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Culture Festival Brings Mars, Soaring Women and Jumbo Swings to London

With giant planets, swings and flying machines, this year's Kensington and Chelsea Festival has its sights set high.

The culture festival has returned for a third consecutive year with a bulging programme of theatre, circus, opera, dance, music, outdoor arts, family shows, participatory activities, talks, walks and public art pieces across the borough until 31 August - most of which are free or pay what you can.

And Luke Jerram has stolen the show again by plucking another planet from space and serving it up to us in more sexy locations. He’s brought the Earth and Moon to churches, halls and swimming pools and now the pioneering artist is wowing us with Mars, via a jaw-dropping, seven metre model, complete with insanely detailed NASA imagery of the Red Planet’s rocky surface at a scale of 1 : 1 million. It is free to view as part of the festival at All Saint’s Church from 31 July to 8 August and Jubilee Square from 10-13 August. Accompanying the Mars sculpture is a specially created sound composition by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award winning composer Dan Jones, featuring the sounds of seas, deserts and clips from NASA missions to Mars as well as distant bombing and people marching, as if to war.

Other August top picks include CastAway, which uses a snazzy, gyroscopic flying machine and an all-female cast to immerse audiences in an underwater world, where performers dive, twist, and float more than 26 feet in the air, as they take on a floating island of everlasting plastic that has now grown to 6½ times the size of the UK. And a big turnout is expected for The Swings, which is part performance and part interactive installation for big and small kids. Performers will fly high throughout the day on the five-metre swings, which will also open for people of all ages to sit and swing on, triggering a sound installation as they move. Mars, swings and flying gizmos - that surely covers everything on the kids’ summer holidays checklist?

Kensington & Chelsea Festival. Across the borough until 31 August.

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