In case you didn’t already know a colourful and kaleidoscopic array of events has been announced as plans for a free Wigan street festival this summer.
A packed programme has been revealed for a Streets Apart Festival; a two-day event that will bring established artists from across Wigan and Greater Manchester to party with residents in the town centre.
The programme, led by The Old Courts in partnership with Wigan Council and six other borough-based organisations, will bring top-class entertainment, DJs, and catwalks, alongside street art, face painting, community performances and more on Saturday, July 8 and Sunday, July 9.
The festival will begin with a huge parade through Wigan town centre on Saturday, July 8, bringing colour and carnival to the streets. It will feature two giant puppets: Farrah the Fox, a 5-metre-tall mechanical puppet who will be rolling into Wigan on her scooter; and Frankie, a puppet designed by local young people and arts organisation Everyday. Everyday (formerly Wigan STEAM) led making sessions with over 50 young people to design Frankie, a character who represents ‘a person like you and me’. Farrah the Fox is a visitor to Wigan and will be wheeling up and down the country this summer, visiting six towns and cities.
Saturday 8th July
Beginning at Mesnes Park at 1pm, the parade will head towards King Street through Standishgate; with dance, music and surprises along the way. Expect to see local dancers from WigLe Dance, Bom-Ta-Bom percussion band and local young people with specially decorated scooters, wheelchairs, and skateboards. Spectators should head to Standishgate for the best spot to see the parade, where people can also enjoy stalls and activities as part of Wigan Rotary Club’s Community Day. The parade will end on King Street at 2pm for a spectacular finale, including an invitation to join in a huge participatory dance routine. Keep an eye on social media channels for sneak peaks and opportunities to practice your moves in the lead-up. The parade is part of Hi! Street Fest, a national project led by Emergency Exit Arts and Historic England in partnership with six towns across the country, who are all welcoming Farrah the Fox to their place.
The celebrations will continue throughout the day on King Street, which will have been transformed with flags, decorations, and an outdoor stage. There will be a fierce and fabulous street party curated by Darren Pritchard (Ghetto Fabulous, Black Gold Arts, Black Pride Manchester). Darren has 20 years of experience in the fashion, theatre, television and performing arts industries, and is renowned for his inclusive club nights and celebratory community events. The afternoon will see a family-friendly programme packed with performance, activity and music.
Highlights include hula hoop artist Natasha Moonshine, fierce female dance artists Ghetto Fem, hand balancing act Only Wonderland, amazing dancers George and Cal and much more. There will also be a special edition of the Family Catwalk Extravaganza – an epic lip sync battle bringing the Glitz and Glamour to King Street. As we head into the evening, family activities will make way for music and dance, as King Street turns into its very own outdoor club with an artistic twist. Fierce dancers will perform alongside DJ sets from DJ Single Lady, SCAPA, Black Betty, DJ Jade Jaxson and more to be announced. Food and drink will be available to purchase from King Street businesses to consume on the street.
Darren said: “I’m so excited to be working on Streets Apart Festival! King Street was once the theatrical heartland of Wigan and is now the clubland centre of the town. I’m drawing on its two worlds to create an outside festival that brings its history and future together. A safe space for everyone to enjoy”.
Sunday 9th July
Sunday’s programme will be a relaxed affair, with live performances, artisan markets, food stalls and interactive art activities for people of all ages to enjoy. A programme celebrating local talent will include performances from Wigan Little Theatre, Everything Human Rights, The Music Projects, Louise Fazackerley, Corrie Shelley and Julie McKiernan, and more. Performers interested in having a short stage slot as part of the Sunday programme can find opportunities by visiting the Streets Apart Festival website here. Guided history tours will also run on King Street throughout the day, led by members of Wigan Local History and Heritage Society.
On the Sunday, The Old Courts’ resident, award-winning theatre company, ThickSkin, will premiere a special Wigan edition of their location-based audio series Walk This Play®. Working with local young people, ThickSkin will create a unique audio experience, designed for listeners as they walk, which celebrates Wigan’s past, present and future.
Head to streetsapartfestival.com to find out more about the programme along with ways to get involved in various workshops and activities that will take place in the run up to the festival.