THIS year's Basingstoke Festival kicked off with a range of activities and free street events throughout the town centre.

The annual festival, which runs until July 13, incorporates more than 100 individual performances and shows and including the Basingstoke Live music festival.

This weekend was an opportunity to get into the festival spirit and catch short ‘taster’ performances of some of the highlights of this year’s programme.

In the Malls, “It’s Showtime” attracted large audiences throughout the weekend and showcased local dance, youth theatre, choirs, bands and singers who are putting on events as part of the festival.

These included Central Studio and Proteus Young People's Theatre’s Bugsy Malone production, people from Proteus presenting snippets from Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, and Basingstoke Festival of Choirs led by David Ogborn, whose main show will be at the Anvil on July 6.

Other groups performing free tasters for shoppers included Lynden Dance, Basingstoke Academy of Dance, Basingstoke Multicultural Forum’s World Party, Basingstoke Amateur Operatic Society Limelight and local young talent from Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society Next Gen.

Basingstoke Youth Theatre presented snippets from The Good Person of Szechwan, and Steve’s Magic, part of the Top Hat busking weekend thrilled with mindboggling tricks, while soul singer Natasha Mulvey and other local bands kept things tuneful.

At the Top of the Town Les Cubitenistes - The Museum of Everyday Life thrilled and involved shoppers and passersby from Friday to Sunday. With their wide range of very interesting props they created amazing framed images of the people of Basingstoke which were instantly exhibited and will be available to download. This was part of an EU funded project from the Hat Fair Out There programme.

Festival Square also attracted audiences to their street theatre shows that will be continuing throughout the festival. Knitters got in on the act by decorating Proteus Creation Space and the Tea Bar and the Big Hug wrapped the town with people keen to show their love of Basingstoke.

Cllr Cathy Osselton, cabinet member for partnerships, said: “What a fantastic atmosphere for the first weekend of the Basingstoke Festival.

"With weekends that focus on family fun, busking and street entertainment and of course Basingstoke Live still to come, there is something in the programme for every taste and to suit every pocket.”

The full festival programme and the latest information is available at