A circus troupe and a breath-taking aerial show opened SIRF 15 last night.
Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Tees as flamboyant circus performers arrived in Stockton by boat and led the audience along the Riverside to see an astonishing trapeze act.
Artists from French company, CirkVOST performed on an extraordinary structure made of more than 350 bamboo poles.
Among the enthralled audience was Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Peter Bazalgette. He said: “SIRF, one of our National portfolio organisations, is exceptionally successful in attracting local and regional audiences and I’m delighted to be at the opening of the festival this year when it is set against the newly regenerated Stockton Town Centre.
“SIRF is an ambitious and significant outdoor arts festival and provides a platform for national and international work of real quality – it is a festival the town should be very proud of.”
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Norma Wilburn, added: “Anyone who saw BoO last night could not fail to be amazed - what a breath-taking start to this year’s SIRF!
“It was the perfect opening to SIRF 15 which will tell the story of Instant Light – the magical tale of how Stockton became a festival town. Last night’s audience saw the circus troupe arrive and throughout the weekend they will see the story unfold in several episodes performed by more than 100 acts from right across the world.
“The newly regenerated Stockton Town Centre is the perfect backdrop so what better time to come and visit?”
Performances will take place from 11am until late on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
SIRF is supported by Arts Council England - to see the latest news and full festival programme, visit the SIRF website at www.sirf.co.uk