A world record holding female sword-swallower, a tattoo-covered daredevil contortionist and a 3 time world champion beatboxer... all in the one place you say? That’s right this rag-tag bunch of street performers are just a few of the 16 finalists who will perform at this year’s Laya Healthcare Street Performance World Championships in Dublin (Merrion Square, 12th - 14th July) and Cork (St. Patrick’s Street, 20th - 21st July).

The SPWC is Ireland's second largest free family festival and its back to knock your socks off with the world’s most talented street performers. Over each weekend the public will vote for their favourites and the act with the most votes will be crowned the 2013 Laya Healthcare Street Performance World Champion. In the run up to the event we took at look at 16 acts who’ll be looking for your votes:

Alakazam (Australia)
Alakazam presents a high energy show that will have you reeling with laughter and twisting in your seat. His incredible career has been anything but normal from when he first proudly announced to his parents that he was going to make a living from squeezing himself through a squash racket.

With more bends than an Irish country road, his freaky contortions, cheeky comedy and ridiculous sky-high feats of danger are definitely a cut above the rest. This is a street show like no other, don’t miss out!

Bellatrix (UK)
No one should go through life without hearing at least one ‘chicken beatbox’, yes...I said chicken beatbox! Bellatrix is the female beatboxing world champion and it’s not hard to hear why. This lady can do more with her voice and a microphone than most DJs with a set of turntables. Prepare for foot tapping, head nodding and cheek to cheek grinning.

B-Xtreme (USA)
Ladies, prepare to swoon... men, prepare to take notes. This highly skilled technical crew are in a league of their own. Hip-Hoppin' straight out of the US of A with a trail of accolades to their names, these lads are as quick on their feet as they are quick witted.

Check out this ever-cool break dance troupe if you want to learn how to bust-a-move and improve your skillz yo! So hot that they are partially blamed for the rise in global warming, this show isn't just good...it's freakin' awesome!

Cirque No Problem (Hungary)
No strangers to the LHSPWC, we all fell head over heels in love with these high flying Hungarians last year and voted them the 2012 world champs!

With characters and ambiance inspired by the travelling circuses of the 1920’s and 1930’s, Cirque No Problem take the classical, infuse with the spectacle, add comedy and shake (not stir) it to create their own magical blend of AWESOME.Experts in clowning, acrobatics, juggling and balancing, sometimes all at once! That might sound complicated but as Noa and Uri Weiss say themselves ‘It’s No Problem’!

Ernest The Magnifico (Australia)
With a ‘tash that could rival Tom Selleck, Mr. Julian Bell, A.K.A Ernest the Magnifico, is Australia’s most dangerous stuntman. After falling out of bed as a child and jumping in front of cars as a teenager, Ernest combined his talents to create “ The Big Great Stunt Show”.

With an overpowered stunt car, oversized pogo stick and an overwhelming ego, Ernest will defy death, cross personal boundaries with this truly unique slice of the Australian outback leaving you wanting more. A comic street show so like no other.

Lords of Strut (Ireland)
Back in 1994 Ireland produced the world’s most renowned and sought after dance act. Michael Flatly & Riverdance flooded into arenas & hearts throughout the globe. Since then, no Irish act has managed to emulate its success and demand, that is until now….Famous Seamus and Sean-tastic are ‘Lords of Strut’; two absurdly hilarious Irish men in their prime.

Representing their country at the championships, these shiny leotard wearing eejits will once again leave a sea of somewhat bemused, a little confused but most definitely amused faces in their wake.

Miss Behave (UK)
Mothers, lock up your sons! A facilitator of people’s good times and the ultimate Mistress of Ceremonies, Miss Behave is a crowd dominatrix with a friendly twinkle.Not many people can claim the ability to swallow a sword, in fact, Miss Behave is rumoured to be the one of the only last SURVIVING females in the world to boast such a talent.

"From sublime to ridiculous to downright sexy…genuinely edgy and genuinely funny”

Miss Behave will perform at the Dublin festival only.

