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Thousands descend on Salford as inaugural We Invented the Weekend Festival championed a massive success

We Invented the Weekend, the bold and imaginative free festival for the UK, has been hailed for generating ‘incredible social value’ after thousands attended across its two days of events and activities.

The culture-led festival, which has been four years in the making, celebrates how people spend their leisure time, situated where the weekend was originally invented in Greater Manchester, 1843. Salford Lyceum director and workers’ rights activist Robert Lowes (also Sir Ian McKellen’s Great Great Grandfather) campaigned to win mill workers the right to leisure time on Saturday afternoons. In this triumph, Greater Manchester gave an enormous gift to the world and We Invented the Weekend honoured this, in true style, celebrating leisure time, free time, quality time, and me-time.

Wayne Hemingway MBE, co-founder of the We Invented the Weekend, commented on the success of the festival’s first outing: “What a turn out from all walks of life. The Weekend belongs to all of us. It has been incredibly rewarding to see such a diverse, happy crowd, of all ages, fully embracing the festival’s purpose, discovering something new and appreciating each other more. “MediaCity & Salford Quays have fantastic multi-purpose spaces which are perfect for events like this which bring families, social groups, and communities together.” “The fact we’ve also been able to bring all these different partners and brands together to offer this entire experience for free, for the good of the people, particularly at a time when the country is on a financial rollercoaster, is something we are all incredibly proud of. We have lit a fuse and we can't wait to start making plans for next year’s We Invented the Weekend.”
Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett also said “We have been immensely proud to show off Salford’s gift to the world this weekend with the inaugural We Invented the Weekend. The festival has been a truly unique celebration of MediaCity, Salford Quays and its nearby areas and has demonstrated the passion this city has for its people. We Invented the Weekend showed what we’re capable of, so we’re thrilled to have played a part in its success. We’re very much looking forward to seeing what the city can accomplish next year.”

With more than 200+ free activities put on over the weekend, the festival presented an array of exciting performances and participatory moments, including showcases from the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Factory International, Sounds From The Other City, and community dance groups; Charity Super.Mkt’s first venture into the North created a buzz and great support for ten different charities, and CBeebies Bedtime Stories LIVE captivated the kids throughout the weekend.

A series of educational talks in collaboration with the University of Salford was also delivered as part of the ‘We Think Big’ talks, which saw industry leading activists, campaigners, mayors and entrepreneurs discuss societal issues in front of a live audience. RHS Bridgewater also offered gardening advice and workshops as part of ‘We Get Green’; Art Battle: Next Generation created excitement at the top of The Lowry; there were more than 100 ‘We Get Creative’ art stations and workshops for all ages; and DJ Craig Charles delivered the festival’s closing set during the Free Time Parade.

Additional highlights saw Community Clothing, an ethical clothing brand based in the North, leading a pop-up and swap shop over the two days allowing festivalgoers to trade in and exchange their Community Clothing pieces, whilst their founder and judge on BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee, Patrick Grant joined Wayne Hemingway MBE to discuss sustainable fashion and the history of the local textile industry, paying tribute to the Greater Manchester workers who fought for our right to have Saturday’s off.

At The Lowry, a key partner of We Invented the Weekend, a whole host of activities as part of the ‘We Get Creative’ workshop, including Lowry by The Lowry, allowed people to learn how to paint in the style of one of Salford’s most famous sons, LS Lowry, under the expert guidance of artist and Local Goggleboxer, Helena Worthington.

From a musical perspective, the powerhouse of North West talent and fronted by Pops Robert, Lovescene, made an appearance as part of the ‘We Play’ performances, with Unity Radio hosting a mainstage takeover, as well as sets from BBC Radio 1xtra heroes Luke Nelson, Nakia Oliver, Black Betty and Prido.

SFTOQuays brought local heroes from Sounds From The Other City to MediaCity and Get Your Docks Off musical themed boat trips on the ship canal. ‘Playhouse Project’ got the whole family going with soulful house, rare funk and broken beats on the MediaCity weekend stage, amongst a plethora of other DJ sets across the site.

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