Bumper Year for Summer In Southside Festival as Countryside Fun Comes to Brum
Sheep-racing through the streets of Southside, Maypole Dancing with a contemporary twist, a farm constructed entirely from cardboard and a 'clucking' chorus line of ballet-dancing chickens...these were just some of the highlights from this year's scorching Summer in Southside festival which took place at Birmingham Hippodrome on Sat 17 & Sun 18 June.
Produced by Birmingham Hippodrome, this year's Summer in Southside festival saw an estimated 15,000 people flock to Southside on the hottest weekend of the year so far for two full-days of free, family-friendly activities inspired by the great outdoors and featuring over 120 performance artists from as far afield as Russia, India and Tanzania.
Seeing Summer in Southside off in signature style on the Saturday and Sunday at 5.30pm, visitors at this year's event were treated to a live Sheep Race through Hurst Street culminating in Hippodrome Square and featuring six of the UKs rarest pure breeds.
Quick surveys over the weekend revealed that 66% of respondents were first time attendees of Summer in Southside with a further 73% of those surveyed stating that their perception of Birmingham had improved because of the event.
Graham Callister, Director of Creative Programmes at Birmingham Hippodrome, said: 'We are absolutely delighted with what has been an incredible response to this year's Summer in Southside Festival. Working with some amazing national and internationally respected artists, performers and partners, the event brought huge numbers of participants and new audiences to the district through a mix of free performances and events inspired by the sights and sounds of the countryside.
This year's festival saw Hippodrome Square transformed into a temporary Village Green complete with Dog and Duck Show, live music and dance and a host of colourful countryside characters including Artizani's Farmer Giles, Coventry-based theatre company The Fabularium and West Bromwich Bhangra outfit The Lions of Punjab.
Visitors to The Arcadian were treated to live performances from Folk Dance Remixed, a colourful and quirky collision of maypole, clog dancing, breakin' and street dance, the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band, The Jockey Morris Men and Birmingham-based mega-folk band - The Destroyers.
Russian visual-artists Cardboardia were also on hand to entertain crowds in Ladywell Walk with their amazing cardboard farmyard display complete with animals, fences and tools with the opportunity for audiences to create their own cardboard sculptures inspired by their favourite country-scape.
This year's festival also featured a special performance of 'The Chicken Dance' from La Fille mal Gardée by resident partners Birmingham Royal Ballet. They were joined by Tanzanian dance troupe The Black Eagles with a crowd-pleasing acrobatic routine set to a lively soundtrack of African music and Rogue Play with an aerial routine set to a soundscape of storytelling and music.
Sunday saw the Hippodrome's foyers transformed beyond recognition with free activities, arts and crafts, miniature petting farm and a costume exhibition from Birmingham Royal Ballet whilst VR experts from Freemotely and South and City College were also on hand to guide visitors through the landscapes of virtual reality.
Alongside a jam-packed programme of live events, festival-goers enjoyed Vintage Fairground rides and games including traditional swing-boats, coconut shy and hook-a-duck, animal-themed face-painting and a mobile brasserie serving freshly made crepes, galettes, gourmet burgers, ice creams and barista coffee.
Summer in Southside is part of Birmingham Hippodrome Creative. Over the past three years, Birmingham Hippodrome Creative has reached over 300,000 people through the delivery of major outdoor festivals and events that celebrate our city and region such as Birmingham Weekender, B-Side Hip-Hop Festival and Summer in Southside. Through Hippodrome CREATIVE, the Hippodrome provides a range of learning opportunities for young people and local communities to get involved, often working with vulnerable groups to support accessible performances for our disabled patrons. For more information, visit https://www.birminghamhippodrome.com/hippodrome-creative/.
Photo credit: Simon Hadley