Golden festival

Armenian dancers perform during at Billingham Folk Festival
Armenian dancers perform during at Billingham Folk Festival

A TOWN is getting ready to welcome thousands of visitors for its annual celebration of music and dance from around the world.

The Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

This year’s festival starts tomorrow with a parade of nations and opening concert in the town centre.

Throughout the week, visitors from across the globe will give concerts and workshops at venues all over the region.

Olga Maloney, artistic director for the festival, said: “The event programme promises to be bigger and better than ever before, as performers will be bringing an extra special international flavour to Tees Valley.

“There’s music, dance theatre, workshops, street parades and concerts, all aimed at providing the ultimate festival experience.

“It’s always wonderful to see so many nationalities represented throughout the Festival, as it makes for a superb cultural extravaganza.”

This year Billingham will play host to visitors from Chile, Cook Islands, Georgia, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, North Cyprus,

Russia, South Korea, Spain and Thailand.

Numerous home-grown groups from across the UK will also take part including the Newton Aycliffe Pipe Band and Billingham’s own fracture theatre.

And after the football carnival that was the World Cup, the Elements Arts Company from Brazil will provide some amazing Latin American and Brazilian contemporary dance during the festival.

The festival enjoys support from Arts Council England, Stockton Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

There will be a host of free and paid for events in Billingham and further afield.

Tomorrow’s parade of nations is free to watch and sets off from Northfield School to Billingham town centre at 1.45pm.

Seats for the opening ceremony are £10 and £2 for children under 12.