Your Complete Guide to Booking Children’s Entertainment
From bouncy inflatables to interactive science shows, the wonderful world of children’s entertainment is full of magical possibilities.
If you’re not sure where to begin, this guide covers all you need to know about the main options available, from Bubble Performers, Magicians and Clowns, to Football Freestylers, Jugglers and Costume Characters. We also take a look at Face Painters, Inflatables and Mobile Caterers, for the full party experience.
In this completely comprehensive guide we cover all the big questions, from what type of entertainer works for each age group to how much they will cost. We also give you plenty of tips on keeping things simple and stress-free, so you can book with confidence and enjoy every moment of your event.
Simply click here to go to the full guide and read up on all the vast pool of advice and tips we have pulled together to help your little ones have the time of their lives.
Or jump right in and click on the headings below to skip to the section you need:
Why Book a Children's Entertainer?
If the thought of planning your next children’s party has got you in a spin, we’re here to help.
You’ve got a fair bit to think about, from invitations and a venue, to food and decorations, but a professional children’s entertainer can take a lot of the strain and ensure that a fun time is had by all. Even better, it doesn’t need to be complicated, or expensive.
It’s true that children today can be a tough crowd. If your little ones and their friends already enjoy plenty of stimulation in the form of judo classes, music and tennis lessons, swimming club, television and Xbox, you might be wondering how on earth to keep them entertained at your party. But you’d be surprised by how much kids will enjoy the more traditional experiences offered by children’s entertainers. Afterall, these are talented professionals who do this every day, and they know a thing or two about holding children’s attention.
Our amazing Children’s Entertainers are highly-skilled performers who have a natural rapport with children and who know how to capture their imaginations. They put on fast-paced and highly interactive shows, full of games and high jinks, guaranteed to bring fun, excitement and much hilarity to parties and special occasions.
How to Choose the Right Children's Entertainer
The main consideration here is the age range of the children you're inviting. To help you we’ve outlined the general age range for each type of entertainment below.
As a general guide though, it’s safe to say that toddlers love party games, which you can make yourself, such as pass the parcel, musical chairs and treasure hunts. Adding music will bring excitement and get the kids moving and using up all of that excess energy. This can be organised by you, or you can hire a Party DJ.
Young children will enjoy a themed party, whether it’s animals, fairies, pirates, princesses, superheroes, the circus or disco dancing. Perhaps your party is based around Christmas, Easter or Halloween. Face Painters, Costumed Characters, Children’s Magicians, Balloon Modellers and Puppeteers are always popular with little ones and can easily adapt their act to incorporate a chosen theme.
Children over 5 require slightly more sophisticated entertainment. They might enjoy a Carnival theme, with face painting, games and a juggler or acrobats. Magicians and Bubble Performers also go down well with older children.
A great option for teenagers is a disco with a DJ or live band. For young football fans, a Football Freestyler can come and perform amazing tricks to music and teach some awesome football moves.
Another consideration is your venue. Some entertainers need more space to perform in than others. For more information, see our section below on Venue Considerations.
Balloon Modellers (Age 3-7)
Balloon Modellers will delight young children.
Working at high speed, they inflate colourful balloons and twist them into incredible shapes. They make cars, bicycles, planes, flowers, funny hats, animals, cartoon characters and even giant balloon jewellery! The children get to keep these brilliant creations and can even have a go at balloon sculpting themselves. Check out our Balloon Modellers to find a performer near you.
Bubble Performers (Age 3-10)
Bubble Performers are always a big hit because everyone loves bubbles!
Kids will be enthralled by big bubbles, small bubbles, smoke-filled bubbles, and bubbles inside bubbles. There are bubble tricks and fire bubbles, and some performers even offer fun, interactive science bubble workshops! Take a look at our extraordinary Bubble Performers and make contact today.
Children’s / Kids’ Magicians (Age 5-11)
Children’s Magicians offer high-energy, fast-moving shows including a huge array of tricks and plenty of comedy.
