Stockton International Riverside Festival returning with packed programme and dramatic launch

The SIRF Carnival Parade will take place on Stockton High Street
-Credit: (Image: Stockton Council)

The world-renowned Stockton International Riverside Festival returns this summer, with plenty of fun and excitement for all the family.

The completely free outdoor arts and street theatre festival will once again be wowing crowds in Stockton town centre with a jam-packed programme from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 August. SIRF 24 brings together some of the finest street theatre, dance, music and arts from across the globe, with more than 120 shows taking place over the weekend for all ages.

A dramatic launch show on Friday will see Mécanique Vivante returning to the UK for the first time in 35 years to thrill audiences with their musical inventions and dream machines in The Sirens’ Song. The world’s only Siren orchestra will rumble round Stockton High Street, drawing the audience like a modern-day Pied Piper, before being joined for the show’s crescendo by virtuoso soloists and performers for an unforgettable show at 9.30pm.

The Sirens are two phenomenal structures made from former air raid sirens by inventor Franz Clochard, repurposed to play rhythmic music. But before that there’s plenty to enjoy on the High Street, Parish Gardens and Green Dragon Yard from 1pm, including Farm Yard Circus, Roar Race sound powered tricycle racing (where kids really do go faster the louder they scream), and River of Hope which features stunning environmental artwork from schools across the region.

OSADÍA returns this year for the 30th anniversary of their first ever SIRF performance of WHOSE HAIR DARES! Watch as OSADÍA create original exhibition worthy hair sculptures, with audience members being transformed into living, breathing works of art, on the High Street at 1.45pm and 5.45pm on the Friday and Saturday.

SIRF Green will once again be the space to go for tasty eats and garden seats. Open daily during the festival from 12pm - 10.30pm in Bishop Street Car Park, SIRF Green is the perfect place to sit and chat with family and friends and grab some affordable food and drink from street traders. You'll be able to enjoy performances throughout the day of unmissable live entertainment, with Red Herring Productions Silent Disco, and Working Boys Club cabin serving Beats not Beer!

The SIRF Community Carnival remains a highlight on Sunday afternoon at 2pm, boasting a staggering 750 participants, artists and musicians. This year Urban Kaos will be on the Plinth Stage inviting you to join in a joy filled ‘Discoquarium’, a disco party of underwater creatures, glitter bugs and disco balls.

Then visitors and carnival-goers can stick around and party, enjoying more family fun, including workshops, live music, dance and live shows before the amazing SIRF finale at 9.30pm.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “As always SIRF will transform Stockton town centre into a theatrical feast of fun and wonder with hundreds of colourful and exciting performances - giving our residents and visitors plenty of opportunity to celebrate and bringing communities together.

“Performers this year hail from as far and wide as Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Estonia and the USA, and of course the Tees Valley and wider North East region. With SIRF we aim to create a magical and unmissable experience for everyone who attends - and our advice is simple, catch the big shows, catch the small stuff, come early and stay late!

“And after enjoying three days of family entertainment make sure not to miss Sunday's truly spectacular aerial finale, Between Realms by Fidget Feet, Ireland's national company for aerial arts, and Sound De Secà (Catalonia), at 9.30pm on the High Street’s North Car Park and Plinth Stage.

“All of the SIRF programme is completely free for audiences to experience, but two shows this year are ticketed - Chad Taylor Closer To My Dreams and Red Herring Productions Silent Disco. Tickets are free and available to collect each day two hours before the start of each show from SIRF Central in the Enjoy Stockton-on-Tees shop at 134b High Street. SIRF 24 promises to be another truly memorable festival, so keep your diary free from August 2 to August 4!”

To view the full SIRF 24 line-up, pick up a copy of the programme from Enjoy Stockton-on-Tees Visitor Information on Stockton High Street, any of Stockton's libraries, or visit

For breaking news in your area direct to your inbox every day, go here to sign up to our free newsletter