A HERD of giant red giraffes, a dance show performed entirely on the side of a building and music played on steel furnaces are just some of the attractions at one of Europe’s biggest street festivals this summer.
The 26th Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) takes place in the town from August 1 to 4 – and the closing ceremony will feature the herd of 20ft giraffe puppets, with stilt walkers inside, accompanied by an inept ringmaster, a flamboyant opera singer and a group of circus performers, making their way from the High Street to the Riverside.
The four day Stockton Council-organised festival will include a community carnival, which more than 1,500 local people take part in. Workshops are being held in the run-up to the festival so community groups, families and other residents can help make specially-designed costumes and banners.
The opening will feature Theater Titanick (correct) from Germany, with a fitting celebration of the steel industry in the Tees Valley.
LAST YEAR: Prometheus Awakes, by Graeae and La Fura dels Baus, was part of last year’s Riverside Festival
The “visual symphony” of metal, fire and sound will make music out of three boiling furnaces and a symphony orchestra.
Organisers are printing festival programmes and putting the final touches to the organisation of the huge event, which attracts performers and visitors from all over the world.
This is the first year the festival will be separate from the now paid-for music festival Stockton Weekender, which will take place the weekend before.
Jan Doherty, of Stockton Council, said separating the two festivals meant the Riverside festival could use more of the space by the river this year.
“When we did the Weekender and the SIRF last year at the same time the Weekender was charging and we were free, but our last big show was completely full and the Weekender was full too. The Weekender has gone to grow its own identity and we felt it was the right time to put them on on different weekends.”
SIRF, which receives Arts Council money to commission and encourage new performers and performances, is also hosting four UK premieres of street theatre shows, including three from Europe, this year.
One, by French company Compagnie Retouramont (CORRECT), features a dance troupe performing in harnesses while hanging off the side of a Stockton building.