Not only will children be astonished by mind-blowing magic, they will end up doubled over with laughter, and it’s pretty entertaining for any adults watching too!
If your party is for a special little person, they will be made to feel like the star of the show as they join in with the show. Older children may even learn how to perform a few tricks themselves!
So, bring sparkle, magic and plenty of giggles to your occasion and hire one of our professional Children's / Kid's Magicians. Browsing through their profiles, you can read biographies and testimonials and watch showreels, to see them performing live.
EW TOP TIP
''For little ones, keep the tricks simple and go for a shorter show. They won’t have the attention span for a long, elaborate performance.''
Clowns (Age 3-7)
With their oversized, brightly coloured outfits and daft antics, Clowns can make just about anyone smile. In addition to goofy, giggle-inducing ‘clowning around’ they have many talents and can perform a wide range of routines such as juggling, balloon modelling, magic tricks, puppet shows, mime, story-telling, acrobatics and dancing!
So, for a large dose of comedy and slapstick, hire one of our wacky Clowns. These flexible acts can easily adapt their routines to suit different venues and occasions, so they are also great for charity fundraisers, family parties, school and community events and circus-themed celebrations.
One thing to bear in mind is that very young children can sometimes be frightened of clowns. However, most are not remotely scary (some don’t even wear make-up) and they generally go down a storm.
This is a great option for a stress-free party, where youngsters get to take part in fun and games galore, and the birthday boy or girl will get to be the star of the show.
Costumed Characters (Age 3-7)
For young fans of Elsa, Spongebob Squarepants, Harry Potter, Minions or Peppa Pig, what could be more exciting than the arrival of a costumed entertainer bringing their favourite character to life?
From princesses and mermaids to pirates and pop stars, there are hundreds of characters to choose from. As well as wearing full costume and make-up, these entertainers provide fun, interactive shows, with games, photos, prizes, dancing and singing, bringing magic to your little one’s birthday party, sleepover or family celebration.
Speak to our Costumed Characters about the different packages they offer, including fake snow, bubbles, smoke machines, LED props, craft activities and discos. By visiting their profiles, you can see which characters they offer, view photos, read testimonials and use the contact form to request a free, no-obligation quote.
Face Painters (Age 3-10)
Who doesn’t love to be adorned with pretty decorations, glittery flowers and butterflies, or transform into their favourite animal or superhero? Face painters are perfect for themed events and will add a magic touch to any party.
There’s no need to worry about bad skin reactions as only safe materials are used. Face paints are all water-based and hypoallergenic and only high quality temporary tattoos, glitter, sponges and brushes are used.
Face Painters work well in conjunction with another entertainer, who will be putting on the main show. They can set up in a quiet corner, so that children can take turns without it disrupting the rest of the party.
We recommend visiting the profiles of our talented Face Painters to see samples of their work, get a feel for their style and read those all-important testimonials from previous customers.
EW TOP TIP
''It’s a good idea to allow at least 5-10 minutes for each child to have their face painted, so if you have a large party you may need more than one face painter!''
Also, If you’re hiring a bouncy castle or soft play area, check with the hire company, as they may not allow children with painted faces to play on them.
Football Freestyle Acts (Age 7-15)
Organising a birthday party for a young football fan?
A freestyler will go down a storm. While performing impressive routines to music, they dribble, spin, kick, catch, juggle, balance and bounce the ball, as well as teaching a few tricks. Check out our dazzling Football Freestyle Acts, many of whom have performed for the big brands.
Jugglers (Age 6-10)
Jugglers are a hugely popular speciality act, providing dynamic, entertaining shows or walkabout entertainment that can work indoors or outdoors. As well as juggling plates, colourful batons, hoops and balls, jugglers incorporate plenty of comedy into their routines. For older children, you can opt for more daring stunts involving juggling knives and fire torches!
