More than 5,000 children and their families enjoyed a fun packed summer staged by Bolton's Octagon Theatre.

The Octagon has released figures from its summer programme designed to put families at the heart of their work.

Fun and creative activities, included from Sharing Stories projects in libraries, to an 80s themed summer school and the ever-popular annual Family Festival.

Theatre chiefs say they are committed to growing their family programme over recent years, providing opportunities for all young people to have access to the arts and offering co-design opportunities with local parents and carers.

The Bolton News: Octagon's put families and children centre stage: Picture by Bolton Documentary Photography

This summer saw the Octagon take storytelling on tour with their Sharing Stories Library Tour – partnering with Bolton Libraries and Museums, the Octagon visited libraries across Bolton providing free storytelling and craft sessions as part of their Sharing Stories community project which is funded by The Oglesby Charitable Trust.

More than 500 people attended the sessions, enjoying live readings of popular children’s stories as well as taking part in a range of activities from dance, puppetry, story writing, arts and crafts.

The Bolton News: Octagon's put families and children centre stage: Picture by Bolton Documentary Photography

A local parent who attended said: “My family first saw the Octagon storytelling in Central Library, we loved the storytelling so much that we started to follow the Library Tour. Our next visit was Breightmet Library, and our children had so much fun listening to the storyteller and making their own storybooks. It's great the Octagon have activities on for families over summer.”

Also part of the Sharing Stories project, the Octagon partnered with Bolton Wanderers in the Community to deliver a literacy and drama project with Year Four and Five pupils at Pikes Lane Primary School, culminating in 120 pupils performing on the Octagon stage.

Learning mentor at Pikes Lane Primary School, Carol Lowe said: “Most of our students have never done anything like this before and we have already had incredible feedback from children who have asked for an after-school drama club.

The Bolton News: Octagon's put families and children centre stage: Picture by Bolton Documentary Photography

“Confidence in the children is sky high at the minute and behaviour is much improved and I think it’s all been because they have been so looking forward to this, they want to do well.”

Family engagement lead at the Octagon, Taylor Barnes said: “The importance of this project was to encourage reading and literacy through a creative outlet and we worked with the young people to develop their drama skills, communication skills, storytelling and creativity. We were thrilled to be able to offer opportunities like this both with partner schools, and in the school holidays when it’s so important for children to continue their reading and storytelling journey.”

Ending the summer on a sensational high, the Octagon delivered their third annual Family Festival – which was supported with funding from Arts Council England and Bolton Council.

Over the course of the three-day free event, this year saw more than 4,500 people visit and enjoy the festivities on offer.

Activities included storytelling, live performances, family disco, art and crafts inside the Octagon as well as a wide selection of outdoor activities across the town including performances from children’s theatre companies The Fabularium, The Big Tiny, eBublio and Circus Sensible.

Feedback included comments such as “The whole experience was well organised and very inclusive, a totally enjoyable experience for the whole family. Thank you”.

And: “The Family Festival is a fantastic event, so many activities to pack into a two-hour time slot. Brilliant event and looking forward to next year.”

Head of Creative Engagement at the Octagon, Imogen Woolrich said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming so many young people and their families to the Octagon this summer. Theatre and the arts offer important skills for young people, helping to inspire creativity, imagination and provide crucial skills for learning and development and we believe that all young people should have an opportunity to take part.

“It has been wonderful for the theatre to engage with so many local Bolton families both at the Octagon and across the work in the community, and I hope everyone who has taken part in any of the activities, have had as much fun taking part as we have had delivering it.”

“Thanks to all of the creative partners we have worked with across the summer from artists, theatre and story makers, project partners, volunteers, and a massive thank you to the funders of these projects, without their support none of these activities would not have been possible.”

“We will now look forward to reflecting on all of the activities from the past few months as we look ahead to developing even more work for and with young people and families over the coming months and year ahead.”