Brand new festival to take over Salford this year – and it’s FREE

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 18th May 2022

A brand new, totally free festival will spill into venues in Salford later this year.

The We Invented the Weekend festival will bring together class acts from the worlds of sports, music, comedy, theatre, dance, workshops, talks, food, charity, wellness, crafts and more.

There’ll be everything from water sports on the canal, to community feasts, to workshops, to vintage markets, to live music, right across MediaCity and Salford Quays.

The event has been created in partnership with some cultural heavyweights from the city, including the BBC, The Lowry, the University of Salford, the Royal Horticultural Society, Eat Well MCR, Science and Industry Museum, The Open University’s Business School, HOST, Salford Community Leisure, Salford CVS, Sounds from the Other City and hundreds of community organisations.

The inaugural festival is set to take place across the weekend of 10 and 11 September. It promises to be ‘a festival by the people, for the people’.

We Invented the Weekend will take over Salford venues – and its waterways. Credit: Supplied

The inspiration for We Invented the Weekend goes all the way back to 1843, when the actual concept of a weekend was invented right here in Greater Manchester.

Robert Lowes (Salford Lyceum director, workers’ rights activist, and also Sir Ian McKellen’s great grandfather) campaigned to win workers the right to leisure time on Saturday afternoons.


A full programme for We Invented the Weekend will be announced in the coming months, but already confirmed is CBeebies Live Bedtime Stories, the BBC Philharmonic, events at The Lowry, activities at the Science and Industry Museum, and gardening activity from RHS Bridgewater.

We Invented the Weekend will suit all ages. Credit: Supplied

Sounds from the Other city will also pull together a music partnership, expanding from their Chapel Street base to the Quays for the first time.

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.


Hundreds of community organisations, including cheerleaders, bakers and disco dancers, have been invited to take part.

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 of 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.

Wayne Hemingway MBE said: “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.

Read more: Manchester festival cancels event – then deletes social media accounts and website

“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.”


Paul Dennett added: “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.”

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

Featured image: Breige Cobane