A human balloon, a super sexy torch singer, a group of middle-aged moaning punk rockers and WOW on the Waterfront’s spectacular aerial show are among the weird and wonderful performers taking over the Wales Millennium Centre this summer.

The first-ever Blysh Festival of carnival and vaudeville arts kicks off in colourful fashion at the Wales Millennium Centre from Friday, July 17 to Sunday, July 26.

Part of the Cardiff Festival, Blysh is a mix of free music, street theatre, circus performances and workshops, top class cabaret shows and incorporates the popular WOW on the Waterfront show.

Blysh also brings a programme of classy cult cabaret to the Weston Studio starting with So & So Circus (July 17), who combine larger than life characters and stunning acrobatics all set to swinging jazz music. After a sell-out run at London’s Soho Theatre, London’s cult cabaret duo Bourgeois and Maurice, bring their caustic new show Social Work to the festival on July 17. The duo includes Keira Knightley and Rupert Friend among their celebrity fans.

They are followed by director Guy Masterson’s black comedy Scaramouche Jones (July 18). The hit of last year’s Edinburgh Festival, the play is set on Millennium Eve, as the ancient clown breaks 50 year's silence to give his final performance.

One of the festival highlights is a concert by Camille O’ Sullivan and her five-piece band. The scarlet-lipped French-Irish actress and chanteuse has made cabaret cool with her sensual interpretations of Jacques Brel and Kurt Weill classics and more contemporary songs from Nick Cave, Tom Waits and even David Bowie. After five star sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Camille brings her Dark Angel show to the Weston Studio on July 23.

The Weston Studio will also stage new shows by Mr and Mrs Clark (July 21), the cabaret alter ego of Cardiff artists Marega Palser and Gareth Clark; Circomedia (Friday 24 and Saturday 25), the performers from Europe’s leading circus and physical theatre school based in Bristol and Cardiff’s very own Secret Carnival (July 26), who bring the festival to an end with their masked carnival featuring DJs, performance artists, circus acts, characters and bands. Their night of sideshows and full blown festival fun features DJ Matt the Hat, Lilywhitesass Dancers, Mrs Bens Costume Shop, Tarot Readers and some very special surprise guests.

The programme of free entertainment includes a series of circus workshops by Cardiff’s Nofitstate Circus (July 18 and 19), live music from Derwyddon Dr Gonzo (July 17), Plant Duw (July 24), Graveyard Johnny’s (July 23) and Punksnotdad (July 21), a group of ageing punks from Cardiff led by Sid Life Crisis.

Human balloon Bruce Airhead (July 18), is instantly recognisable to anyone who has watched Graham Norton’s TV talent show When Will I Be Famous? or the Royal Variety Show. On July 18 he will be performing his mad and amazing show where he slips into a
man-sized balloon.

Fraser Hooper (July 19) is an award-winning clown and mime artist who entertains with a suitcase of tricks while the Mis-Information Tent (July 24) set up their comedy stall at the Centre offering the (wrong) answers to all life’s questions. Other free street theatre performances include shows from the Centre’s resident art groups Odyssey Pod (July 21) and Touch Trust Carnival (July 21)

The free entertainment continues throughout the closing weekend (July 25) as the award-winning SWICA (South Wales Intercultural Community Arts) take over the Bay with performances from Samba Galez, a carnival parade and a Masquerade carnival before the finale of the aerial show Wow on the Waterfront. Internationally acclaimed French theatre company Transe Express return to the Oval Basin to premiere their spectacular new aerial show 80-ft above the Bay.

For a cinema experience with a difference visit the Bay on Sunday July 26 when Cinecabagogo, a cinema in the back of a black London Cab, will be parking up outside the Centre to screen a programme of short films in their mobile venue.

SWICA return to take over the Bay for the premiere of Dragon. Based on the 50th anniversary of the Welsh dragon being adopted onto the Welsh flag, the show brings the free festival of free entertainment to a close with a clash of music and colourful costumes.

For full listings of the Blysh Festival visit www.wmc.org.uk/blysh
To book tickets for shows, visit wmc.org.uk or call the ticket office on 08700 40 2000

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