A GIANT phoenix, a man-eating plant, a double-headed unicorn and a glittering, golden, three headed elephant are just some of the fantastical creatures that will be heading to South Shields this weekend.

The official start of the South Tyneside Festival gets underway on Saturday (30 June) at 1pm with the town’s annual parade – and the promise is that this year it will be more spectacular than ever before.

Around 2000 people will be taking part in the parade – which is the biggest carnival of its kind in the North East – all reflecting this year’s theme of Monsters, Myths and Magic.

And leading the way will be six incredible floats, created by South Tyneside-based carnival experts Creative Seed.

“This year is going to be more spectacular than ever before,” said Sandy Harris of Creative Seed.

“We’ve have created some absolutely stunning pieces for the floats as well as some spectacular costumes and hopefully everyone is going to be totally blown away by what they see.”

The floats include a phoenix which will appear to be rising from flames and a version of Audrey, the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.

Creative Seed will also be bringing its Great North Carnival float and a princess carriage, complete with a pink fairy.

The parade will travel past the Town Hall and will once again be joined by South Shields FC on an open topped double decker bus, in recognition of the team being crowned 17/18 Evo-Stick North Division champions.

Then, following the same route as in previous years, it will make its way via Ocean Road to Bents Park, culminating in a performance by Southpaw Dance Company of a unique adaptation of Icarus.

Using amazing props – including a giant pair of 16 feet wings controlled by dancers and puppetry – the story of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun will be told.

A whole host of free entertainment will be taking place at Bents Park after the parade, including live music, street entertainers and a performance from Michael Jackson tribute, James Aston.

“The Summer Parade this year has all the ingredients to be one of the best we have ever seen in the long history of the event,” said Cllr Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council, with responsibility for culture and leisure.

“It’s going to be an absolutely spectacular day and we hope thousands of people turn out to line the route and support all those taking part.”

The South Tyneside Festival Parade is organised by South Tyneside Council and is supported by the Port of Tyne, Colmans Seafood Temple, Arts Council England and BBC Newcastle.

For more information on the South Tyneside Festival, including four free Sunday Concerts next month (July), featuring top name acts such as Pixie Lott, The Vamps, Scouting for Girls and Heather Small, visit www.southtynesidefestival.co.uk, or follow SouthTynesideEvents on facebook and @stynesideevents on twitter.