We Invented the Weekend - A free festival for the North

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

The University of Salford will partner with the BBC, The Lowry, Eat Well MCR, HOST, Ipsos, The Open University and many more to host 'We Invented the Weekend', a free festival celebrating the joy of free time. 

We Invented the Weekend is a bold and imaginative free festival taking place in Salford, Greater Manchester, this September, delivering a joyful celebration of community and culture for the North, at a time when the cost-of-living crisis has meant reduced spending on cultural activities, such as cinema, theatre, museums, concerts or festivals, for nearly 2 out of 5 people.

Taking place on 10 and 11 September, the brand-new event will throw open all of MediaCity and Salford Quays’ spaces and places to celebrate the joy of free time with the first programme announcement including a glorious mix of sports, music, greening and gardening, theatre, dance, workshops, talks, food, charity, wellness, crafts and more. 

The University will open its Media City Campus for young people (8+) to explore new fun and creative technologies.

New research by Ipsos in partnership with We Invented the Weekend has evidenced that the cost-of-living crisis has impacted spending on culture for nearly 2 out of 5 people, and that the same amount of people are seeking out free activities, with the trend growing on both counts.

This new research has found:


  • In response to the cost-of-living crisis this year, 37% of people say they have reduced the amount of paid cultural activities they do at the weekend, such as cinema, theatre, museums, concerts or festivals, and a further 16% have considered this but haven’t done it yet.
  • In addition, 37% have said they are taking part in more free activities, with 16% considering this but haven’t yet.
  • Two in five say they are cutting down on eating out, travelling and socialising outside of home in response to the rising cost of living.

Wayne Hemingway MBE, Creative Director, We Invented the Weekend:

“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.”

On offer throughout the weekend will be creative workshops for all, taking in screen-printing, painting and poetry, a community Sunday Roast and Saturday Night Takeaway, boat parties, bands, music shows and mass performance, voguing, circus acts and Indian dance, fashion styling and sustainable shopping, plus shows for your fashion, your veg and even your dog.

The event will also be shared with the world; the BBC will broadcast radio shows and deliver content from across the festival, in partnership with BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC CBeebies, and BBC Radio Manchester, and much more to be announced.


We Perform:

The spectacular performance strand includes an open invitation to thousands of musicians and vocalists of all levels to perform as part of The Weekend Orchestra, a large-scale, joyful community performance which includes a brand-new song, led by the BBC Philharmonic.

The Lowry will bring a series of performances out of the theatre and into the festival including hugely popular, high energy circus performance Circus Flavours (Upswing) and upbeat, playful and energetic Indian dance production Jham! (Nina Rajarani MBE). Meanwhile, festival-goers can learn to ‘werk it’ on a runway and create picture perfect insta poses with Ghetto Fabulous.


We Listen To Music:

The main stage will span performances from neo soul six-piece Lovescene, through to legendary hip hop act The Mouse Outfit. Meanwhile, Twisted Time Machine will take audiences on an interactive journey through time and space landing in all the best musical decades.

Get Your Docks Off has a genre to float everyone's boat, with boat party themes including House, Disco, Northern Soul and Lovers Rock. Celebrated Salford festival, Sounds From The Other City, will bring its true, sweat drenched, hands-on DIY spirit ethos out of Chapel Street and onto the Quays, whilst Unity Radio will present its own stage celebrating the city's hip hop scene.


We Eat:

On Sunday, a collective of Manchester-based chefs that provide meals to people living in challenging circumstances, will celebrate the classic Roast with a communal feast for 100 festival-goers, curated and cooked by renowned chef Mary-Ellen McTague and members of the Eat Well MCR Collective. The same meal will also be delivered at no cost to people in our community that Eat Well regularly supports with meals.

There will be a whole host of food and drink on offer, with street food traders, including MediaCity’s own Box on the Docks, bringing food from across the world to the festival - from South American arepas to Afro-Caribbean curries. Drinks partner Seven Bro7hers, will create a special festival beer for the event.


We Shop: 

This is a creative retail offer with a sustainable twist, from an interactive retail space from Manchester Fashion Movement featuring responsibly sourced brands, fashion shows, styling challenges, workshops and exhibitions, through to a more traditional riverside makers market featuring independent crafts, vintage fashion and local produce. Also on offer is the Charity Super.Mkt, a sustainable retail super group taking charity fashion to the next level, featuring finds from a selection of six local stores and national brands.


