St Leonards Festival is back at Warrior Square Gardens on Saturday 9 July, offering a diverse and community-spirited day of free performance and fun for everyone.

The alcohol-free event has a wealth of great acts lined up. Between 12noon and 6pm the gardens are divided into four zones: Music and Dance, Circus, Storytelling and Community. A Carnival Parade, led by professional stilt walkers Andrew Kim, Dolly Delicious and Nathalie Gathi, along with newly trained stilt walking students from Hastings Academy, circle the square at 3pm. From 7.30pm bands and illuminated drummers light up the gardens as the sun goes down.

On the main stage, acts are introduced by artist’s model and writer Sue Tilley, who famously modelled for painter Lucian Freud. The full programme, which can be found on, features an eclectic range of artists including young local band Cold Hearted; Christchurch School Choir; MK Dance; AFLO the Poet; Emmanuel the Magnificent; Mike Willis and Tom Fryer; and Ladies Swing the Blues, a jazz collaboration between Lynda Murray, Deirdre Cartwright, Alison Rayner and guest stars. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Bob Marley’s 1972 performance at the De La Warr Pavilion, each musician or band covers a different Marley song.

In the Storytelling Zone a gentle giant bird called Pongo mingles with crowds. Local artist Loulou Cousin hosts a workshop to make headdresses for participants to wear in the Parade at 3pm. Anusha Subramanyam tells stories through dance; Richard Storybeard enchants younger children with stories in his yurt.

In the Circus Zone, UK African Acrobats perform hilarious stunts, Xena Flame has crowds hula-hooping like pros, whilst Circus Pazaz bring the big top alive with zany antics.

In the Community Zone, audiences can enjoy delicious freshly cooked food, be entertained by Mad Jack’s Morris, cool off with an ice cream, and browse community stalls.

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