THOUSANDS of visitors took full advantage of the sunny weather on Sunday by visiting the popular Cricklade Festival.

With families lining the streets for the annual event, which is now in its 12th year in the town, the festival stayed true to its roots by providing a variety of free entertainment to the Cricklade community and beyond.

The day of fun was kicked off by the annual parade, led by the Cricklade Band as well as a number of individuals who braved the sweltering heat to dress up as their favourite characters including Alison Tinsley who took part in the procession dressed as Tinkerbell.

The 62-year-old retiree, who only moved to Cricklade three years ago, said: “This is my fourth year taking part and the reason I do it is because it is great to dress up and look a bit daft.

“Cricklade has a fantastic community and there is always something going on and this festival is one example of where the community has come together to enjoy themselves with one another.

“I wanted to move here because everything is on your doorstep and so things like this make Cricklade a great place to live in.”

This year the organisers aimed to increase their offerings to families, taking the opportunity to bring back a few popular entertainers from previous years including the Graffiti Classics groups who aim to make classical music wickedly funny as well as The Great Gatsby Show Girls.

Other big names that made an appearance on Sunday included contestants from Britain's Got Talent with illusionist Christian Lee and comedy acrobatic group Lords of Strut wowing crowds.

Organiser Nigel Wynne was over the moon with how the day managed to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all.

“Even when the event had only just started, there was still loads of people here," he said.

“It is hard work to organise this and every year, we question whether it is worth it but when you see everyone here enjoying themselves it makes you realise why you do it.

“The festival is great for everyone involved, from the local businesses to the groups that are able to have stalls.

“We always try to do something different every year but the problem is trying to raise the money to put on these extra things. This year though we are rather excited that we have two contestants from Britain’s Got Talent which we hope people enjoy.

“There is about 10 of us who do the organising but then we have so many people helping out on the day so we have to say thank you to them.”

There was a whole host of things for families to get involved with away from the High Street from puppet shows, to face painting but more unusually the chance to have a go at medieval longbowing.

Run by the Sevenhampton-based Companions of Longbow Club, members donned traditional medieval dress to entice youngsters to put their hand to the old-fashioned archery technique.

Dave Hewitt, chairman of the group said the members always get a good response from people.

“The group we have here are all members who are particularly interested in this method of archery. What we get out of it is that we are able to come to these things and teach people the technique and see them smile when they hit the target, especially the kids. From our point of view, it is an opportunity to recruit new members as well.

“We are just trying to keep the medieval style of archery alive.”