BILLINGHAM town centre became the focal point for teams of international dance groups on Saturday when the parade of nations kick-started the festival.

For the next week, performers from around the world are taking part in the 55th Billingham International Folklore which celebrates cultural diversity and traditional dance.

The colourful parade of nations launched the week-long event ahead of performance at venues in the area including the festival arena in Billingham town centre, Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt, the ARC in Stockton and Darlington town centre.

The festival programme has been devised by Artistic Director Olga Maloney and Balbir Singh of Balbir Singh Dance Company.

Ms Maloney said the festival has something for everyone.

She said: “This year is extra special as we are dedicating our Follow your Dreams theme to the legendary figure skater John Curry, who was one of the leading skaters of his generation in what would’ve been his seventieth year.

"The shows being devised and performed in his honour will have audiences in awe of the skills being portrayed. We well and truly have something for everyone, don’t miss out."

The Creative Spirit of John Curry will enjoy its world premiere performances at Billingham Forum Ice Arena on August 16 and 17.

For all ticket information including prices, times, locations, workshop details visit

The website also contains a box office facility where people can book their festival tickets. Alternatively, people can call the Festival office on 01642-553220.