Toggle menu

SIRF18: Five highlights to enjoy at this year's festival

29 June 2018

World premieres, a cycle-powered carousel and Spanish holographic theatre - it can only mean the return of Stockton International Riverside Festival!

Image of SIRF 18 highlights

SIRF18 will take place from Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 August. It will bring more than 150 international circus, dance and theatre shows to the Borough, making it the festival's largest ever programme.

Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Arts, Culture and Leisure, said: "SIRF is always an exciting highlight on our events calendar and this year we present our biggest ever programme, packed full of performances which will intrigue, entertain and leave festival goers with a smile on their faces.

"It's one of the UK's best outdoor arts and street theatre festival and it's free so don't miss out! From awe-inspiring theatre and circus to beautifully choreographed dance from around the world, there will be something for everyone to see, experience and enjoy."

This year's highlights include:

LAUNCH NIGHT - This is Not for You
Thursday 2 August, 8.30pm
Stockton High Street North

This year's festival opens with an epic new show by Graeae Theatre Company, whose Artistic Director co-directed the London Paralympic opening show.

This is Not for You is an epic outdoor performance which pays moving tribute to Britain's wounded war veterans, men and women whose contributions to history often go unnoticed. The piece is performed by Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, professional performers and local community choir, and is part of 14-18 NOW, the UK's arts programme for the First World War centenary.

This Is Not for You is a free but ticketed performance. Tickets will be available from

WORLD PREMIERE - The Glass Ceiling
Friday 3 and Saturday 4 August, 10pm

Trinity Green

SIRF favourites Periplum return with The Glass Ceiling, an ambitious new visual theatre work marking 100 years since the first British women were given the right to vote.

Inspired by the Suffragettes and Suffragists, the show celebrates activists from the Tees Valley region whose courage propelled this historic movement to achieve political recognition.

Sensory, spectacular and uplifting, this performance uses innovative staging, pyrotechnic design, new music, writing and aerial performance in a gritty depiction of the struggle to gain the vote and break through a glass ceiling.

The show will premiere at SIRF and tour the Tees Valley in autumn.

Performances for all the family
Friday 3 August - Sunday 5 August, various times
Trinity Green

Trinity Green in Stockton will be home to a selection of exciting family-friendly performances.

Visitors of all ages can see an interactive, holographic puppet show by Spanish artists Holoque, watch Hikapee's beautiful collaboration of circus, puppetry and theatre which celebrates our natural surroundings, and see two special shows by Without Walls commission, A Bird in the Hand, including The Bewonderment Machine - a cycle-powered carousel providing a magical journey for small children.

Performances of these acts and more will take place throughout the festival.

Community Carnival
Saturday 4 August, 12noon

Stockton High Street and Riverside

The must-see SIRF Community Carnival will explode onto Stockton High Street in a blaze of colour and sound on Saturday 4 August. 

This year's theme of Reach for the Stars will see schools, young people, community groups, musicians, dance and circus enthusiasts celebrate memorable moments in history since some women were granted the right to vote 100 years ago.

The carnival will shine a light on some of the achievements in art, film, technology, science, aviation and sport which inspired and shaped the world today as well as exploring what young people hope to achieve in the future.

FINALE - Going Out with a Bang!
Sunday 5 August, 10pm
Stockton Riverside

SIRF18 will end with a stunning display by pyrotechnic experts, Lightfires.

From the harsh impact of war to a colourful celebration of peace, haunting vocals and sirens, powerful percussion will burst on the banks of the River Tees. The show builds with dramatic pace and scale to a spectacular full-throttle finale. 

SIRF is supported by Arts Council England and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.