AN estimated 26,000 people flocked into the town centre on Saturday for the inaugural Now Northwich festival.

Having been told to 'expect the unexpected' from the street performance extravaganza, those in attendance were treated to everything from community dance to floating astronauts.

The famous white and black facades of Witton Street were lit up red for a thrilling finale, as huge dinosaurs roamed in 'Saurus' by Dutch performers Close Acts.

Cllr Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “Many congratulations to all involved, performers, crew, organisers and especially the welcoming audiences for each performance.

“It should be renamed Wow Northwich, Barons Quay provided an impressive backdrop for the festival lending itself perfectly to performance spaces.

"I will be challenging the team to come back with even more next year if that is even possible.”

Highly Sprung brought a unique 'Urban Astronaut' performance highlighting the issues of environmental damage to the planet, and there were dance performances by Company Chameleon, Cheshire Dance, Fallen Angels Dance Theatre and other groups using locations around Barons Quay and Witton Street.

Northwich BID manager Jane Hough said: “Northwich truly came alive and it was amazing to see the town so busy and to also see so many smiling faces.

“The Northwich Business Improvement District was delighted to be involved in the organisation, planning and marketing of the event and we are pleased to report that there was a massive uplift in footfall on the day.

“Events like this really put Northwich on the map and I hope everyone is looking forward to the Christmas Extravaganza, which comes to town on Saturday, November 24.”

David Morgan, programme manager at Without Walls Consortium, said: “I was really delighted by the fantastic turnout for the first NOW Northwich event on Saturday.

"The level of enthusiasm was amazing, and it proves that there's a real appetite for this kind of work locally. This event has real potential to grow and establish itself as a major fixture in Cheshire's cultural calendar."

Now Northwich was funded by CWAC, Arts Council England, Northwich and Gadbrook Park BIDs, Marketing Cheshire and the SLANT programme.

The aim is to develop an annual event for the people of Northwich and surrounding areas; showcasing the best local, national and international street artists.