DANCING skeletons, sensory adventures and high flying acrobats are all coming to Stockton this summer as the 27th Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) announces its programme highlights.

From spectacular large scale shows to small and intimate experiences, the four-day festival returns in July with more than 100 theatre, dance and music productions from across the globe.

Starting on Thursday evening, 31 July, SIRF 14 will launch with Safe House, a spectacular large-scale performance by contemporary arts organisation, Metro-Boulot-Dodo.

The award-winning company has collaborated with Wired Aerial Theatre to produce the dramatic performance which explores the significance of home and the importance of being part of a community.

Beautiful visual projections form the backdrop to the show on Trinity Green, which will see acrobatic performers scale the walls of a mysterious house. Watch them appear out of windows, climb onto the roof top and fly around the house as rooms, memories and characters are revealed.

The celebrations continue on Friday 1 August as hairdresser and street theatre performer double act, Osadia, set up their unique hair salon on Stockton High Street. The creative duo will create weird and wonderful hair sculptures on audience members using the latest innovative concepts in hairdressing. Spectators will be able to watch the extraordinary creations take shape and become walking works of art on the streets of the town centre.

Friday will also see Catalan performing arts company Ponten Pie launch their sensory adventure, Artica. Temperatures inside Trinity Church will be dropped while visitors are greeted by a host of curious characters and offered a beautiful recycled coat to wear.  Indoors, moving visuals and poetry are set to transport people into a world of warming memories and nostalgia.

SIRF will bring a wide variety of performances in large spaces, small-scale areas and purpose built outdoor sets for dance troups, aerial performances and musical acts.

One of the highlights at this year’s SIRF will be The Roof, a thrilling suspended reality show presented by Fuel. Audience members will listen in on the mind of a hero through headphones as performers mix free running and contemporary dance to tell this fast-paced tale of survival.

Councillor Ken Dixon, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: “Stockton International Riverside Festival is one of the highlights of a fantastic programme of events which attracts thousands of visitors to the town, bringing investment to Stockton Town Centre and Riverside.

“We are thrilled to bring the unique, creative festival back to Stockton for its 27th year and will be presenting more than 100 exciting, fun and challenging shows.”

The festival will close with an unmissable finale of Les Tambours de la Muerte on the evening of Sunday 3 August.

Stockton’s High Street and Riverside will be brought to life with dancing skeletons, giant puppets, music, fabulous costumes and stunning pyrotechnics – all inspired by Mexico’s colourful ‘Day of the Dead’ festivities. Tangos, tarantellas and rumbas will all be played by the band as the figure of leading lady Belladonna dances through the streets of Stockton.

SIRF 14 will have up to 30 individual shows per day, from noon until 11pm at night.  There will be a mixture of both small-scale and large scale productions shows for people of all ages. Trinity Gardens will combine food stalls, small shows and installations that people can wander around at their leisure, as well as the after-dark spectaculars.

Entry to the festival is free. Audience capacity to ‘Artica’ is limited to 20 people for each performance, tickets to this show will be available on the day of the performance from SIRF Trinity, the festival information point on Trinity Green.

SIRF is supported by Arts Council England.

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