The UK is bustling with festivals that showcase the cool and creative world of animation. From seasoned festivals to fresh new events, there’s something for everyone in the UK’s animated storytelling scene. Whether you’re part of a talented team trying to get your name out there or simply want to enjoy some stunning animated visuals, there’s much for you in Britain. So, read on as we take you on a tour of the top 10 British animation festivals!
Our Top 10 British Animation Festivals
1) London International Animation Festival
Since its inception in 2003, the London International Animation Festival (LIAF) has been on a mission to shatter the idea that animation is merely child’s play. Hosting an array of entertaining and provocative films from around the globe, it’s the perfect event to see just how diverse and compelling the world of animation can be or to showcase your very own.
Here, creators have a platform to compete for esteemed titles such as ‘Best International Film’ and ‘Best British Film’ for those based in the UK, ensuring that everyone gets a chance. If you’re looking for an event that promises to provide a vivid snapshot of the animation industry’s boundless creativity, the LIAF is simply unmissable.
2) Raindance Film Festival
For 31 years and counting, people from all over flock to London for the Raindance Film Festival, a vital platform in the UK where brilliant filmmakers come to shine. It’s the largest independent film festival in the UK, boasting a reputation for nurturing creativity and innovation both locally and globally.
In addition to its impressive name, it’s a qualifying event for the BAFTA Awards, Academy Awards, and Canadian Screen Awards, so it’s definitely one to enter if you’re after prestige. Categories for animated works include ‘Best Animation Short’ and the more general ‘Best Narrative Short’ and ‘Best Narrative Feature’ awards. Keep in mind, for the feature film categories, your creation needs to have its UK premiere at the festival. But with its deep legacy, it’s well worth your while.
3) British Animation Film Festival
For 13 years, London has been animated — quite literally — by the yearly British Animation Film Festival. An event that brings together phenomenal creators from the UK and from around the globe, it shines a spotlight on the brightest and best in the animation sphere.
Open to both UK-based and international filmmakers, the festival provides a fantastic platform for a broad array of animated wonders, with accolades such as ‘Best Animation’, ‘Best Animated Short’, and ‘The Rising Star Award‘ on offer. Whether you’re a budding animator eager to make your mark or a seasoned professional keen to see the latest trends and innovations, this festival has much to offer and is a must-see for all in the UK.
4) Manchester Animation Festival
In just 8 years, the Manchester Animation Festival has firmly established itself in the UK’s animation landscape. Held annually in the vibrant city of Manchester, it proudly stands as the UK’s most extensive celebration dedicated to animation. Between its renowned status as its own event and an Academy Award-qualifying festival, it offers a golden opportunity for animators all over to gain some serious recognition.
In addition to the usual accolades for Best Short and Best Feature, Industry Excellence Awards are also up for grabs, bringing the focus to talents in the business side as well. So, whether you’re an animator keen on showcasing your latest creation or just eager to see the best the industry has to offer, the Manchester Animation Festival is the place to be.
5) Flatpack Festival
For nearly 20 years, Birmingham’s annual Flatpack Festival has been the go-to spot for film lovers looking for stuff outside the mainstream. This gathering revels in showcasing film in all forms, offering a rich palette with space for animation, offbeat shorts for kids, and hidden archived gems.
The festival also holds a BAFTA-qualifying status, just further sweetening the pot. Animators will want to keep an eye out for categories including the ‘Short Film Award‘ and the ‘WTF Award‘ for the most out-of-the-box creations. And of course, the Audience Award for the film that gives the crowd the best kick. With its special emphasis on the more unusual, the Flatpack Festival brings together a community where every animator, whether up-and-coming or experienced, can find inspiration and appreciation.
6) British Animation Awards
For the past 27 years, the British Animation Awards have been coming around once every 2 years to celebrate the finest animation the UK has to offer. It’s a love letter to the animators in each of Britain’s four home nations.
To all the British animators, this is your chance to shine in categories such as ‘Best Animation in a Commercial‘ and the ‘Cutting Edge Award’, which recognises the innovative minds in the industry. Given its emphasis on spotlighting local talent, do note that submitted productions need to have their main creative and entrepreneurial roots firmly planted in the UK. Whether veteran animator or animation enthusiast, the British Animation Awards offers a grand time to see the best that the UK has to offer.
With 17 years of spotlighting the most exhilarating short films and animations, Kinofilm is a cornerstone of England’s vibrant film culture. Taking place annually in Manchester, it’s the region’s longest-running short film festival, creating a hub for celebrating the dynamic art forms of animation and short-films in particular.
For animators interested in making an entry, you’ll be competing for the ‘Best Animated Short’ category, a fiercely competitive segment that promises recognition to the very best animated shorts. So, if you find yourself in the British Isles, make sure to mark your calendars for Kinofilm.
8) London Independent Film Festival
Set in the UK’s capital, for 11 days each year, a premier destination for indie film enthusiasts opens up — the London Independent Film Festival (LIFF) . It’s a festival with a heart for the underdog, spotlighting first and second-time filmmakers working with limited budgets to bring inspiring stories to life.
While the festival invites creativity across various genres, it holds a special place for the animated world, with categories such as ‘Best Animated Short’ and ‘Best Experimental Short‘ offering a spot to the best. For all who love animation, LIFF promises not just a showcase of creativity but a celebration of raw talent and film.
9) Cardiff Animation Festival
In just 4 years, the Cardiff Animation Festival has established itself as a can’t-miss event in the vibrant arts hub of Chapter, Wales. This annual festival is a feast for animation enthusiasts, with a diverse programme of animated short film programmes, feature films, masterclasses, and a lot more.
Open to a wide range of animated short films — from narrative to experimental — there’s no limit to innovation here, with accolades such as ‘Best Short’ and the ‘Audience Award’ awaiting the most outstanding creations. Whether you’re gunning for a prize or just want to network with others in the British animation industry, the Cardiff Animation Festival is the perfect venue.
10) Factual Animation Film Festival
For the past 8 years, the Factual Animation Film Festival (FAFF) has carved out a unique niche as a pioneering event devoted to celebrating factual and documentary animation, offering a platform where reality meets creativity. What sets FAFF apart is its open embrace of all mediums and techniques of animation, creating a canvas for all non-fictional narratives to come alive.
From poignant animated stories to educational narratives, it’s all welcome here. Animated shorts of varying lengths are accepted here, with awards for Best Film and Best Student Film giving an inclusive space for young talents. So, if you have an animated story to tell, the Factual Animation Film Festival is the stage where your creation can shine.
There you have it — the UK is absolutely brimming with animation festivals for animation lovers the world over. From iconic cities to the digital space, these festivals offer not just a chance to witness and display the brilliance of animated storytelling but also to learn, network, and celebrate this dynamic art form. Whether you’re a budding animator eyeing to showcase your masterpiece or just someone who enjoys a good animated story, there’s a festival waiting for you.