Festival close proved to be huge hit with spectators

Performers during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance
Performers during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance

Dancers from around the world took part in the final day of an international spectacular.

The farewell parade through Billingham Town Centre was watched by crowds of amazed shoppers, who all clapped and cheered at the exotic sights marking the end of the International Folklore Festival of World Dance.

Performers during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance

Performers during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance

The dancers, from countries including USA, the Philippines, Chile, Italy, Mexico, China, and Serbia, then moved to the main stage, where they performed the farewell gala concert.

The whole extravaganza, which is in its 51st year, was wrapped up, with a mini gala concert and the closing ceremony.

Festival director Olga Maloney, who was beckoned to the concert stage on the last day to receive a huge bouquet for her efforts, said: “It has been an emotional and exciting week for everybody involved in the festival.

“The audiences have been amazing and have shown great support.

Performers during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance

Performers during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance

“We are very proud to be able to bring such a prestigious and world-renowned event to the North East – it has been an honour once again.”

Olga, who has a background in ice skating and was the tour manager for skating stars Torvill and Dean and the Russian All Stars World Tour 1988-1991, added: “People of all ages have turned out and enjoyed the performances from the dancers, who have travelled thousands of miles, from all around the world to be here.

“The applause from the audiences has said it all.”

The festival has become a highlight of the region’s arts and culture calendar.

Performers during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance

Performers during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance

Core funding has come from Stockton Borough Council, while Arts Council England funded the contemporary elements.

Awards for All funded a programme to take the dancers into care homes in the area.