Stockton town centre and riverside were transformed by the spectacular finale parade, ‘Les Girafes’, which brought the 26th Stockton International Riverside Festival (Sirf 13) to a magnificent close last night (Sunday 4 August).
The High Street came alive with a herd of red giraffes and their red suited circus trainers. The whirling, chaotic, procession was followed by enthralled crowds as smoke effects and sweeping spot lights enveloped spectators. The dazzling operatic performers played out their tale of feuding and jealousy from their platforms above the audience heads, surrounded by the swaying necks and jostling bodies of the giraffes. Explosions sent clouds of red confetti into the air and water sprayed players and watchers alike.
Thousands of people joined the procession along the High Street and Riverside to join in the fun, creating a massive crowd as the show reached its crescendo, exploding into showers of sparks and light as a firework display over the Tees lit up the night sky.
Councillor Ken Dixon, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: “The Stockton International Riverside Festival has become part of a wonderful calendar of events which brings the community together to celebrate Stockton alongside thousands of new visitors who come to see the performances.
“The weekend has been a fantastic success and shows off Stockton at its very best – presenting the High Street and riverside at its very best and putting the town on the world-map of events.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make the Festival happen and to everyone who has come along and supported it.”
Last year, the approximate visitor numbers were 70,000 with an estimated contribution to the local economy of £1.3million.
This year, the early indications show similar levels of visitors to Stockton town centre and the riverside; it is expected the final figures will be available shortly.
Cllr Dixon said: “We cannot underestimate the importance of events such as these for helping to maintain employment as well as providing confidence to businesses that Stockton is a great place to be.”
Festival goers turned to social media to express their delight and enjoyment of the Festival.
• One of THE most amazing finales SIRF has ever produced - Well Done, not even the rain could dampen the spirits @dennisbutler
• So proud that my home town puts on spectacular events like this. #sirf2013 @stocktoncouncil. Best one yet. @kathleitch
• Was last night a dream? #sirf13 @sirf2013 @Bobbie_Bailey
• @sirf2013 still absolutely buzzing after the most brilliant finale ever , how are you ever going to top that? #sirf2013 @denisebailey59
• Sirf was amazing this year ! The finale was spectacular and amazing and just perfect ! Thank you for an amazing 3 days !!! @x_em_taylor_x
• Cheers for a brilliant weekend @sirf2013! Everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful, & the shows were great! Perfect! #Stockton #sirf2013 @miss_knee
As ever, SIRF is committed to presenting the best national and international outdoor shows available, whether in street theatre, dance or circus with over sixteen premieres of new artistic work.
The finale parade ‘Les Girafes’ was performed by French artistic company, Compagnie Off.