Festival set to be biggest yet

Members of the Belarus dance party at last year's Billingham International Folklore Festival
Members of the Belarus dance party at last year's Billingham International Folklore Festival

THE Olympics is not the only place to see people from all over the world come together this summer.

This weekend hundreds of musicians and dancers from all corners of the globe will come to the North-East for a colourful annual folk festival.

The 48th Billingham International Folklore Festival starts on Saturday when participating groups will take part in a parade through the town.

The festival is due to be bigger than ever this year after a generous lottery grant through Arts Council England has allowed organisers to broaden its scope beyond Billingham to the whole region.

It has also been awarded the Inspire mark by the London 2012 Inspire programme which recognises innovative projects that are directly inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Festival director, Joe Maloney, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the Inspire Mark and for the Festival to be recognised and associated with London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“All of the changes we are making to the festival would not be possible without the help and cooperation of the small band of volunteers, who work for the festival year round.”

Organisers say the line-up means there will be something for everyone as dance companies from across the globe and the UK showcase a variety of dance styles from traditional multi-cultural dances to contemporary dance companies.

This year the festival is extending its programme of concerts and workshops to include modern dance and working with schools in the run up to Saturday’s opening ceremony.

The eight-day event celebrates the diversity and richness of traditional cultures from all over the world by bringing together over 300 dancers, musicians, singers and craftsmen.

Groups from Chile, Colombia, Guadeloupe, Hawaii, Indonesia, North Cyprus, Romania, Russia and UK will all feature.

Festival concerts will take place at the specially constructed arenas in Billingham Town Centre, Forum Theatre, Middlesbrough Theatre and Arc Arts Centre in Stockton.

There will also be street performances, dance and music workshops and a Uncle BIFF Children’s Club.

For full details and a timetable call the festival office on (01642) 553220 or visit the website www.billinghamfestival.co.uk