A HUGE smoke-breathing dragon will head through town today to mark the launch of the 2014 Basingstoke Festival.

Dragon Heart Beat's dragon, which is 18 feet tall, will begin its walk at the Banjo outside Debenhams at 12.45pm.

Accompanied by loud drums and colourful dancers, it will move up Wote Street to The Willis Museum, in Market Place, for a 1pm performance of approximately 20 minutes.

The dragon will be joined by members of Basingstoke’s North Hampshire Academy of Dance, who will perform a specially-choreographed piece. This launch performance will be repeated at 5.30pm in Market Square on the same day.

The third Basingstoke Festival, boasting a programme of more than 100 events, will run from June 20 until July 13.

Dragon Heart Beat will return to the town for the Festival's family weekend on Sunday, June 29.

Find out more about what’s going on in the festival by going online to basingstokefestival.co.uk.