So, to bring a fun, festival vibe to your celebrations, and even give your children the opportunity to get involved and learn some basic circus skills, look no further than our talented Jugglers. If you’re planning a party with a circus or carnival theme, you may also be interested in our Foot Jugglers , Diabolo Acts, Stilt Walkers and Acrobats.
EW TOP TIP
''If you’re booking a fire juggler, make sure you follow appropriate safety guidelines. If in doubt, speak to your chosen Juggler and your venue.''
Hula Hoop Performers (Age 7-15)
A professional Hula Hoop Performer will put on a breathtaking show combining flexibility, rhythm and acrobatics, keeping youngsters captivated as they perform astonishing routines to music.
For a fun and dynamic act, that will add a colourful and interesting visual element to your children’s party, check out our talented Hula Hoop Performers. They are particularly well suited to any event with a circus or carnival theme.
Ventriloquists (Age 5-10)
Ventriloquists perform with puppets (known as dummies) that are created with extraordinary imagination and artistic flair, to bring about strong, believable characters and lots of laughs.
When children watch a skilled ventriloquist, they suspend their disbelief and enjoy a hilarious show. The dummy usually tells the jokes and is always one step ahead of the ventriloquist - to the delight of any young audience! To find the perfect family-friendly performer, check out our Ventriloquists.
Puppeteers (Age 3-7)
Puppet shows will bring a captivating theatrical element to your children’s party.
Puppets today come in all shapes and sizes, from the traditional Punch and Judy to wooden insect marionnettes, fluffy animal characters and muppet-style puppets. As they come to life under the skillful hand of the puppeteer, young children will be entranced by gripping stories full of dramatic flair, funny songs, silly voices and games.
Most puppeteers set their stage up in a central location while children sit around and watch the magic appear. The shows are usually interactive, with plenty of audience participation and the birthday boy or girl taking part in the show if they wish. You may even get bubbles, tricks and other routines thrown in. To see what kind of shows are on offer near you, check out our talented Puppeteers.
Hand Shadow Acts (Age 3-7)
Shadow theatre consists of artists creating shapes with their hands and bodies that are projected in silhouette onto screens that are painted or lit with atmospheric backgrounds.
This creates a visually magnificent and dynamic show, incorporating physical theatre, music, colour and stories, that will have particular appeal to young children. Hand shadow acts are usually performed by a duo or group of actors. Take a look at our magical Hand Shadow Acts and find an act near you.
Party DJ (Age 5-16)
Get the kids moving with a specialist Party DJ who can play the perfect playlist for any age.
Whether it’s party hits or a Disney soundtrack to accompany little ones while they play games, or pop and rock requests for teenagers, a Party DJ will know just how to make your party perfect, and will come with their own PA system and disco lights.
Event Services for Children's Parties
Inflatables and Soft Play (Age 3-7)
Who doesn’t love a bouncy castle? This is a sure fire way to keep the kids happy and burning off a load of energy at your event. With options to fit every kind of party, there are traditional bouncy castles, slides, paddling pools, obstacle courses, mazes, laser and jousting games, boxing rings, and penalty shoot out inflatables!
Soft play companies have a huge range of designs to choose from, in different shapes and sizes and catering for every possible theme, including the beach, the zoo, the funfair, Disney, superheroes, princesses and pirates.
Inflatable hire companies will set up their equipment for you, and provide clear instructions on safe use, such as no shoes and the maximum number of kids permitted at one time.
EW TOP TIP
Children with painted faces may not be allowed on inflatables. It is also highly advisable not to let children take food onto them, both for safety reasons and to avoid paying an extra clean up fee.
Magic Selfie Mirror (all ages)
In the age of instagram, a magic mirror is an inspired choice for your children’s party. With clever, hidden technology, what looks like a regular mirror is actually a camera, and not just any camera.
Guests have the ability to customise their photos, using emojis, graphics and personalised captions and messages, and with unlimited prints, they will have special keepsakes to take home with them (or digital copies to share on social media).
