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  1. #1
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    Crowds flock to Phuket Street Festival

    Crowds flock to Phuket Street Festival

    An acrobat performs at the Phuket Street Show Festival opening ceremony yesterday.

    Phuket Officials and event organizers were on hand to start off the first-ever Phuket Street Show Festival.

    PHUKET: The 2010 Phuket Street Show Festival kicked off yesterday evening on a packed Thalang Road with energetic performances by aerial acrobats from Bencha Theater Group.

    Some of the world’s best street performers have descended on Phuket Town this weekend for the event, which is sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

    The festivities, taking place in the old quarter of Phuket Town and running until Sunday, boast a stellar line-up including 23 acts from nine different countries.

    There is something for everybody over the weekend, including music, magic, comedy, pantomime, puppetry, stilt walking, trapeze, balloon modeling, clowning, acrobatics, physical theater, unicycle, dancing and juggling.

    The shows are being performed on six separate stages along Thalang Road and part of Krabi Road, while other acts are on Thepkrasattri/Phuket Road from the Dibuk Road intersection to Phang Nga Road.

    The highlight tonight will be the performance of renowned street artists Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, better known as The Acrobuffos, who bill themselves as “laughmakers, street players and knockabout philosophers”.

    Other must-see shows tonight include another gravity-defying acrobatic show from Bencha Theater, the traditional circus of Korean comedy duo Funniest, and Brazilian BMX street performer James.

    All of the mentioned performers will also be strutting their stuff on Sunday alongside a host of other acts.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony TAT Events Department Director Wiwatchai Boonyapak explained why Phuket was chosen for the Street Show Festival.

    “We chose Phuket to host this festival because it’s a main tourism destination. We would like to send a message to the world that the tourism season has started. And after all the recent storm and flooding in the South, we would like to give local people and tourists a smile and laugh.”


  2. #2
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    OPINION: Street Show a great event for Phuket

    OPINION: Street Show a great event for Phuket

    Brazilian 'James' performing during the festival. Photo: Nicholas Altstadt.

    PHUKET: The Phuket Street Show festival last weekend was a wonderful coming out party for Old Phuket Town following its recent facelift. (See story, current issue of the Phuket Gazette. Digital subscribers click here to download the full newspaper.)

    Whoever came up with the idea to host world-class street performers in the old quarter is to be given a great deal of credit as the performers provided just the right kind of entertainment that could be appreciated by every member of the family, young or old.

    And because the performers relied more on movement and gestures than the spoken word, their art was perfect for an international tourist destination like Phuket.

    Comment in the Gazette's online readers' forum, often a repository of rote and rutted lament from disenchanted expatriates, was almost uniformly favorable. An extract from our favorite:

    "Big surprise to me. This event actually seemed well planned, organized and efficient! Not only is it entertaining, it's delightful in every respect – lovely mix of people and a relaxed feel. A big improvement over the Vegetarian Festival!"


    The festival also provided a pleasant alternative to the stinking sewage, noise, parking problems, touts, tuk-tuks and drunks that dog the Patong Carnival, which was held concurrently.

    But in some ways the unexpectedly large crowds in Phuket Town turned the fête into a victim of its own success. As anyone who attended on Saturday night can confirm, the huge turnout presented some problems, most notably Soi Romanee and other places where stages were set up in the middle of the street, blocking the flow of pedestrians.

    Some have already recommended moving the festival to Suan Luang or Saphan Hin next year in order to take advantage of the greater area and availability of parking.

    Of course it would be great to have more performances in those parks, but with a bit of tweaking, most of the issues that surfaced during this innaugural event could be overcome, and that the festival could well be developed into a signature event for Old Phuket Town.


    There are already numerous events held at Suan Luang and Saphan Hin, and local residents in and around both areas have begun to complain of sanitation problems, security issues, 'hospitality fatigue' and a host of other problems. Few would complain if yet another large event is hosted elsewhere.

    As mentioned by local TAT office director Bangornrat Shinaprayoon, this year’s event could not use Queen Sirikit Park as a main staging area, thereby forcing almost all of the activities into the very narrow Thalang Road.

    If just two or three of the acts could be held inside the park and others set up in areas where they would not impede pedestrian traffic, Thalang Road could be more of an intimate walking street than a bottleneck for the masses.

    The traffic jams of last weekend could also be largely avoided simply by using the Phuket Provincial Administration’s pink buses or other vehicles to shuttle in visitors from remote park-and-ride areas.

    We hope very much to see the Phuket Street Show back again next year.

    Phuket Gazette



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