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

We Invented the Weekend: The Festival 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, the Royal Horticultural Society, Eat Well MCR, Unity Radio, Science and Industry Museum, The Open University Business School, HOST, Salford Community Leisure, Salford CVS, Sounds from the Other City 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, from Salford, taking place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September 2022. The brand-new two-day event will throw open MediaCity and Salford Quays’ spaces and places, to celebrate the joy of free time, taking in sports, music, comedy, theatre, dance, workshops, talks, food, charity, wellness, crafts and more.

From water sports on the canal, community feasts and dance performances, to getting your hands dirty with planting workshops and finding gems at vintage markets, festival-goers will meet new people, try new things and make memories together.

The weekend was invented in Greater Manchester 1843, when Salford Lyceum director and workers’ rights activist Robert Lowes (also Sir Ian McKellen’s Great Grandfather) campaigned to win 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 will honour this, in true style, celebrating leisure time, free time, quality time and me-time.

Organisations large and small from across the region are coming together to deliver the inaugural festival at MediaCity and Salford Quays, which will be free and open to all. With large parts of the programme co-created with Salford’s and Greater Manchester’s communities, alongside content delivered by its internationally renowned culture producers, it will be a festival by the people, for the people, celebrating the region’s rich diversity and making sure to acknowledge the millions of people across the UK who work on Saturdays and Sundays too.

Key people and organisations involved in developing the festival are Wayne Hemingway MBE who is Creative Director, Salford’s City Mayor, Paul Dennett, Tom Stannard, Chief Executive, Salford City Council, Julia Fawcett OBE, Chief Executive of The Lowry, Gwen Oakden, Development Director at The Lowry, Controller of BBC Radio 5 Live Heidi Dawson, Marketing Manchester’s International Marketing Director, Victoria Braddock and MediaCity Place Director, Josie Cahill.

A process is also underway for a young person and member of the Salford community to join the soon to be announced board, plus a community steering group made up of diverse representatives from across the city will advise the board. We Invented the Weekend Festival Director is Kate Doyle who was previously Head of Festivals and Events for the Science and Industry Museum and has an impressive track record of festival delivery including MIF’s Festival Square 2021, Unity Arena and Festival No.6.

The full programme announcement will take place in early Summer and partners and activity for the festival will include:

  • The BBC, including BBC Children’s bringing live activity including CBeebies Live Bedtime Stories, the BBC Philharmonic and more to be announced
  • The Lowry, leading on dance and performance
  • The University of Salford, who will collaborate with The Open University’s Business School on a Big Thinking strand
  • The Science and Industry Museum who will programme a range of fun STEM activities
  • RHS Bridgewater, leading on gardening activity
  • HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, who will deliver a programme of fun and accessible technology activities
  • An exciting music partnership with Sounds from the Other City which will see the Salford institution expand from their Chapel Street base into the Quays for the first time.
  • And much more to be announced

There will be plenty of opportunities for people across Salford and Greater Manchester to participate at We Invented the Weekend. The Salford Weekend Orchestra with the BBC Philharmonic will invite people across the city to join a mass community performance, with all instruments and abilities welcome. The piece will be composed by Michael Betteridge (Artistic Director of The Sunday Boys – Manchester’s LBTQ+ low voice choir), and performed in the MediaCity Piazza during the festival.

Salford Community and Voluntary Services, in partnership with Salford Community Leisure, have reached out to hundreds of community organisations across the city, with exciting contributions in the works from a whole range of groups – cheerleaders to readers, gamers to bakers, litter pickers to disco dancers and everything in between.

Wayne Hemingway MBE, Creative Director, We Invented the Weekend: “The weekend is an intrinsic part of the rhythm of life. It’s hard to imagine life without the weekend, yet less than 180 years ago it didn’t exist. Happily, Sir Ian McKellen’s great grandad put an end to life without it.

“Greater Manchester can rightly claim to have invented the weekend and is a place that knows how to celebrate it. Whatever your bag, be it boxing or box sets, crafts or cricket, dancing or digging, reading or raving, swimming or samba, kicking back or letting loose, whatever free time means to you, MediaCity and Salford Quays is the place to be on September 10th and 11th for what has all the ingredients to become THE national celebration of free time.”

Julia Fawcett OBE, CEO, The Lowry: “At The Lowry, we believe in the powerful influence of arts and culture on wellbeing and happiness. Through our annual programme and the breadth of outreach work we deliver, we’re dedicated to cultural enrichment for all of Salford’s communities all year round.

“The Lowry is so proud to be one of the lead partners for We Invented the Weekend, delivering the performance strand of the festival with off-site programming and free creative participation opportunities. As we emerge from the pandemic, this new festival is a wonderful way to come together with our key cultural partners in the city to enhance our annual calendar of cultural events.”

Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor: “The City of Salford’s motto and the name of our strategy for culture, creativity and the arts is ‘Suprema Lex’, which means ‘The Welfare of the People is the Highest Law’. The welfare of the people of Salford is paramount, and as the cost of living rises, We Invented the Weekend is set to deliver a programme of essential free cultural and creative activity that is open to every community across our city.

We Invented the Weekend will be a great spectacle, reflecting our proud social history, whilst also animating the fantastic public realm at Salford Quays in true Spirit of Salford style.”

Victoria Braddock, Director of International Marketing, Marketing Manchester: “We Invented the Weekend is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Salford and Greater Manchester to the world. The invention of the weekend is an incredible legacy, and we’re excited to be celebrating all of Salford’s brilliant and creative communities on a national and international stage.”

Ben Allan, LGBTQ+ Officer for University of Salford Students’ Union: “We are incredibly excited to be part of We Invented the Weekend, it’s a much-needed celebration of the talent, creativity and community in Salford that absolutely everyone is invited to come and participate in.”

Heidi Dawson, Controller BBC Radio 5 Live: “We Invented the Weekend is a vital new addition to the cultural calendar, reaching out to everyone across Greater Manchester, creating a free event that is open to all. Now more than ever, it is essential that our communities are able to come together and celebrate their free time, with no ticket costs, at this event that the BBC excited to support.”

Katie Thistleton, BBC Radio 1 Presenter: “I’m hugely passionate about MediaCity and Salford Quays. Working here has massively influenced both my career and my home life, and I can’t wait to be part of this ambitious new event, re-igniting our community and bringing audiences from across Salford together to celebrate their free time.”

Josie Cahill, Director of Place, MediaCity: “Working in partnership to deliver inclusive and ambitious events such as We Invented the Weekend is at the heart of our placemaking plans both now, and for the future.

“Last year marked ten years since the first broadcast from MediaCity. We’ve been on an incredible regeneration journey, and it’s time to celebrate that. As we look ahead to our next phase of development, which will double MediaCity in size over the next decade, it’s our ambition is to continue to create vibrant and sustainable spaces that are welcome to all.”

To find out more about the festival and sign up for updates, please visit


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 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 University of Salford 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.

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