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England’s Famous Puppet Mr. Punch Turns 350

May 14th, 2012

Punch is turning 350 this year, and to celebrate he’s throwing a party in the UK all summer long.

Mr. Punch – the diminutive star of the traditional British slapstick puppet show Punch and Judy – is arguably the world’s most famous puppet and traces his roots back to May 9, 1662, when famed diarist Samuel Pepys recorded an encounter with “an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw…” while strolling through London’s Covent Garden. The site of the historic performance (the first known performance of a “Punch” show in the UK) is now marked with a plaque and is the location of the annual Punch and Judy Puppet Festival, held every May to commemorate the famous puppet’s birthday.

This year’s festival took place over the weekend and the festivities included the awarding of a new Guinness World Record title to mark Punch’s 350th birthday. The organizers claim it was the largest gathering of Punch and Judy “Professors” (as the puppeteers like to call themselves) in history!

If you want to get in on the fun, don’t worry you haven’t missed your chance. Punch’s “Big Grin” birthday celebrations continue all summer throughout the United Kingdom. Visit www.thebiggrin350.com for full event listings and more information.

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