GDIF returns to London next week

Whether fans of drama, dance or music, those with a taste for the performing arts should next week make their way to the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF) – one of London's biggest annual celebrations of contemporary theatre.

Since it was established in 1996, GDIF has grown year by year; an impressive 80,000 visitors are expected to drop by the festival site in 2013, attending some 150 performances by 30 hardworking companies from the UK and abroad.

This year's programme incorporates street dance, experimental drama, comedy, cabaret and eye-popping circus spectaculars – an extraordinarily eclectic combination sure to appeal to diverse tastes and perhaps even convert some sceptics.

Everything is totally free to attend. That said, visitors can be assured they won't be crammed into tiny auditoriums – the entire festival takes place out of doors in the glorious June sunshine. A central site in Greenwich Park hosts the majority of proceedings, but a range of public spaces across east and south London will be involved too.

GDIF is helmed by the artistic director of last year's Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, Bradley Hemmings, and organisers hope the upcoming festivities will successfully recapture the optimism and vivacity that affected London during 2012's phenomenally successful Games.

The festival kicks off next Friday (June 21st) and runs until June 29th. Highlights include As The World Tipped, a breathtaking new show from Wired Aerial Theatre – a UK company specialising in bungee-assisted dance. An ecological disaster story that takes place across a 12 m vertical stage, the production promises to be dazzling and thought-provoking in equal measures.

There's also a raucous, prohibition-era musical retelling of Faust, an appearance from the English National Ballet and a variety of surprising and beautiful art installations; a full list of events can be found on the GDIF website.

Greenwich Park is easy to reach from most central London hotels and landmarks. Those travelling via Docklands Light Railway should head towards the Cutty Sark station.

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