he spectacular vision for Bradford's new International Festival was unveiled today in a blaze of carnival colour.

Bystanders held their breath as acrobats from trapeze troupe Skinning The Cat abseiled down the side of Bradford Library unfurling a giant banner as they fell.

The acrobats were joined by performers from Bradford's acclaimed Mind The Gap theatre company to herald a new dawn for Bradford's festival.

There was very much an "under new management" feeling in the air as the event's new organisers set out their lavish plans for Bradford's showpiece event.

The festival, which will bring the city's streets to life from June 7 to 16, is being heralded as an international attraction which will attract top artists and dignitaries from around the world.

Many of the main attractions are, for the moment, being kept under wraps by the festival committee, but some teasers have been allowed out.

Event organisers have announced that the festival's centre-piece will be one of the world's most sought-after outdoor spectaculars.

Fresh from playing festivals in 14 other countries, from cities as widespread as Glasgow, Zurich, New York and Cairo, the Improbable Theatre group are to perform their giant show Sticky in the heart of Bradford's city centre.

Sticky combines spectacular fireworks, lights, and animation with a giant 60ft structure made from Sellotape that grows before the audience's eyes to create a dazzling vision for everyone watching.

The brain behind the Sticky attraction is Improbable director Julian Crouch, who originally hails from Keighley.

Julian said it was great to be returning for a "home town" show after showcasing the group's talents abroad.

He said: "I was born and bred in Keighley and it is a delight to be coming home to perform. Our production Sticky focuses on regeneration and renewal - an ideal theme for this event.

"Improbable Theatre is looking forward to continuing the ongoing presentation of our spectacular outdoor event at the Bradford International Festival. Since 1996 we have toured 14 countries, winning awards from New York to Cairo.

"We think that the Festival is set to become an essential stop for international artists visiting the UK, as well as producers seeking innovations within the international festival circuit."

The festival will be launched in June with a gala performance of Madame Butterfly at the Alhambra Theatre by London City Opera Orchestra.

Puccini's opera will arrive at the Alhambra after a highly successful season at The South Bank in London and a sell-out coast to coast tour of America.

Directed by award winning Tom Hawkes the opera, which tells the tale of a young Japanese girl and her heartless American husband, has touched audiences throughout the world with Puccini's passionate score including the famous Love Duet and Humming Chorus and the aria One Fine Day.

Other planned changes for this year's festival will mean an end to the traditional Lord Mayor's Parade as Bradford knows it.

Instead of a convoy of floats heading towards the city the new parade is to be recast as the Notting Hill Carnival of the North - wending its way on foot through streets in the same style as the famous London celebration.

Groups of dignitaries and representatives from many European and global communities are to be invited to take part in the walking parade, which is to take in more of the city centre and bring the carnival right to the heart of Bradford, without the access restrictions imposed on a road-bound procession.

And it will feature the gigantic papier-mache figures which are a common sight in carnivals in Rio and Spain.

The Bradford Mela will also be revamped as part of the new look festival.

The Mela is to be expanded to represent all sections of Bradford's community and will not solely focus on Asian culture and cuisine.

Festival organisers are hoping to move away from the scenes of trouble and violence that have blighted the Mela in recent years.

Speaking at the launch festival, director Neil Butler, said pulling the festival together was a giant task but one his team was looking forward to. He said: "It is going to be a challenging project but one we are relishing, particularly as we forge closer links both with the community and council bodies who are all working towards improving the image of Bradford in the run up to the Capital of Culture bid 2008."

As well as the giant city centre banner a city-wide publicity campaign is about to get under way, spreading the word about Bradford across the region. That is something that Paul Brookes, director of Bradford's 2008 European City of Culture bid, says can only be good for the city.

He said: "The festival plays an important role in celebrating the cultural diversity of the district and is a catalyst in uniting communities.

"As the team forge links with both the community and Council bodies it ensures we are all working towards improving the image of Bradford I feel certain it will play an integral part in the success of the European Capital of Culture Bid 2008."

The revamped festival is also promising to help bring investment and economic regeneration as part of its celebration events.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, Bradford Council's Executive Member for the Environment, said: "Bradford Council is very excited about the plans for the Bradford International Festival and is looking forward to this great regional event becoming a truly international success.

"We are sure the festival will raise the city's profile and make a great contribution to Bradford's efforts to become Capital of Culture in 2008. It is very important to the regeneration of Bradford and will have a huge economic impact on the city.

Pictured is Council leader Margaret Eaton and Mind the Gap's Katie Whitaker and Israr Abbas