We Invented the Weekend • We Invented the Weekend •
We Invented the Weekend • We Invented the Weekend •

First Programme Announcement

Free Festival for the North Announces Programme Celebrating the Joy of Free Time



MediaCity and Salford Quays

Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September, 2022

In partnership with the BBC, The Lowry, the University of Salford, 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

We Invented the Weekend is a bold and imaginative free festival for the North, this brand new festival, taking place on 10th and 11th September across Salford Quays and MediaCity, will celebrate the invention of the weekend, a world changing moment that took place in Greater Manchester in 1843.

The weekend was invented when campaigners, including Salford based workers rights activist Robert Lowes, also Sir Ian McKellen’s great granddad, won workers the right to leisure time on Saturday afternoons. Today, We Invented the Weekend is championing community and culture as essential elements of everyone’s lives and delivering free and accessible creative, community driven activities for everyone in the region.

We Invented the Weekend 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.

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 and sports, and a further 16% have considered this but haven’t done it yet.
  • In addition, 37% have also say they have 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.”

We Invented the Weekend and Ipsos will be working with researchers from the University of Manchester before and during the festival to develop our understanding of how people experience the weekend, what they want from it, and its significance for culture and community.

The new festival will harness the power of community. 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.

We’ll be sharing our weekend 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 of 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 parties 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.

Food and drink throughout the weekend will come from Box on the Docks, and drinks partners Seven Bro7hers, who are creating a special festival beer for the event. There will also be 20 street food traders, bringing food from across the world to the festival – from South American arepas to Afro-Caribbean curries.

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 MORI 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. 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 click here.

Follow the festival on social media at:

Facebook: /WeInventedTheWeekend

Instagram: @weinventedtheweekend

Twitter: @WITWeekend


For further information please contact:

Tom McGarva
Sundae Communications

Notes to editors:

We Invented the Weekend is funded by Arts Council England, Salford City Council and MediaCity (a Peel Media Ltd and Landsec partnership) and supported by Salford’s Culture & Place Partnership, a cross-city collective delivering Suprema Lex, Salford’s strategy for culture, creativity and place which is led by The Lowry, Arts Council England, Salford City Council, Peel Media Ltd and the University of Salford. The event delivery partner is HemingwayDesign who hold an impressive track record of delivering large-scale public engagement events across the country.

We Invented the Weekend is a true partnership project with generous contribution to the festival content from a number of key partners including the BBC, The Lowry and the Universities of Salford and Manchester as well as many smaller arts and community organisations across the city.

About MediaCity

MediaCity is a waterside community that’s part of Salford Quays in Salford, Greater Manchester. It’s home to some of the world’s most exciting creative, tech and media brands, from BBC North and ITV to Ericsson, The Hut Group Group, Kellogg’s and over 250 creative and tech businesses. Three education establishments are based there, including the University of Salford’s dedicated MediaCity campus, while at its heart is HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, which supports innovators in data, analytics, cybersecurity, AI, gaming and immersive technologies. Alongside a growing roster of local, independent food, drink and retail operators is a dedicated shopping centre, parks and public spaces, and one of the UK’s most visited arts centres, The Lowry. Sustainability is core to MediaCity’s future: home to the UK’s largest cluster of net zero carbon buildings, it has two dedicated Metrolink tram stops, while 100% of its energy comes from renewable sources. It is also a popular residential neighbourhood, with MediaCity as a whole set to double in size within the next decade.

MediaCity is a joint venture between Peel L&P and Landsec. Together, their inclusive and collaborative approach to the development of MediaCity will ensure that it grows into a community united by creativity, and a place of play, imagination and innovation.

About HemingwayDesign

HemingwayDesign are a multi-disciplinary team who work across events, urban design, brand, interiors, product and graphic design. Our award-winning events arm has instigated eight cultural and placemaking festivals across the UK, all with a strong focus on building community, celebrating place, enabling creativity and promoting sustainable and ethical business. Recent work has seen us collaborate with The National Archives, Social Work England, Shelter and Dreamland Margate as well as establishing the new and hugely successful First Light Festival in Lowestoft.