Monsters, Myths and Magic

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South Tyneside Festival
Packed with energy, music, colour and performances from a host of professional carnival artists, this year’s programme proves, once again, that the Summer Parade is set to be one of the highlights of the South Tyneside Festival

It’s time to get into the carnival spirit as the Summer Parade returns to South Tyneside on Saturday 30th June – celebrating the height of summer in the biggest event of its kind in the North East. Visitors will be enchanted by a cavalcade of magnificent monsters and magical mysteries, as ancient myths are brought to life through a procession of vibrant costumes, dancers, floats and special performances that will culminate in a breathtaking performance of the Greek legend of Icarus at Bents Park. 

One of the highlights of the South Tyneside Festival, the Summer Parade gets bigger and better every year, with the 2018 line-up – based around the theme of Monsters, Myths and Magic – set to be the most exciting yet. Glittering fairies, flaming phoenixes, sparkling unicorns and a magnificent magical carriage will dazzle onlookers as the extravagantly-decorated floats make their way along the parade route. Marching bands, stilt walkers and dance troupes will also be mixed in among the procession to really help bring the magical folktales to life. 

Embarking from South Shields Town Hall at 1pm and making its way along Ocean Road before arriving at the seafront, the parade will wend its way to Bents Park – where there will be a range of live music, entertainment and magical activities for the whole family to enjoy all afternoon. 

This will be a three-hour extravaganza, but the hard work preparing the parade has been going on for months. Husband and wife Garner and Sandy Harris, working together as The Creative Seed, are the team who make sure that the event goes off without a hitch. The pair met in 1992, when Garner was working as a dancer and Sandy as a costume supervisor on the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express. 

They’re now part of a 14-person team (including their daughter and son), and have called in expertise from around the world to ensure that the parade is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all those who see it. 

The parade will have five sections that have been separated based on their colour scheme – white and silver; black and gold; red, orange and gold; pink and turquoise; and neon. Each section will interpret the theme of Monsters, Myths and Magic in their own way – headed by their unique magical monster. As well as a double-headed unicorn and a moving phoenix, there will also be the fluorescent plant from the Little Shop of Horrors and a magical winged carriage driven by fairies. Involving a mix of professional artists and around 2,000 parade walkers, these incredible structures festooned with a vibrant array of colour and special effects will truly bring creatures that we once believed were only in myths and legends to life.  

‘This year we’ve got bigger structures, more floats, massive sound systems, more guest artists and groups from all over the country,’ says Garner, ‘so it’s going to be a lot of sound, a lot of colour – it’s certainly going to be a spectacle!’ 

The Summer Parade 2018 combines acting, dance, and magnificent mechanical structures to create a stunning showcase along the seafront. The climax of this year’s event is the open-air performance of Icarus at Bents Park, told in a hybrid language of choreography and puppetry brought to South Tyneside by Robby Graham of Southpaw Dance Company, and Gyre and Gimble’s Finn Caldwell. 

Icarus is an interpretation of the classic legend about the son of Daedalus, who attempted to escape from Crete by flying with artificial wings made by his father. Icarus was a production born from Robby and Finn’s previous collaborative project, Angels in America, which was showcased at the National Theatre in London. The 16-foot puppeteered wings that came out of this project will help Icarus take to the skies with daring physicality, leaps, jumps, flips, dance and rousing dialogue. Audiences will be left white-knuckled and rooted to the spot as, against all advice, Icarus continues to raise the stakes higher and higher in his bid to soar through the clouds. It’s a gripping performance that will enthral audiences of all ages from beginning to end. 

The Summer Parade is just one in a captivating calendar of events being held in the area this summer, all as part of the South Tyneside Festival – a three-month programme of family-friendly events, activities, entertainment and open-air concerts. Bringing some of the biggest names in entertainment to South Tyneside, it’s a major cultural happening that’s not to be missed. 

Monsters, myths and magic play a part in some of the the most captivating stories we experience in our formative years and live with us forever. So whether you’re a fan of fables, wild about witchcraft or mad about monsters, there’s something for everyone in this riot of colour, music, song and dance that attracts visitors and participants from around the world. To make sure you don’t miss a single step of the proceedings, line up along the route and cheer as all the sights, sounds and incredible atmosphere of South Tyneside Summer Parade sweeps past in a whirlwind of energy and colour. It’s an unmissable date on the cultural calendar. 

Fun in the Park

All points of the parade route are just a few minutes’ walk from the finish point at Bents Park – on South Shields seafront – where there will be a fantastic afternoon of free fun for all the family to enjoy, before the grand finale performance of Icarus. Take a selfie with the amazing parade floats, come and meet a giant dragon and his knight, and enjoy the music, refreshments, activities and entertainment before being transported to Ancient Greece for a captivating performance that tells the legend of the boy who famously flew too close to the sun. This magical showcase will enchant from start to finish.

Published in: June 2018

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