Magic mirrors don’t take up much space, making them suitable for house parties and venues of all sizes. They are even buggy and wheelchair accessible. Hire packages include full set up and pack down, unlimited photos, instant prints and digital copies, props and a choice of frames.
Options such as a red carpet and rope barriers are perfect for making the birthday boy or girl feel like a star. You will also have a professional attendant on hand to assist with using the mirror, hand out props and keep everything running smoothly. So, give your children the VIP treatment with one or our magical Magic Selfie Mirrors.
Mobile Caterers (all ages)
Fancy taking a load off and hiring a professional children’s caterer?
Whether you want wood-fired pizza, authentic German hot dogs, marshmallows or a chocolate fountain, kids will go crazy for their own special mobile caterer. Children of all ages will love fun, beach-style food carts, vintage vans and funky, colourful stalls, and can even get good and messy making their own concoctions.
There are candy carts, candyfloss machines, fruit trees, ice-cream, slush and popcorn machines. The choice is endless!
Mobile caterers come with fully-trained staff and will ensure that any special dietary requirements are met, just let them know in advance. Take a look at our Caterers and Chocolate Fountains and use our free messaging service to ask any questions, or to request a free, no-obligation quote.
How Much does a Children's Entertainer Cost to Hire?
Prices vary depending on the level of experience of the individual entertainer, the type of show they offer, how far they have to travel to your venue and the size of the event. Here is a rough guide to price ranges for standard shows:Balloon Modeller: £200 to £400 in the UK ($200 - $400 in the U.S. and €230 - €450 in Europe)
Since prices do vary widely, we highly recommend getting in touch with your chosen performer for a completely free, no-obligation quote.
As with booking any act, we advise that it’s worth paying for a reputable performer who will turn up on time and deliver great entertainment. See our Essential Tips below for information on booking terms and conditions.
EW TOP TIP
''When it comes to booking children’s entertainment, there is no need to spend lots of money hiring multiple performers. Children can often focus better and get more out of it when they can give an act their full attention.''
How Much do Children's Event Services Cost to Hire?
How Long Will a Children's Entertainer Perform For?Children’s Entertainers are highly versatile and can adapt their set lengths to suit your requirements. A standard show will usually be between 45 minutes and 2 hours but sometimes a short 15-minute set is all that’s required.
Balloon Modeller: 60-90 minutes
EW TOP TIP
''Your chosen performer entertains children for a living. If they say that a one or two hour show is sufficient for the number of children and their age range (and attention spans), they probably know best, so don’t feel under pressure to book acts or event services for longer than you need to.''
All the Other Practicalities
As children’s acts vary so much depending on the activities, props and equipment involved, as well as the number of children attending, we advise asking your entertainer or service provider how much space they require for the event in question.
As a rough guide, we recommend the following minimum stage size / performance area for different act types and services (width x depth):
Balloon Modeller: 2.5m x 2.5m
Bubble Performer: 3m x 3.5m
Children’s Magician: 2.5m x 2.5m
Clown: 2.5m x 2.5m
Costumed Character: 2.5m x 2.5m
Face Painter: 2m x 2m (room for a small table and two chairs)
Football Freestyle Act: back gardens to stadiums, these performers are very flexible. Outdoors is best, unless you’re using a sports hall or gym.
Juggler: 2m x 2m (minimum ceiling height 3.5m)
Hula Hoop Performer: 3m x 3m
Ventriloquist: 2.5m x 4.5m
Puppeteer: 2.5m x 4.5m
Hand Shadow Act: 6m x 6m
Party DJ: 2.5m x 1.5m
Inflatables & Soft Play: 3.65m x 6.35m - 4.57m x 4.57m - 4.57m x 5.5m
Magic Mirror: 3m x 2m
Mobile Caterer: space for the van / cart / table and for people to queue and collect cutlery etc. (speak to your provider)
EW TOP TIP
''When booking your venue, allow at least one hour before and after the party for set up and take down/clear up time. Also, call your venue the week before and the day before your party, to double check the space hasn’t been double-booked. You’d be surprised how often this can happen!''
