12 May 2012
Last updated at 02:35
Thousands of people took to the streets of Norwich on Friday evening for Invasion - the opening performance of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2012, in which internationally acclaimed street performers Close-Act brought dinosaurs and prehistoric birds to Norfolk.
The festival, which has enjoyed a 15% growth in advance ticket sales compared with last year, marked the UK premiere of Invasion. The beasts are created from a variety of materials including fibre-glass so they are light for the actors to wear and move in.
Close-Act, from the Netherlands, designs its shows for audiences of between 5,000 and 10,000 people. Artistic director Tonny Aerts said: "The great thing about this large outdoor theatre performance is that it's not on a stage and that makes it more interactive. We play inside an audience."
Mr Aerts added: The audience always react differently dependent on which country we are performing in and that makes it more interesting as an actor because you get direct feedback. It's not a nice show to watch from a distance you – as the audience member – are part of the performance.”
Invasion is just one of the many free events planned during the 2012 festival. Artistic director William Galinksy said: “I hope to see crowds of families, people of all ages gathering in the city centre. There is lots of great free stuff going on this year. We've also got £5 ticket deals for anyone under 25, which is actually cheaper than a lot of cinemas these days."
Thousands of people gathered on Gentleman's Walk in Norwich for the start of the performance. The beast walked around the city's historic market and City Hall before gathering on Millennium Plain. Mr Galinsky said: "It was a chance to see the centre of Norwich as you've never seen it before and say 'Yes - the festival is here'."
In addition to the dinosaurs puppeteers operated giant alien-like robots throughout the performance. The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is one of the oldest surviving arts festival in the UK with its origins dating back to the 1700s. In 1988 it became an annual event.
Invasion, a 90 minute performance, concluded with an aerial artist singing to the beasts suspended high above Millennium Plain from the roof of The Forum. The Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2012 runs until 26 May, with headline acts including virtuoso violinist Nigel Kennedy and guitar veteran Duane Eddy.