La Strada is a festival of performance, street theatre and puppet shows based in the Styrian capital of Austria, Graz. With a mixture of free and paid shows, the city comes alive every year in early August with performers and visitors from all over Europe. The headline act this year was La Verita, a theatre show based on the image of Tristan & Isola by Salvador Dali, shown at the grand Graz Opera House. The surreal story was funny and absorbing, with all kinds of performers adding their talents, from singing and dancing to circus skills and contortionists.

During the daytime, La Strada offers a huge range of things to get involved with, and the different locations encourage you to explore this super-cool city. A show in front of the train station had people tuning in to a symphony composed only of sounds recorded in the station itself, while amused onlookers wondered what 100 people with wireless headphones were doing.

Elsewhere an ambitious construction project was underway, with volunteers assembling the pieces for a 3-storey building made entirely out of cardboard boxes. Children watched puppet shows, people in the park drank complimentary Mint tea as they listened to recorded war dialogues, and a 2-hour interactive play led visitors around a backwards inner-city village, before finally revealing we’d all been tricked by the Devil.

Evenings featured free music at Open Dance events, where the crowd enjoyed themselves as much as the swing musicians, and more shows at different locations, including the incredible Klaxon by Compagnie Akoreacro. This was a circus show in the truest sense, but much better than any I’ve seen before. Hilarious games of cat and mouse were literally joined by brilliant live musicians, while impressive solo skills from the trapeze to the Cyr wheel just kept coming. An exciting festival backed up by a city that is just as much fun.

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