BASINGSTOKE Festival is returning tonight, kicking off with a colourful parade through the town centre.

Running from Friday, June 23 till Sunday, July 9, the family-friendly festival will feature a total of 15 national shows performed outdoors in streets and parks.

Audiences will have the opportunity to experience and take part in outdoor dance, circus and street theatre performances in unusual places.

The festival will start with a parade through the town centre on Friday, June 23, with more than 500 young people and community performers, produced by Fluid Motion Theatre Company. The theme of the parade this year is ‘Flourish – being the best you can be’.

Join in the celebrations and soak up the party atmosphere from 5.30pm at the Top of Town, then follow the parade route down to the Amphitheatre by Wetherspoons for the big finale - the family-friendly “positivity rave”.

Throughout the next three weekends, there is a programme of more than 50 indoor and community events taking place during the festival.

One of national shows being performed this year is Look Mum, No Hands from Daryl and Co. and Mimbre. This is tender story about friendship and growing up and explores the idea of independence versus interdependence, vulnerability and strength, using striking physical imagery. The performance takes advantage of the fact that one of the characters uses a wheelchair to create original and unexpected acrobatic shapes and choreographies.

The Place will present The album: skool edition by SAY, an outdoor dance show celebrating the joy and innocence of making up dances to exciting new music. Combining fast-paced and slick contemporary routines to new music, including tracks with UK beatbox champion MC Zani and alternative pop artist Naomi Banks, this is an interactive show created specifically for kids and their families.

A show which will engage all the senses, Eau de Memoire from Francesca Baglione, as Miss High Leg Kick, will be interactive and fun, celebrating the rich experiences and memories evoked by our sense of smell.

The festival will also be supporting home-grown local talent. This includes Proteus Theatre Company performing Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Fluid Motion premiering a new show The Greatest Show on Earth, where audiences will be able to immerse themselves in the natural world to improve wellbeing. Scratchbuilt Productions’ The Fairy Finders Trail will take audiences through town centre green spaces on a magical adventure and Junk Jodie’s new show for children SEA-TACULAR will highlight the importance of protecting seas and rivers from plastic pollution.

Basingstoke Festival is a partner in Without Walls, working with festivals and artists and bringing outdoor arts to people across the UK.

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