance art — will remain imprinted in their minds forever,” Ranga Shanakar founder Arundati Nag said in a release.

The Little Cloud, Ranga Shankara's story-telling programme, will feature four story-tellers from India and abroad take centre stage with a bagful of enchanting stories.

A puppet performance by Margrit Gysin, called the Grande Dame of Europe's puppeteers; an Indo-Korean production Heungbu, Nolbu; and Troi, a production supported by the Goethe-Institut, featuring live music and visual art will be among the shows featured during the event.

Among the host of programmes planned for the children are an “open to all” Painting Day, a pin-hole camera-making workshop and a costume-make-up-set corner where children can put up their own play, the release added.

The AHA! Fest will be on from July 9 to 17. Ranga Shankara can be contacted on 26592777. Log on to www.rangashankara.org for the full schedule.