We Get Green:

With a focus on gardening and greening, We Invented the Weekend and the RHS will reach out to aspiring gardeners of all abilities and ages across Salford. Find out how to transform your balcony or small space with the help of Lee Burkhill aka Garden Ninja. There will be interactive workshops for all the family ideal for little nature explorers. From first steps into this classic weekend hobby to expert gardeners we will be inspiring everyone to grow throughout the festival. Meanwhile, for the less green fingered there will be a fruit and veg tombola, along with a medley of vegetable games and even a smoothie bike.


We Think Big:

This will be a weekend of big thinking hosted by the University of Salford at their MediaCity campus, where we will discuss 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 University of Manchester and The Working Class Movement Library. We’ll hear the findings of the Ipsos survey and discuss the ways in which free time is changing and evolving.

We’ll also debate big topics, from how what we eat shapes who we are and the important role food plays in communities with Incredible Edible, HM Pasties and OOM, to looking at how we can continue to travel the world without costing the earth, hearing from experts from Flight Free UK and the Open University. Also on offer will be a series of workshops looking at ‘Re-Inventing the Weekend’, held by climate specialists.


We Get Creative

From Lowry by Lowry workshops from Gogglebox star and Salfordian artist, Helena Worthington teaching you to paint a self-portrait, your pet or the Salford landscape, to the Manchester Street Poem inviting all to unleash their inner poet, to make your own merch workshops, there is something creative for everyone.

MediaCity and Salford Quays will be filled with colour and art, from hundreds of fun, imaginative We Invented the Weekend themed flags and closing event, The Free Time Parade, offering a moment for everyone to come together to celebrate free time and work life balance and how this can mean different things to different people. A chance to hope, dream and make a pledge for what the weekend could look like in the future.  


We Play

From classic street games to workshops and learning through play, We Invented the Weekend will be filled with family activities for children of all ages and BBC Children’s will bring live activity, including CBeebies Bedtime Stories Live. For families who love to get creative, the Science and Industry Museum will bring Mega Makers, a large-scale, hands-on activity, where aspiring world builders can meet the people behind our urban environment and work with them to design the ideal future city and a playful new skyline using big blue blocks.

The University of Salford will be throwing open its doors for young people (8+) to come into its ground floor event space and explore new fun and creative technologies, whilst HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, will be holding Esports World, the first-ever immersive esports festival in the North West, and an AWS DeepRacer launch event and tournament for organisations and the community.


We Get Sporty

The Manchester United Foundation, which uses football to engage and inspire young people and unite local communities will bring its hugely successful Street Reds programme to the festival, giving young people the chance to learn new skills and get active.

Salford’s Colour Swim will return to Dock 9 with its unique fusion of urban swimming, music and dance both in and out of the water, all courtesy of USwim, Manchester School of Samba and Ghetto Fabulous. Other activities include a zen start to the day with Carly Tong’s Vinyasa Yoga session, tailored to everyone and every ability and Salford Boxing Club, a local fitness boxing centre, will be doing boxing taster sessions with professional boxing coaches.

Salford Community Leisure (SCL) will be delivering a range of multi-sports taster sessions, a football tournament for a range of ages, cheerleading workshops, plus Watersports activities from Salford Watersports Centre.


We Give Back

We Invented the Weekend’s volunteer programme will create a wide range of opportunities to get involved behind the scenes at the festival - from looking after artists to working with partners. The volunteer programme is managed by Salford CVS and in return we’ll be raising money for their community grant fund, which supports grassroots organisations to do incredible things.

The festival will also support a donation drive for Salford Foodbank and our food and drink traders are all running a ‘pay it forward’ scheme.


To find out more about the festival and sign up for updates, please visit www.weinventedtheweekend.com

Follow the festival on social media at:

Facebook: /WeInventedTheWeekend

Instagram: @weinventedtheweekend

Twitter: @WITWeekend



Partners: University of Salford, BBC, The Lowry, Eat Well MCR, HOST, Ipsos, The Open University, the Royal Horticultural Society, Salford Community Leisure, Salford City Council, Salford CVS, Sounds From the Other City, the Science and Industry Museum, Unity Radio, the University of Manchester and hundreds of community organisations from all regions of the city

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.