DANCING skeletons will haunt the streets this summer as part of the 27th Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF).

The four-day event, which attracts thousands of visitors and brings about £1.3m-worth of spending into the town, will feature more than 100 theatre, dance and music shows.

The festival, which costs about £400,000 with half the money coming from the Arts Council and the rest from Stockton Borough Council, attracts leading street performers heading to the Edinburgh Fringe.

This year the event will begin on Thursday, July 31 with a spectacular performance called Safe House by arts group Metro-Boulot-Dodo. Acrobats will scale the walls of what appears to be a mysterious house created on the Trinity Green.

Other acts will include:

*Hairdressers and street theatre double act, Osadia will set up their unique hair salon on Stockton High Street where they will create weird and wonderful hair sculptures on audience members.

*The Roof, a ‘reality’ show presented by Fuel where audience members will listen in on the mind of a hero through headphones as performers mix free running and contemporary dance to tell a fast-paced tale of survival.

*A sensory adventure by Catalan performing arts company Ponten Pie called Artica. Temperatures inside Trinity Church will be dropped while visitors are greeted by curious characters and offered a recycled coat to wear while moving visuals and poetry inspire memories and nostalgia.

*A finale of Les Tambours de la Muerte on the evening of Sunday, August 3 when the 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.

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.”

SIRF 14 will have up to 30 individual shows per day, from noon until 11pm at night. To see the latest news and full festival programme, visit the SIRF website on www.sirf.co.uk