YOUNG and old tried their hand at everything from fencing to beach tennis at the launch of an annual sporting festival.

Hundreds descended on Brighton’s Preston Park on Saturday for the first day of the TAKEPART event which will run until July 6.

The festival, which last October was handed the Big Society Award by Prime Minister David Cameron, aims to get residents into new sports and activities.

The sun was out for the opening day which saw 20 zones featuring a range of sport, dance and other activities to try. In the football zone there was coaching and mini matches while in the adventure zone there was climbing, orienteering and an introduction to sailing.

As well as many of the traditional sports such as hockey, golf, cricket and tennis, the likes of fencing, petanque and ultimate frisbee were also on offer.

One of the most popular areas was the cycling zone which was run by Bikestock Festival organiser Gerard de Nervaux.

He said: “It was an absolutely fantastic day. The weather was just perfect and there were so many people around.

“We had youngsters of all ages going around a circuit we created along with mums and dads too.

“It’s all about getting kids back on their bikes and away from their tablets and Xboxes.”

Fellow cyclist and local Sustrans officer, Ben Sherratt set up a track and took youngsters around it on bikes of all shapes and sizes.

He said: “The great thing about cycling is the sense of adventure and freedom. I can go down to the shops on my bike or go all the way to Cape Town.

“You can do anything and go anywhere – and at the same time you get fit.”

The festival continues this week with a range of activities including table tennis, an introduction to roller derby and break dancing.

There will also be an introduction to sport and activities for older people at King Alfred Leisure Centre on July 1 and the second annual cycling festival Bikestock in Stanmer Park on Saturday, July 28.

TAKEPART is run by Brighton and Hove City Council along with the help of numerous city sports clubs both professional and amateur.

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chair of the council’s economic development and culture committee, said: “The TAKEPART family funday has launched a summer of sporting fun across Brighton and Hove.

“The award winning festival is packed full of things to do and I encourage everyone to go and see what is on offer.”