As it all begins, free festivals say ‘thank you’

Internationally renowned street performers CircoRumBaba bring L'Hotel  to Hebden Bridge Arts Festival
Internationally renowned street performers CircoRumBaba bring L'Hotel to Hebden Bridge Arts Festival

The cream of international and local talent top the bill on fun packed days of free street entertainment over the next two weekends.

The street festivals have been organised by Hebden Bridge Arts Festival as a free gift to the town for their support during the ten day event.

Festival Director Helen Meller said: “Without the good will of local people, and the tireless efforts of our team of volunteers, there would be no festival, so these two days of quality free street fun is our way of saying thanks. It didn’t escape our notice that Le Tour is coming through town so the Le Grand’Party will make sure the thousands who will descend on our town for the race will leave with a big smile on their faces after seeing some of our amazing acts.”

Street Sundae on Sunday June 29 takes over St George’s Square, the Town Hall, the Marina and the wavy duck steps offering freshly whipped scoops of some of the UK’s most mouth-watering performers, topped off with lashings of local talent too.

Bell and Bullock’s Cabin Fever will be contributing maritime mayhem, magic and mirth, singing nun Musical Ruth will be hitting the low notes and Artizani’s Desert Island Discs makes a welcome return with his classic, clowning castaway show.

Local acts joining in the mayhem include Hebden Bridge Junior Brass band, all-female morris team the Hillie Millies, Calder Valley Youth Theatre, young hoofers from the Helen Wilman School of Dance and Calder Valley Voices. The Poetry Bike, made by poet Peter Sansom and artists Jude Wadley, with the children of Riverside, Central Street and Stubbing schools will also be taken for a spin.

The Street Sundae will also be showcasing three band new shows commissioned by the Yorkshire Festival 2014 as part of Le Tour’s commitment to the county’s artistic community.

Le Grand Voyage is a chance to star in your own virtual Tour De France as you saddle up, don some goggles, headphones and join in the race without ever leaving the Town Hall where it is being staged. Cart Before Horse is a short outdoor performance by Hebden Bridge-based Stumbledance Circus as a trick cycle and a bespoke cart structure muddle their way through the streets getting almost exactly nowhere.

Street Sundae concludes with Bike Story in Calder Homes Park, written by award-winning Mike Kenny, based on cycling stories collected from around God’s Own County especially for the show.

The festival’s youth team are running a talent show as part of #yourfest, supported by major local employers Thomson Reuters, in Calder Holmes Park on Saturday 28 June. The winners will go onto take part in the Street Sundae programme.

Every household in Hebden Bridge will be putting up family and friends as the world’s biggest race comes through town and the festival team have created Grand D’Party in the Square and Town hall to give them something to do on Saturday 5 July from 4pm to 8pm.

Thomson Reuters are also Grand D’Party’s sponsors and their generosity has helped the festival book of Europe’s top acts to come to Yorkshire including the Aereostiers who’ve travelled all the way from France on a cold air balloon searching for the Grand Depart.

Internationally renowned street performers CircoRumBaba bring L’Hotel telling the story of the smallest hotel in the world and there’s a chance to see the spectacular metamorphosis of man and a 6ft green balloon from top family entertainer Bruce Airhead.

There’s a family Cajun Celidh in the square with the Last Chance Saloon Band, an accordion-music-filled French café for foodies, cheese tasting, wine supping, face painting, flag making and many other surprises a la Francais.

The Arts Festival kicks off on Friday June 27 with former Radio 1 DJ Andy Kershaw’s first DJ set for a decade at the Trades Club, and the opening of a retrospective exhibition of Hebden Bridge photos by the legendary Martin Parr in the Town Hall.

There are still limited tickets available from the Town Hall Box Office, which is open every day, for comedian Simon Amstell, noise provocateurs The Tiger Lillies and Hebden Bridge Shorts.