Catch the opening weekend of Greenwich and Docklands International Festival (GDIF), which kicks off on Friday, June 21, with an evening of celebrations in Woolwich, writes Holly O’Mahony…

Between 1pm – 11pm this Friday, Woolwich is being taken over by giant i-puppets, dancers and street performers, while art installations and food stalls will also line the streets. The opening night culminates in General Gordon Square, which is being transformed into a glittering outdoor ballroom thanks to a high-flying, immersive production from internationally acclaimed Transe Express.

GDIF is running from June 21 – July 6, offering a two-week programme packed with free outdoor performances, brought to the borough by artists from all over the world. This year, the festival features over 130 different performances and expects to attract around 10,000 visitors.

Other highlights of the opening weekend include Daedalum (June 21 – 23), the latest immersive architectural installation from Alan Parkinson, whose ‘cathedrals of air’ have attracted more than three million visitors across the world. A great one for kids and adults alike, the self-contained world of Daedalum offers a labyrinthine of colorful, pillowy tunnels to explore.

Another showstopper worth catching is Gandini Juggling’s new nail-biting spectacle. The troupe are bringing their critically-acclaimed mash-up of clowning, slapstick and dance to the Old Royal Naval College’s Monument Gardens this year in the form of a new show: Stack Cats (June 22 and 23).

Sculpture enthusiasts, particularly those with a penchant for the surreal, should make time to see Captain Boomer Collective’s Pasture with Cows (June 21 – 23). On the lawns of the Old Royal Naval College, a giant painting complete with cows is coming to life and it’s on you, the observer, to take your place inside the frame and complete the ever-evolving piece of art.

Whether you fancy dancing the night away under a glittery disco ball, immersing yourself in an art installation or watching a provocative piece of street theatre, GDIF’s diverse programme offers something to delight all culture vultures.

Greenwich and Docklands International Festival (GDIF) runs from June 21 – July 6 and is taking place in locations across the borough.
Most events are FREE to attend. Visit the website to find out more: www.festival.org/gdif/

Main photo: Alan Parkinson