We Invented The Weekend: Salford free festival announces programme and line-up - what’s on and when

A whole host of organisations are teaming up for a weekend of music, food, dance, shopping, environmental activities and more.

A celebration of the concept of leisure time based on a fascinating snippet of Greater Manchester history has unveiled its programme.

We Invented The Weekend is taking place at Salford Quays and celebrates the fact that in 1843 campaigners including Salford Lyceum director and workers’ rights activist Robert Lowes won the right for workers to have Saturday afternoons off.

This key move in the development of the idea of the weekend and a break from work each week is being celebrated by a partnership made up of a host of prominent organisations including the BBC, The Lowry, the Royal Horticultural Society, the Science and Industry Museum and music festival Sounds From The Other City.

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    A packed line-up has been announced including live music, dance performances, food, green activities and a bit of retail therapy.

    When and where is We Invented The Weekend taking place?

    We Invented The Weekend takes place at MediaCity UK and Salford Quays on Saturday 10 August and Sunday 11 August.

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

    The whole thing is being led by creative director Wayne Hemingway MBE, with Kate Doyle who has delivered large scale-events for organisations including Manchester International Festival directing.

    The event will also be free to allow as many people as possible to, in the words of the organisers, celebrate ”the joy of leisure time, free time, quality time and me-time”, whenever in the week that might be celebrated.

    We Invented The Weekend unveiled its programme with a high-profile launch event which was hosted by Nihal Arthanayake and Karen Gabay and attended by Ghetto Fabulous, Gogglebox’s Helena Worthington and BBC Three’s The Drop winner Kemi Gbadebo.

    The festival also received a boost for its central idea of putting on free things to do for people when research done by Ipsos in partnership with We Invented The Weekend showed the cost of living crisis has impacted spending on culture for nearly two out of five people, and that the same amount of people are seeking out free activities.

    What is on the programme for We Invented The Weekend?

    The organisers of We Invented The Weekend are promising two packed days of events on a schedule which contains sports, music, greening and gardening, theatre, dance, workshops, talks, food, charity, wellness, crafts and more.

    The performance strand will include an open invitation to thousands of musicians and vocalists to be part of The Weekend Orchestra which will then put on a large-scale concert including anew song, led by the BBC Philharmonic.

    The Lowry will bring a series of performances out of the theatre and into the festival including popular, high-energy circus performance Circus Flavours and Indian dance production Jham! Festival-goers can also learn how to ‘werk it’ on a runway and create perfect Instagram poses with Ghetto Fabulous.

    Ghetto Fabulous with Alison Carlin of Manchester Fashion Movement and Kemi Gbadebo, University of Manchester graduate and winner of BBC Three’s The Drop. Photo: James Stack

    On the music side of things the main stage will have performances from acts including neo-soul six-piece Lovescene and hip hop act The Mouse Outfit, while Twisted Time Machine will take audiences on an interactive journey through time and space landing in several musical decades.

    Get Your Docks Off will have boat parties with themes including house, disco, Northern Soul and lovers’ rock, while celebrated Salford festival Sounds From The Other City will be putting on performances on the Quays and Unity Radio will have its own stage celebrating the city’s hip hop scene.

    On the Sunday members of the Eat Well MCR collective, a group of Manchester-based chefs that provides meals to people living in challenging circumstances, will celebrate the classic roast with a communal feast for 100 festival-goers under the leadership of renowned chef Mary-Ellen McTague. The same meal will also be delivered for free to people in the community that Eat Well regularly supports.

    There will also be street food traders selling everything from South American arepas to Afro-Caribbean curries, while local brewery Se7en Brothers is creating a special festival beer for the occasion.

    The retail therapy element of the festival has a focus on sustainability with the Manchester Fashion Movement featuring responsibly-sourced brands, fashion shows, styling challenges, workshops and exhibitions.

    There will also be a riverside makers market featuring independent crafts, vintage fashion and local produce, while the Charity Super.Mkt, a sustainable retail group, will have finds from a selection of six local stores and national brands for people to browse and buy.

    The festival is also teaming up with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) for its gardening and greening strand, with Lee Burkhill aka the Garden Ninja giving tips on transforming balconies and small spaces, interactive workshops for families, a fruit and veg tombola, vegetable-themed games and a smoothie bike.

    Play is also a significant part of the weekend and that will be celebrated with classic street games, workshops and learning through play. CBeebies Bedtime Stories Live will take place during the festival and the Science and Industry Museum will bring Mega Makers, a large-scale, hands-on activity about using big blue blocks to design an ideal future city and a playful new skyline.

    Sounds From The Other City. Photo: James Stack

    The University of Salford will be throwing open its doors for young people aged eight and over to come into its ground-floor event space and explore new fun and creative technologies, while HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, will be holding Esports World, the first immersive esports festival in the North West, and an AWS DeepRacer launch event and tournament.

    Budding footballers will have the chance to brush up their skills on the ball with the Manchester United Foundation’s Street Reds programme, while Salford’s Colour Swim will be at Dock 9 bringing together swimming, samba music and dance and Salford Boxing Club will give people the chance to try out the sweet science in a taster session.

    Salford Community Leisure (SCL) will also be delivering a range of multi-sports taster sessions, a football tournament, cheerleading workshops and watersports activities, while those wanting a less active and calmer start to the day can try out Carly Tong’s Vinyasa Yoga session.

    There will also be a weekend of big thinking hosted by the University of Salford at its MediaCity campus during the festival discussing the history of the weekend, learning about the workers’ fight for the right to free time and the history-making impact of Robert Lowes with the help of The University of Manchester and The Working Class Movement Library.

    Other topics up for discussion include how what we eat shapes who we are and the important role food plays in communities with Incredible Edible, the environmental cost of travel and how that can be reduced with experts from Flight Free UK and the Open University, and a talk on Re-Inventing the Weekend with climate specialists.

    Gogglebox star and Salford artist Helena Worthington will be on hand to teach you to paint a self-portrait, your pet or the Salford landscape, while the Manchester Street Poem will be inviting visitors to unleash their inner poet. The festival venue will be full of themed flags and the event will close on Sunday with The Free Time Parade which will bring people together to celebrate free time and work-life balance and think about what the weekend will look like in the future.

    What has been said about We Invented The Weekend?

    Wayne Hemingway MBE, creative director, ofWe Invented the Weekend, said: “We Invented the Weekend was born when we found out that the weekend was invented by a Salford-based activist.

    “It seems so apt that this incredible gift to the world has come from a part of the UK that has always known how to celebrate the weekend.

    “Working with Ipsos, we‘ve found that nearly two out of five people both need and want free cultural activities, so it is the perfect moment to deliver this bold, new, free festival that celebrates free time in all its forms.”