Blaze of colour on Durham streets

The Mighty Gareth entertains visitors to Durham in the city's Millenium Place as part of the Durham Streets Summer Festival.
The Mighty Gareth entertains visitors to Durham in the city's Millenium Place as part of the Durham Streets Summer Festival.
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A BLAZE of colour and sound hit Durham’s streets at the weekend.

For the seventh year running The Durham Streets Festival saw acts from across the globe display the weird and wonderful in venues around the city.

Ten street theatre groups performed at Millennium Place, on Palace Green, and in Market Place, and more acts gave “off-street” performances in venues such as restaurants and cafes.

On Saturday, the entertainment started with a nerve-racking performance by magician The Mighty Gareth, whose talents include sword swallowing.

The daredevil was followed by Ghanaian acrobatic group Fanti Acrobats, who wowed the enthralled the crowd with an impressive show of fire-eating and contortion.

The festival, which has pulled in acts from across Europe and as far as Australia, attracted about 30,000 visitors from the North East and further afield, including Yorkshire and Northumberland.

Chief executive of tourism management agency Visit County Durham, Melanie Sensicle, said the festival, which follows on from Brass: Durham International Festival, is now one of the city’s main events.

“Where else in the North East can you see a festival dedicated to this type of street entertainment?” She said.

“This year is probably Durham’s biggest year when it comes to cultural activity, and it will carry on to the end of the year.

“The Street Festival had really good reviews from people. It has grown in popularity and scope every year.”

Funded by Durham County Council, the circus-style entertainment was started to “animate” the city streets over the bank holiday weekend.

Organiser and festival events manager, Kate James, said the performances, including those by returning acts such as outdoor theatre and circus performer George Orange, is constantly developing.”

She added it was the first year the festival had expanded into other areas of the county, with more to be added in future following its successful visit the Teesdale area, the grand finale of the celebration held in Palace Green because of the Lindisfarne Gospels Exhibition being hosted at Durham University Library during the summer.

She added the festival, headlined by the science fiction-inspired, aerial circus performers La Ballade de Bergerac, on Saturday, is attracting a returning set of visitors each year.

“The performers always invite children to take part in their acts,” she said.

“And while we have new visitors come each year, there are familiar faces who come to Durham year-after-year to see the shows.

“It’s really good, a fantastic atmosphere, and the acts and audiences are brilliant.”