A TASTE of London’s Covent Garden will be coming to town on May 18 with the launch of Ringwood’s International Festival of Street Performance Art.

Living statues, sword swallowers, chainsaw juggling, buskers and choirs, bands and poets will be taking to the streets as part of a one-day spectacular organised by the newly-formed Fanfare for Spring.

The festival, the brainchild of gallery owner and artist Roger Bettle, has been launched after weeks of planning by a group of friends under the umbrella of the town’s Rotary Club.

It will include performers from Ringwood’s French twin town Pont Audemer, along with acts from Poland and India.

Mr Bettle said: “The idea of having a Covent Garden or Edinburgh Fringe-type festival in Ringwood has been festering for years, to bring performers to the public rather than the public having to buy tickets to go to the theatre.

“This will give all the creative types, of which there are many in Ringwood and beyond, the opportunity to do their thing, be it singing, dancing, drama, reading poetry or telling stories.

“I want to see Shakespeare on the street, jugglers and buskers on the street corners and cameo productions from all our theatre groups, choirs and creative organisations.

“All we need to make this a hit is enthusiasm and support.”

Mr Bettle said that he hoped the event will go some way to replace the disbanded Ringwood Festival, which was scrapped late last year after 15 years of drawing thousands of people to the town.

It was set up by the late Danny Cracknell in 1997 who presided over the event until his death in 2008.

Already the Fanfare for Spring team has secured funding from Ringwood Town Council, which is making grants available to individuals to host their own events throughout the summer under the banner of Ringwood’s Community Events.

But Mr Bettle said support from businesses was also going to be vital.

He said: “All the traders, pubs and restaurants will benefit from this event. The whole town will be alive with colour, creativity and culture, but we need their support.”

To support Fanfare for Spring call Mr Bettle on 01425 489350 or email gill@bettles.net.