Balloon Modellers will bring their own pumps, balloons and other equipment and require very little by way of set up time. They may need a power supply close to where they will be performing, so it’s a good idea to check this when booking.
A Bubble Performer will need approximately one hour to set up and is likely to require a power supply. For open air bubble fun, a big open grassy area is ideal, with enough space for the children to run around and chase bubbles.
Magicians & Clowns
Children’s Magicians and Clowns will provide their own props and will usually arrive around 30 minutes before they are due to perform. If you are hiring a more elaborate show, with PA system and lighting, more set up time will be needed and this should be discussed with the individual performer.
If they are using animals, such as doves or rabbits in their show, they will need a quiet, clean storage area for these. Some magic tricks involve fire or smoke effects, so you will need to get permission for this from the venue and make sure they won’t set off smoke alarms.
Magicians and Clowns may require a power supply and if your venue is outdoors, make sure the act is aware of this.
Costumed Characters will provide all of their own costumes, make-up, props and equipment. If they are providing extra activities or a disco, you’ll need to discuss with your act what their set up requirements are.
Face Fainters will bring all their own paints and brushes and only require a small table and two chairs. They can provide this, unless you would prefer them to use ones already at the venue. They can also bring a cloth to protect the table from spills.
These performers are very flexible and can perform in a back garden or forecourt as well as stadiums, exhibition halls and shopping centres and will tailor their show to suit your event. Outdoors is ideal, unless you’re using a sports hall or gym. They will provide their own balls.
Hula Hoop Performers
Minimum ceiling height: 3.5 metres (the higher the better). Minimal set up requirements.
Minimum ceiling height: 3.5 metres (the higher the better). Unless this is an LED or fire juggler, there will be minimal set up requirements.
These performers provide their own puppets (dummies). They often use a PA system and may need a high chair on which to place the dummy. Acts often involve the use of several puppets, so performers may need a trunk or curtained area in which to keep them. If in doubt, check with your chosen performer when you book.
Puppeteers will need an area large enough for their puppet theatre, themselves and their puppets and props behind it. A portable puppet show with props, scripting, puppets and sound equipment will usually take around 40 minutes to set up.
Hand Shadow Acts
Performers provide the screen, projector, black drapes to conceal the stage area and temporary flooring to go over the stage. Full shadow theatre shows with a group of actors will need a minimum stage area of 6m x 6m and 3.5m ceiling height. Technical set up will take around 45 minutes. Sound and lighting may take up to an hour and a half.
Even though your DJ will mainly be in one spot, they will need a certain amount of space in order to be comfortable and put on the best possible show. Your chosen venue may have a DJ booth or stage area. If not, we recommend a minimum area of 2.5m x 1.5m for the DJ + turntables, mixing desk, vinyl or laptop, monitors and lighting stands. If in doubt, check with your DJ.
Event DJs, also known as mobile discos, come fully equipped with all their own equipment, including decks, PA system, microphones and lighting.
Whatever the venue, large or small, indoors or outdoors, your DJ will need the basics of a dry/covered area to set up, a safe supply of electricity and at least four power point sockets near the stage area.
It usually takes an hour or two for a DJ to unload their equipment, set up and sound check. It will take longer if there are extra features such as complex lighting or video screens to install.
If you’re hoping to use the DJ’s microphone, to make speeches or announcements, it’s a good idea to check with them first. Most DJs nowadays use wireless microphones and some prefer other people not to use their equipment, in case it gets damaged. However, your DJ may be able to provide an extra hand-held mic, so don’t forget to request this if necessary.
Inflatables & Soft Play
Bouncy castles vary in size but usually take around twenty minutes to set up and the same again to take down. A 240v mains power supply will be needed, or the company can often supply a generator if necessary. The hire company will usually insist on setting up their equipment, as they are fully trained and know how to ensure that everything is set up correctly and according to safety regulations.
