The Sol Cinema

Grab your popcorn and take your seat for a ‘Festival of Thrift’ programme of ‘how-to’ videos, clips and advice.

Sol Cinema is a tiny, but beautifully formed, cinema. Powered by the sun with all the traditional trimmings you’d expect, including usherettes and popcorn. Back by popular demand and super sustainable.

Running times will be

11.00 -12.30pm
1.30 – 3.00pm
3.30- 5.00pm


Train Sets

Oh the wonders of the scenery wrapped around a toy railway track. Railway stations with clock towers and waiting rooms, scooters travelling down winding roads with bridges and crossings, trees and ponds (perhaps with a fisherman or two), cows munching in the fields…

Let your imagination run riot and help us build the most tremendous set for the toy trains. There’s be plenty of materials on hand for you to use.A wonderful space to relax and make, for big and little kids alike. With thanks to Groundwork Trust.

You’ll need to bring your toy train too, either to leave (we’ll give them to charity) or to take away with you.

Part of the programme celebrating the Theme of Steam.



Darly is an enchanting, artist made, old wooden train carriage stuffed with stories, images, sounds and scenes for families to explore.

Created by visual Artist Hannah Fox and Sound Artist Dan Fox, Darly will be an enchanting and playful interactive sculpture, a curiosity box like no other, exploring the past and future of industry, rail and pioneering in the North East over the last 200 years.

Rather than a history lesson, Darly will be a miniature adventure, like opening the pages of a beautiful and strange storybook; glimpse into other worlds, encounter dreams, nightmares, characters and song. Involving shadow images, animation, soundscape and live music, Darly captures the wonderful dream world of the railway.

Darly is at the Festival all weekend, but will be animated between:
10.30am-11.30am, 12noon – 1.00pm, 2.00pm -3.00pm and 3.30pm – 4.30pm.

Darly is funded by our partners Darlington Building Society.
Celebrating 190th anniversary of the world’s first steam passenger train between Stockton and Darlington.

Festival of Thrift

The Urban Playground – STEAM

Urban Explorers discover a locomotive and take you on a journey through its life, fusing parkour, dance and slapstick comedy. STEAM is family street-theatre unlike anything you’ve seen before. Urban explorers discover the skeletal remains of a machine that changed the world. Captivated, they open a furnace and shovel coal on the fires of the past. In the ghostly light of the hungry engine images of epic journeys appear. Engineers & drivers hurry at the sound of a whistle’s blast, and the passengers; the passengers begin to dance… (more…)

Festival of Thrift

Folk Dance Remixed

On the Solar Stage: 11.30am & 12.30pm
On the Lunar Stage: 2pm

Folk Dance Remixed have been working with pupils from 6 schools in Darlington through the summer on a specially commission piece for the Festival. A groundbreaking company creating unique fusions between Folk and Hip Hop styles with live music. Led by Artistic Directors Kerry Fletcher and Natasha Khamjani, they rediscover old traditions through contemporary forms

Step Hop House: This show is a fresh, quirky, colourful and magical collision of traditional and Hip Hop dance and music: high-energy, with a unique remix of Maypole, Clogging, Ceilidh, Street, House and Breakdance with a hint of African & Bollywood… to a live soundtrack of fiddle & beat boxing – this is Folk and Street Dance like you’ve never seen it before! And there’s a chance for you to dance! Join in the fabulously fun funky social dance Ceilidh Jam and Street Dance the Maypole workshops creating wraps ‘n ripples mixed with waves ‘n breaks around a contemporary designed, bespoke ribboned, maypole… all to live music with remixed twists!​

Street Dance The Maypole! Dynamic open dance workshops for all! A chance to learn a funky street dance routine and mix it with the folkie maypole moves, such as the Chrysanthemum Wrap and The Ripple. Suitable for 8yrs and up, if younger they must be accompanied by an adult.

Ceilidh Jam and Ceilidh Jam Pop Ups can happen anywhere and instantly gather a crowd and gets them dancing in no time! Two or more of the Folk Dance Remixed crew demonstrate a Ceilidh dance remixed with some street dance moves. The Ceilidh Jammer’s bring their own irresistible catchy tunes to get the audience joining in and learning the moves.


Festival of Thrift

Swoolish Garage presents Vespaqua

Festivals can be tiring, but fear not, we’ve thought of everything: enjoy a trip around town in one of our bathtubs. Vespaqua, a theatrical wellness experience for both the young and the old.

Vespaqua: What a joy it is to let yourself be driven through town in a bath full of nice (hot) water with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. No swimsuit on you? Don’t worry, we have a wide selection of vintage bathing suits, a changing cabin and fresh towels. There are no more excuses, you shall relax!

Vespaqua will be open for 5 hours a day.

new logo DFDS_SW_CMYKSwoolish Garage is travelling from the Netherlands to be at this year’s Festival – kindly supported by our friends at DFDS Seaways.


Stockton to Darlington Ukulele Express

Take to the dance floor folks …  we have the incredibly talented Ukulele Express on the Solar Stage this year.

Open you senses to the wonderful vocal soloists and a selection of ukuleles, guitars, kazoos, recorder, mouth organ, clarinet and saxophone players – depending on the song – as well as a wicked sense of humour!

Playing songs from the 1940’s-2000’s.  The ethos of the group is that they play and sing because they love it and love seeing the audience singing and dancing along.

Ride The Rocket

Help build the Rocket and then take a journey around the Festival site. Artist Paul Grady from Teesside University will work with Festival goers to make a fantasy steam train – built around a tricycle – which will take participants around the site. Using scrap materials supplied from Percy Middlesbrough Scrap Store, the carriages will be decorated and filled with cardboard cut-out ladies and gentlemen from back in the day. Get your photo taken and be the face of one of those grand gentlemen or ladies on board. A fun and creative making project, roll up your sleeves and get decorating.  Train journeys to take place in intervals throughout the day. 

To add to the atmosphere we’ll be using Raspberry Pi technology to project railway footage from the North East Film Archive around the making activity of the Rocket … building up a real head of steam for the journey to come.

Celebrating 190th anniversary of the world’s first steam passenger train between Stockton and Darlington.

Facilitated by Steve Thompson of  Teesside University.

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