We Invented The Weekend to be Salford's biggest festival yet

Salford's cultural life is seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel with a brand new festival.

The Festival is still in development, under the watchful eye of design luminary Wayne Hemingway

The celebration of the arts and leisure, entitled We Invented The Weekend, will be an ambitious reimagining of what the weekend means to us all 

Lowry Mm
The Lowry Theatre is a major partner in delivering the festival Image: Confidentials

The mostly free public festival will programme MediaCity and the wider Salford Quays’ spaces and places with something for all ages and backgrounds. It will have participation at its heart and be created in partnership with the people and organisations of Salford including the BBC, The Lowry, RHS Bridgewater and the University of Salford as well as the many arts organisations across the city from Sounds from the Other City to Quays Culture, and many more.

It will celebrate everything from creativity, sport, exploration, horticulture and volunteering to food, making, well-being, education and learning, music, performance and much more.

From raving on the roof of the car park, dance performances to gardening skills with the RHS - audiences will meet new people, try new things and make new memories together.

A Visitor Takes A Pictures Of Big Ben Lying Down An Art Installation In Piccadilly Gardens In Manchester As Part Of Manchester International Festival
The new festival will work with more established events such as Manchester International Festival Image: Confidentials

Cultural collaboration 

Although the Greater Manchester area is home to a number of outstanding festivals, We Invented The Weekend is not in competition with other such events. In fact, it will be working in close partnership with other festivals and cultural institutions such as Manchester International Festival and Sounds from the Other City.

The Festival is still in development, under the watchful eye of design luminary Wayne Hemingway, place director of Media City UK, Josie Cahill and Julia Fawcett, chief exec of The Lowry. Leader of Salford Council Paul Dennett will also be closely involved. The festival is thought to have an initial budget of £500,000.

The festival's core value is summed up as "by the people, for the people" – which will take the form of genuinely participatory and interactive projects and workshops for local people, professional development and career pathways for young artists and ensuring the diversity, openness and accessibility of the festival to participants and audiences from all walks of life.

Rhs Bridgewater Family Seedlings Grwoing Activity Half Term Manchester
Workshops will include gardening skills inspired by the RHS Bridgewater Image: Royal Horticultural Society

The modern weekend

The concept for the festival was born back in late 2019, before cultural life ground to an almost halt (at least in person, it carried on heroically online). A  group of around 75 people from the creative industries in Salford got together specifically to imagine a new festival for MediaCity and Salford Quays and collectively came up with an idea based on everyone's favourite part of the week.

The inspiration lay in the historical roots of the idea of the weekend. The weekend as we know it came to be when Robert Lowes, a Manchester-based warehouse clerk, campaigned for local business owners to allow their workers to take a half-day off on Saturdays. 

Documents from 1843 show how Lowes won his fight for workers’ rights, allowing staff to leave at lunchtime on Saturdays. Before that, a working day was a grinding 14 hours, six days a week. One expert said of Lowes: “He can be viewed as the grandfather of the modern weekend.”

In a neat twist connecting the whole concept right back to the theatre and the arts, the documents were discovered by Lowes' great, great-grandson Sir Ian McKellen, on the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are. Perhaps the actor will be persuaded to take part in the festival as a tribute to his ancestor, to whom we all owe so much.

The inaugural We Invented The Weekend will take place on 10-11 September 2022, all being well.

Read now: 'This is is a really bold move for us' - Royal Exchange Theatre announces programme for 2022

Read again: Contact Theatre announces changing of the guard

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