Magic mirrors are usually around 2m x 3m and 2m in height, so sufficient space is required for the mirror and an area for the children to try out props and pose in front of the screen. A 13 amp power supply should be available close to the mirror and parking with easy access to the venue, for loading and unloading. If the venue is not on the ground floor, a lift is required.
Space required for a mobile caterer really depends on the type of stall you’re hiring. A pizza van will need a lot more room than a confectionary cart. Speak with your caterer about their space and set up requirements. They will be happy to advise.
Entertainers and event service providers may need to unload heavy equipment, so it’s essential that they have a parking space near to the entrance, with easy access to the backstage and stage areas. Mobile caterers will need reasonably level ground on which to park their van / stall / cart and an easy route to and from the venue.
Essential Tips for Booking Children's Party Entertainment
How far in advance should I book?
Popular entertainers get booked up months in advance. Weekends are often busy times and Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve get booked up well in advance. So, get your booking in nice and early!
Do I need to provide food?
Your entertainer may have travelled some distance to get to your event and have a long day ahead. For daytime performances, acts will require soft drinks, water and tea or coffee free of charge. For longer or evening events, you should provide a proper meal as well. This will be much appreciated!
Do I need to pay a deposit?
Entertainers usually require a deposit of around 15-20% of the overall cost, in order to secure the booking. This protects the performer against lost income in the event of cancellation, and also gives you reassurance that you have a confirmed booking.
Will I have to cover travel expenses?
These will usually be included in the quote you are given, as your entertainer will need to calculate their travel costs, especially if they are travelling some distance.
What happens if the act cancels?
Thankfully this rarely happens, but in the unlikely event that, due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances, the entertainer is unable to perform for you as agreed, they will usually have a contingency plan. This means they can send a similar performer in their place, at no extra cost to you. For confirmation of this, you can check the Terms and Conditions in your contract and ask your performer what will happen is they are unexpectedly unavailable.
What happens if our event is cancelled?
If you are in the unlucky position of having to cancel your event, there will be a cancellation fee. The amount usually increases the closer it gets to the event date. For example, cancelling 90 days before the event might incur 75% of the overall fee, while cancelling less than 30 days prior might mean paying the entire sum.
These conditions should be laid out in the contract you receive when booking, so check before signing. If you have any reason to think your event may not go ahead as planned, it would be better to let your act know as soon as possible.
When hiring entertainment for children, additional care needs to be taken to ensure their safety. While many Children’s Entertainers have DBS clearance (police checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service), the law on this changed in 2018.
Children’s Entertainers (unlike social workers, teachers and other employees who work regularly with children) are not in a caring or teaching role and are not left alone with children. Therefore, it is up to you to ensure that a responsible adult is present to supervise throughout the duration of their act.
While some schools and local authorities may require DBS checks for entertainers who work for them on a regular basis, it is not obligatory for Children’s Entertainers to undergo DBS checking and this should not be made a requirement of booking.
For more information on DBS checking, visit the Disclosure and Barring Service.
Insurance / Risk Assessment
Reputable children’s entertainers will have Public Liability Insurance.
This covers you and them in the event of a claim, should any members of the public or guests be injured at your event, or any damage be caused to property. If you’re hiring a venue, the venue should also have Public Liability Insurance.
If your act is a member of Equity, a trade union that represent live performers in the entertainment industry in the UK (the American Guild of Variety Artists or the Actors' Equity Association in the U.S. and various unions and societies in Europe), this gives you extra reassurance that they are professional and trustworthy, fully insured and abiding by industry standard contracts.
Clarify in Advance!
When it comes to practicalities, it’s always better to discuss them in advance, to avoid any unexpected hitches on the day.
Whatever questions you have, however silly they might seem to you, you can bet they’ve heard them before, and worse! So, don’t be shy - good communication is the key to planning a great event.
We also recommend double-checking everything with your chosen entertainer the day before, to confirm what time they will be arriving etc. You can also ask them to text you on the morning of the party to confirm all is well.