High-wire walkers plan tightrope act - across the River Wear!

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Get ready for an event which has never been seen anywhere else in the world.

That’s the message to the hundreds of thousands of people who will be on Wearside for the Sunderland leg of The Tall Ships Races this summer.

High-wire walker Phoebe Bullzini and Chris Bullzini to traverse the River Wear as part of The Tall Ships Races Sunderland.

High-wire walker Phoebe Bullzini and Chris Bullzini to traverse the River Wear as part of The Tall Ships Races Sunderland.

They will get to see high-wire walkers crossing the River Wear on a 700ft-long tightrope. And that’s just one part of the spectacular live entertainment which has been announced announced for July.

Actors, musicians and dancers will entertain people in event zones across the city.

It’s all part of a programme which has been funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Cirque Bijou, who are renowned for their spectacular shows, will deliver the dazzling high-wire performance on Friday, July 13, when three artists will walk across the Wear.

Artistic Director of Cirque Bijou, Billy Alwen, said: “We are bringing some of the finest wire walkers in Europe together with a local ensemble of singers and dancers to produce a unique show telling stories of Sunderland’s connection to the sea.”

As a company, we have not done a river crossing. This will be the first crossing of a river on high wire in history

Flo Fitzgerald

The Wear will be turned into a river of light, sound and spectacular sights this summer.

Three high-wire walkers will cross a 700ft-long and 100ft-high rope over the river - at night-time on July 13.

While all that happens in the air, a choir of local singers will be performing rousing melodies from the Wearmouth Bridge. And below them, a fleet of little boats will sail up the river, each filled with people carrying illuminated umbrellas.

Cirque Bijou creative producer Flo Fitzgerald said: “As a company, we have not done a river crossing. This will be the first crossing of a river on high wire in history.”

High-wire walker Chris Bullzini.

High-wire walker Chris Bullzini.

High wire walker Chris Bullzini said he was feeling “a mixture of excitement and anticipation” about the Sunderland event.

Sunderland City Council’s Head of Events, Victoria French said: “It is definitely unique and something we have not seen before in Sunderland.

“It is going to make for an awesome visual show and what we have seen, with three months to go, is one small part of the tall ships cultural programme.”

National and international entertainment is planned for Sunderland, featuring music, dance and circus artists and culminating in an epic, large scale performance from Cirque Bijou on Friday night.”

Billy Alwen, Artistic Director of Cirque Bijou.

Billy Alwen, Artistic Director of Cirque Bijou.

Local artists Emma Bloomfield, Sophie Lisa Beresford, Penella Bee and Thomas Potts will perform throughout the event as part of the ‘Wearside Emerging’ project.

Programme Producer for The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018, Helen Green, said: “We are delighted that, as part of the wider Tall Ships Cultural Programme, we are able to offer opportunities to local artists to take part in the festival.

“We have offered commissions to four Sunderland artists who will pop up in areas around the event zones.

“They range from breath taking trapeze performance to street dance, music to strolling theatre - and expect a surprise here and there.”

Cirque Bijou in action. Photo by Andrew Billington.

Cirque Bijou in action. Photo by Andrew Billington.

Flo Fitzgerald, creative producer for Cirque Bijou.

Flo Fitzgerald, creative producer for Cirque Bijou.