SALISBURY International Arts Festival gave a significant boost to the city with 42,000 people flocking to events.

The festival, which returned after a year's hiatus, saw more than 350 artists from 15 countries perform across the 17-day event.

More than half of festival goers were first-time visitors to the event - a record number for the festival. 

Wiltshire Creative artistic director Gareth Machin said: “We are delighted that this year’s festival was enjoyed by so many people. Throughout the Festival fortnight we were proud to offer world class music, dance, theatre, circus, spoken word and much more in the buildings and spaces of our beautiful city. Thank you to everyone who supported this year’s festival, in each and every way.”

Free events included City Encounters – two days of street theatre, circus and dance in Salisbury city centre – as well as Family Fiestas at Bemerton Heath and Salisbury Arts Centre, and Salisbury Live in the city’s pubs and clubs.

International artists included Circus Xanti from Nepal, oud player Rihab Azar from Syria and visual artist Oksana Chepelyk from Ukraine.

The 2019 Festival marks the end of the first year of work from Wiltshire Creative, the newly merged organisation that brings together Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury International Arts Festival and Salisbury Playhouse.

Gareth worked closely with Guest Festival Director Jonathan Dove to programme the 2019 Festival.

Composer Jonathan enjoys a significant history with Salisbury, having begun his full-time professional career at Salisbury Festival 30 years ago. He recently received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to music.

The festival opened with hundreds of children singing one of Jonathan’s new compositions, Moon Songs, in Salisbury Cathedral.

The 2019 Salisbury Festival also included a new Festival of Ideas, curated by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rebecca Johnson, which explored questions of the global nuclear threat, climate change and contemporary politics.

Wiltshire Creative is also today pleased to announce that next year’s Salisbury International Arts Festival will run from May 22 to June 7. Further details will be announced early next year.