SUNSHINE and smiling faces greeted the Old Town Festival parade, kicking off a week of fun.

The festival, which has returned for its 28th year, has a full programme including jazz nights and a concert at the Town Gardens Bowl.

Around 20 organisations and four hundreds people were part of yesterday morning’s parade.

Wardrobe mistress at Tanwood School for Performing Arts Jenni Saunders said: “We did it last year and it was really good fun and kids really enjoyed it, so we pulled this dance together over the last few weeks and we had extra rehearsals after their normal classes.”

And musical director of Ministry of Samba Luke Winton who was also in the parade said: “It’s a really good atmosphere, and it’s great that people come out. There was a bigger crowd this year than last year. There’s a good carnival sort of spirit as well.”

Thousands of people went to watch.

Jessica Simpkins, 24 said: “My niece dances here today and she has been doing it for five or six years, so I’ve been coming to support ever since then.

“It’s amazing, it’s like the whole town is coming together, with all the dance companies performing and you have also lots of different food stalls, it’s really nice.”

James Ibbatson, 41 added: “My three-year -old loves it, it’s the second year for us and the parade was just as good as last year. It gives a good reason for people to get out in the sun.”

Festival committee member Nick Burns-Howell said: “It’s also very important because we are raising money for Wiltshire Search and Rescue, a fantastic charity that serves people in Swindon and also the county, supporting our emergency services for some of the most complicated search.”

He added: “It celebrates our local community groups, with all the dance clubs who are going to perform over the next week or so.

“And it brings some of our fantastic local businesses here. We’ve got more than 50 stalls so it’s fantastic to showcase the very best that our town has to offer.”

Bands received prizes to recognise their performances in this year’s parade. And it’s the Old Town partnership churches who ranked first even though they have never entered before.

Luke said: “We won the parade third place but we came first last year and we are still very happy about it.”

Swindon South MP Robert Buckland who went along to the event told the Adver: “I’ve been doing this festival now for about nine or 10 years almost and it’s just a great pleasure and a privilege to be with the community.

“It’s just a wonderful splash of colour that brings Old Town even more to life.”

For further information about the programme of events visit the festival website at