We Invented The Weekend: festival celebrating free time coming to MediaCity and Salford Quays in 2023

We Invented The Weekend is promising two days of activities including art, music, craft, dance, talks, food and wellness at Salford Quays and MediaCity.
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A spectacular free festival is coming to Salford Quays and MediaCity later this year as Greater Manchester celebrates the curious historical fact that We Invented The Weekend.

Two days of activities including art, craft, music, dance, food, talks and wellbeing sessions are being planned for the first weekend in June around the well-known landmark locations in Salford. A high-profile team is putting We Invented The Weekend together and including an array of big organisations in the celebrations, which derive their name from the fact that in 1843 a group of workers’ rights campaigners won employees the right to finish early on Saturdays at a time when most people worked six days a week.

Here’s what you can expect when We Invented The Weekend enjoys its first full outing in Salford this summer.

When is We Invented The Weekend and what is happening?

We Invented The Weekend will be a celebration of the concept of free time and will take place in spaces in and around Salford Quays and MediaCity UK on Saturday 3 June and Sunday 4 June 2023.

The two-day event will be free and is being put together in collaboration with partners including the BBC, the Royal Horticultural Sociey (RHS), The Lowry and Manchester United.

Although the full programme has yet to be announced festival-goers are being promised activities ranging from water sports on the canal, community feasts and dance performances to planting workshops and finding gems at vintage markets.

We Invented The Weekend was supposed to hold its debut edition last year but the festival was postponed in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. A couple of events did go ahead with the BBC Philharmonic and musicians in The Weekend Orchestra playing the national anthem and an original piece of music, The Lowry putting on family activities and a community Sunday roast organised by Eat Well MCR.

The BBC Philharmonic and The Weekend Orchestra played last year in an event that went ahead after the death of the Queen. Photo: Mark McNultyThe BBC Philharmonic and The Weekend Orchestra played last year in an event that went ahead after the death of the Queen. Photo: Mark McNulty
The BBC Philharmonic and The Weekend Orchestra played last year in an event that went ahead after the death of the Queen. Photo: Mark McNulty

The festival is being put together and supported by a team including designer Wayne Hemingway, Salford City Council, MediaCity, Arts Council England, Salford City Council, Peel Media Ltd and the University of Salford.

The event commemorates the victorious campaign in 1843 by workers’ rights activists in Greater Manchester to allow workers to get out of their jobs early on Saturdays, thereby inventing the modern concept of the weekend.

The 2023 launch edition of the festival also comes as research commissioned by We Invented The Weekend from Ipsos shows how the cost of living crisis is impacting on people’s leisure time on Saturdays and Sundays. One in three of those quizzed said they plan to go to bars or restaurants less in 2023 compared to last, with 30% cutting down on paid activities like going to the cinema or attending concerts. At the same time people are planning to do more free activities in their local area, with saving money due to the spiralling costs of things like energy bills a major reason for the frugality.

What has been said about We Invented The Weekend?

Festival co-founder Wayne Hemingway said: “With current hybrid working models, the weekends are more important than ever to reconnect, but they are clearly under threat with the Cost of Weekend Crisis. Life is different in 2023 – we are saving as much money as possible by staying in to save for the future, but it’s unfortunately at the cost of the weekend.

“With everything going on the world, socialising with friends and family, going out, having fun, discovering new activities and possible interests becomes even more important.

The Lowry chief executive Julia Fawcett OBE and We Invented The Weekend director Wayne Hemingway MBE. Photo: James StackThe Lowry chief executive Julia Fawcett OBE and We Invented The Weekend director Wayne Hemingway MBE. Photo: James Stack
The Lowry chief executive Julia Fawcett OBE and We Invented The Weekend director Wayne Hemingway MBE. Photo: James Stack

“Large-scale free festivals such as We Invented the Weekend offers consumers a chance to experience all the activities and socialising they have been restricted from at no cost, so we’re hopeful the weekender will let our festivalgoers take a step away from everyday life and help alleviate the Cost of Weekend crisis.

“It is a full circle moment being able to host a large scale free festival which celebrates everything that people love to do at the weekend in the place where the weekend was invented.”