Nigel Blackstorm, The Heavy Metal Magician (USA)
Ever wonder what would happen if you mixed the DNA of Paul Daniels and Ozzy Osbourne? Well wonder no more! Nigel Blackstorm IS the Heavy Metal Magician! As a youth he focused on his two passions: heavy metal and the world of magic creating the unique genre: ‘heavy magic’.

His magic doesn’t just look great....it sounds pretty darn awesome too! With stallion-esque hair that can only be described as incredible and an ability to rock out with his wand out...ladies, you’ve been warned, control yourselves!

Pancho Libre (Mexico)
With out of this world stunts, some say he was raised on the planet totes amazeballs! Others say he spent years under a grueling regime, training up to 50 hours a week alongside some of the world's greatest acrobats at the Chinese Circus – either way, Pancho's abilities are second to none.

This Mexican’s antics on a CYR wheel have to been seen to be believed. This high flying human flag is a must-see this year. Andale! Andale!

Rob Torres (USA)
If actions speak louder than words, this guy screams fun. International comedian Rob Torres can be understood everywhere, without saying a word. Whether he's putting on the kettle, setting the table for the Sunday dinner or double-checking that the immersion is off, Rob Torres has a unique way of finding the absurdity in everyday tasks.

If you’re looking for laughter this is where you will find it. Come and see for yourself why he is the International Man of Mirth!

Rubberband Boy (New Zealand)
Introducing the freak-liest boy in show business. The Famous Rubberband Boy is so funny he should have been twins! A master of rubberband-ology and inventor of ‘The Human Catapult’ (the largest rubber band you'll ever set eyes on), he holds two world records for facial contortion alone. This comedy daredevil performs the most outrageous straightjacket escape you’ll ever see.

The Alpha, The Omega and The Rubberband Boy! Anthropomorphic creature of stationary, Man or Monster? You decide!

Senmaru (Japan)
Imagine the strangest most skillful thing that you have seen and multiply that by 100...Whoever said tea pots weren’t cool obviously hasn’t seen Senmaru in action. Not many people can say they have ever been served an earl grey, from an ancient Japanese teapot, by a man in a kimono, balanced on his chin, on two sticks, standing on one leg…

Senmaru is the master of things that should never have been learnt in the first place and sums himself up perfectly when he says… It’s Aaaammmmmaaazzziiiinnngggg

The Chairmen (Canada)
Canada’s James & Bob bring a truly ‘chair-raising’ experience to this year’s Championship. The Chairmen are two obsessed individuals dedicated to exploring and expanding the world's perception of those white plastic patio chairs that everybody has had their bum in at one point of their lives.

Get ready for some chair juggling, chair chin balancing, musical chairs, CHAIRiot races…if there is fun to be had with a chair, these guys know about it! A brilliant family show that will, ironically, get all the clan up and out of their seats!

The Doogans (Australia & UK)
Forget Batman & Robin, Laurel & Hardy…..Sonny & Cher, the collaboration of the century goes to the pairing of Pandora Pink and Mr. Spin, AKA ‘The Doogans’. Two incredible street performers in their own right, this UK & Australian juggling duo have combined forces to bring you a show with dynamic pace, mixed with eccentric chit-chat and phenomenal skills, the two characters are charming, mischievous and irresistibly funny. Five-star entertainment for the whole family!

The Red Trouser Show (USA)
A combination of precision acrobatics with high skill knife and fire juggling. ‘YES’ I hear you say. These guys do everything you were told NOT to do by your mother when you were a kid. Luckily for us, David and Tobin not only rebelled against parental rule but they took their blade wielding, ladder climbing, fire juggling traits and combined them with incredible acrobatics that will leave you gagging for more.

(And yes.... they do wear Red Trousers!)

Zap Circus (Australia)
If you're after Fire, Acrobatics, Circus and Comedy then you're in the right place. With a wealth of experience behind them, these Aussies hold no boundaries when it comes to entertaining all those who dare witness their talents.

Forget Posh & Becks, Brad & Angelina, Zap Circus are the hottest couple in town at this year’s championship!! If you think you’ve seen it all, well quite frankly m’dear, you haven’t!!

For more information including timetables for both events go to www.spwc.ie