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From heart-stopping aerial acrobatics to the Community Carnival: Five SIRF highlights you don't want to miss!

21 July 2022
Tiled pic showing artists and performers at SIRF 2022 and young woman at carnival

Tiled pic showing artists and performers at SIRF 2022 and young woman at carnival

Prepare to be dazzled and delighted - the countdown to Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) 2022 has begun!

The world-renowned festival returns this summer for the 35th time, promising a jam-packed programme over four free unmissable days from Thursday 4 to Sunday 7 August.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture, said: "It just wouldn't be summer without SIRF - and we can't wait to welcome back the Borough's signature event after a two year hiatus due to Covid.

"And what a return it promises to be for our hugely popular festival which, as always, offers a wealth of entertainment for all the family!   

"With over 150 performances throughout to entertain, intrigue and excite residents and visitors, there really is something for everybody over the four days of this free major event.

"This year's SIRF is going to be truly memorable, with a wide variety of street theatre, dance, music, digital arts and circus, as well as breath-taking aerial acrobatics, to make your SIRF experience something special. You don't want to miss it!"


Here's just five of the highlights at SIRF 2022:

Launch night - TAWA, by Gratte Ciel

Thursday 4 August, 7.30pm

Stockton Riverside

This year's festival launches in dramatic fashion with the joy and thrill of French company Gratte Ciel's large scale spectacle, Tawa.

As live music fills the air, aerialists and acrobats will spin in a spectacular explosion of colour on Stockton's Riverside with incredible acts of human strength and resilience.

SIRF is committed to creating an environmentally friendly festival. The paper explosions that are used at the event are 100% biodegradable and some will be repurposed by SIRF Carnival artists in 2023. Gratte Ciel will also be planting tree saplings in Stockton-on-Tees to offset the weight of the paper used in the show.


Tees Barrage International Showcase

Thursday 4 August to Saturday 6 August

In partnership with Canal and River Trust, we are delighted to present a special international showcase at Tees Barrage to celebrate the charity's 10th Anniversary.

Catch four fantastic events at the venue including Harmonic Fields, by Lieux Publics, an ambitious installation of 500 wind instruments, creating a fantastic and unique musical experience for audiences as they navigate through the landscape. Enjoy it at the Barrage on Thursday 4 August, Friday 5 August & Saturday 6 August, 1pm to 7pm.

Revel in Envol, by Entre Terre Et Ciel, a dramatic journey through dance, music and fire on Friday 5 August and Saturday 6 August at 9.30pm. This spectacular show, created around the symbol of the tree, invites us to celebrate the beauty of life.

Join Canal & River Trust for Brilliant Barrage on Thursday 4 August & Friday 5 August, 1pm to 4.30pm. Family fun activities include seal mask making, seal spotting and pond dipping. Budding engineers will enjoy the bridge building challenge and guided tours of the Barrage control room which will take place on the hour, every hour. Activities are free to take part, no booking required.

Why not walk from Stockton Town Centre to the Barrage or back so you can enjoy all on offer there? There is an accessible walk which can be accessed via the Riverside. The route, which takes approximately 15 mins, is signposted and is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.


Within Without, by Limbic Cinema and Full Tilt Aerial

Friday 5 August & Saturday 6 August, 10pm & 10.45pm

Free but ticketed. Tickets available from SIRF Central at 3pm each day

Trinity Church

Within Without is an immersive multimedia performance that explores visceral and personal articulations of safe and sacred space.

Trinity Church will be transformed into a cathedral of light, texture and movement, with audiences enveloped in a 360-degree canvas of projected animations which augment the church in rhythm with the dancers' movements.

The performance has been developed exclusively for SIRF by a creative team including Limbic Cinema, Full Tilt Aerial and South Korean composers Salamanda.

Due to the nature of the building this show isn't full accessible, however a full 360 film of the show will be showcased, along with a documentary about the making of the piece as part of the SIRF Digital programme until August 31.  


Carnival Parade - Everything Under the Sun

Sunday 7 August, 2pm

Stockton High Street to Riverside

The much-loved SIRF Community Carnival returns to Stockton High Street on 7 August, moving to Sunday for a full day of carnival fun!

The Carnival will start at 2pm with its usual colourful procession and will see hundreds of young people, adults, community members, musicians and street performers dance and sing their way along Stockton High Street in a sea of colour and music.

The vibrant procession will then make its way through the town centre to the Riverside where celebrations will continue throughout the day with a programme full of live music, dance and family entertainment.


SIRF finale - Mobil Homme, by Transe Express

Sunday 7 August, 9.30pm


French troop Transe Express bring off-beat rhythmic drumming to the Riverside to draw the Festival to a close in true SIRF style!

A line of vibrant drummers will lead the evening ending in a spectacular finale as a giant-sized mobile lifts up in to the night sky to showcase a beautiful trapeze performance. Pa-Boom will then light the night sky with a dramatic burst of pyrotechnics bringing Mobil Homme and SIRF22 to a glorious end!


SIRF is supported by Arts Council England.

For all the latest information visit the SIRF website.