Stockton International Riverside Festival returns

Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF)

The festival returned but this time it was bigger and better than the last.

Stockton International Riverside Festival known as SIRF usually takes place in late summer and lasts about four days. There is something for everyone and a whole weekend of fun you just can’t afford to miss out. It is in the town called Stockton-On-Tees in North East, England.  

Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF)

This year was even bigger as the festival hosted a huge party on Stockton’s Riverside to mark 30 years of SIRF. There was entertainment for both kids and the big kids alike, those who enjoy the artistic things in life and those that like to live in virtual reality. It was bigger and better than we’ve seen before!

I attended SIRF on the Saturday, as sadly couldn’t make other days due to other commitments. However, I believe I did pick the best day – even the sun was shinning! I started the day by watching SIRF Community Carnival as they celebrated 30 years in style. 

Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF)

The Carnival included local schools, young people, community groups as well as musicians, dancers and circus enthusiasts coming together in their costumes and party spirit. It was a great to see the community come together. It was great to see people from all different backgrounds, races and disabilities come together. 

I really enjoyed the spectacle and seeing all the fabulous costumes and creations made by our carnival participants and wonderful creative team. The creative team was made up of Apollo Arts, Creative Seed, Morwenna Catt, Sarah Riley, Shirley Wells, and Urban Kaos.  

This started at 12:00 in Stockton High street and finished at 16:30pm.  The carnival passed through the high street and lead back to the river. There was lots of people dancing and laid on the side having picnic. It was at that moment I seen Stockton for what it was, a great community with lots to offer.

cake ladies at SIRF17

When the carnival finished, I noticed the town centre was full of live music, activities and entertainment. I grabbed a programme booklet to have a look what else I could find and see.  

I came across the Cake ladies whom were dishing up sweet treats and adding glamour to the town of Stockton-On-Tees. They were beautifully costumed and seemed to be catching a lot of attention especially the children.  They had a glow to them and were very cheerful.  I managed to fight the crowds to capture a quick selfie before heading off for some food. 

Merry man at SIRF


After my lunch, I could hear someone rapping to  passers-by and crowds gathering. I went to look and this is when I discovered The Merry Maker. 

The Merry Maker is Artist Arji Manuelpillai. He presents one minute raps on his three wheeled trike. He certainly brought smiles for free while he freestyled around Stockton Town Centre. He interacted with passers-by with a personal rap on the spot. 

I decided to do some retail therapy while admiring what was going on. There was The Menageries (Bureau of silly ideas)  moving wheelie bins, VR playground, Reality Arcades and street performers. I decided that I would come back later to watch the show called Sodade.

sodade sirfSodade is a celebration of life told by two musicians and four circus artists who perform on a unique circus structure, comprising of two huge wheels over 2metre in diameter sodade at sirfeach endlessly un-winding a 21 metre long tightrope cable.

I was unsure what to expect as I had heard mixed reviews regarding the previous shows on the two nights beforehand. However, I was captivated by the performance around an endless cable with four moving bodies perfectly in balance. They entertained throughout and I hope to see them return to Stockton Town in the near future. 

Overall I really enjoyed my day and evening experiencing SIRF. I am really excited for next year and what it brings…

You can read about other events and keep updated on upcoming SIRF events here.


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  1. Sounds like a brillant weekend had by all. Great pictures too. I may have to visit Stockton next year for the next SIRF…

  2. The Stockton International Riverside Festival looks like so much fun. I love all the festivals the summer brings. I wish I was in the area so I could check it out.

  3. Sounds like an interesting festival. Plenty to see and do for the whole family! I’m sure my kids would love to go to this, something a little different.

  4. Oh my Lanta this looks like such an awesome Festival to attend! I’m going to have to come and check it out sometime.

  5. This looks like it was a wonderful day out. You’ve had amazing weather for it the whole weekend too! My nan lives near Stockton so we often go. I love wandering round the shops up there.

  6. I love festival eapecially when people are dressing up like crazy in different colors and shapes. I have always wished that I was one of them. Hopefully one day I get to wear those salsa dresses and shake my back!πŸ˜‚

  7. Oh my God, those cake ladies are beautiful!!!! I love festival culture, everyone is so happy and the energy is palpable! Especially for young artists, it can be a good time to shine and get the word out there! Great post!

  8. I always love to attend festivals as they give new meaning and energy to boring routine life. This festival with colorful salsa dresses, tall clowns and people showing stunts/shows are so worth watching. Hopefully I will attend any of them.

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