THIS year's Salisbury International Arts Festival saw performances from 1,200 artists from around the world with 43 events selling out.

The 16-day festival came to an end on Saturday and organisers say 53,000 people attended events with 36,000 enjoying free entertainment throughout the city during the City Encounters weekend.

The final year of director Toby Smith’s four-year cycle took inspiration from Québec, as well as introducing new work from artists with lived experience of mental health in the MouthPieces strand of the festival.

Festival director Toby Smith said: “For two weeks, the arts have animated every corner of this beautiful city, from the Cathedral to the Hospital, this year’s programme has been enjoyed by thousands. A fortnight of events spanning classical music to stand-up comedy kicked off with our free City Encounters weekend, bringing the finest new street theatre, circus and dance to the city’s streets, and came to a beautiful conclusion with Voices of the Whale, a show inspired by the wonder of whale song and created by a cast of 150 in our Cathedral. The success of year’s Festival brings my four years as Director here to a fitting close, and we all look forward to the next edition in 2019, as the Festival starts out on the next leg of its ongoing journey.”

The festival, which is in its 45th year, ended on Saturday evening with a performance from the Festival Chorus in Salisbury Cathedral for Voices of the Whale.

The 43 performances sold out, included the opening concert from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, talks from Susie Dent and Alan Johnson, an interactive performance of La Boheme from OperaUpClose and comedy from Rich Hall.

It was also another successful year for the Festival’s Learning and Participation work. A sold-out performance from Clare Teal was broadcast to every hospital bed in Salisbury District Hospital, and the musical comedian Will Pickvance treated patients to an outdoor performance in Horatio’s Garden.

In addition, military families from Tidworth were given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform in the cathedral, having worked with musicians from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the lead up to the festival.

The festival will take a break in 2018 and return in 2019 after the merger between the Festival, Playhouse and Arts Centre takes place.