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Manchester Day 2022 – sneak preview of this year’s spectacular parade highlights

This year's Manchester Day Parade draws strongly on ideas of Mancunian identity, and of stories past and present

Manchester Day returns this Sunday 19th June, and now the full programme for the day – including some of the highlights from the spectacular parade that will wind its way in a riot of music, colour and dance through the city centre – has been revealed.

Organisers are pulling out all the stops to make sure the city centre will be buzzing all day long with plenty of things to see and do, as well as making sure the much-loved Manchester Day Parade is the most memorable yet.

This year’s parade draws strongly on ideas of Mancunian identity, and of stories past and present – a parade in which everyone in the city, whether they’re taking part in the parade or watching it, can recognise themselves. 

Photo: Mark Waugh

Each of the main floats has a story that reflects Manchester’s place in the world, as seen by the diverse communities that make up the city.

Think gondolas (in Manchester!). Think the Town Hall Clock. Think Manchester’s famous railway arches, a steam train full of horses, the Queen Bee, a giant pram, and much more.

The parade will start at 1pm from the corner of Deansgate and the Beetham Tower, making its way down Deansgate, along St Mary’s Gate, up Cross Street, and onto John Dalton Street, before re-joining Deansgate and ending at the Beetham Tower around an hour and a half later.

Manchester Day Parade highlights

Visitors this year can watch the Queen Bee as she reigns over her hive of subjects, resplendent on her upcycled gondola, and see the railway arches of Manchester come alive with eye-catching creations that explore sustainable living and caring in our community.

The part-gondola, part insect design pays homage to the city’s rich industrial heritage and imagines Manchester as a kind of Northern Venice, with a nod to Elizabethan grandeur, both past and present.

Boogie along with bouncing babies and samba beats, and watch out for the Peppered Moths as they make their incredible transformation from white to black.

This float references the story of the Pepper Moth, which evolved to survive the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s, by changing colour from white to a speckled black and grey.

By imitating the soot that stained the buildings and hung in the air of the city, the Pepper Moth learned to navigate a newly-industrialised landscape.

Happily, now that the air in Manchester is cleaner in 2022, the Pepper Moth has once again changed colour to a lighter camouflage.

Photo: Mark Waugh

2022 in Manchester is Our Year: a year-long celebration of children and young people across the city. The Playtime float represents the children of our city and the power of play to transform the lives of everyone, young and old, across Manchester.

Designed entirely by the young people of Manchester, the Power of the Future float is a powerful representation of how they see the world at the moment, and their hopes for the future. 

Stephenson’s Rocket was the winner of the famous Rainhill trials and one of the first locomotives to run along the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world’s first passenger train line that opened in 1830. 

The Train float pays homage to the iconic design of Rocket and also gives a nod to the horses who used to pull goods up and down the Manchester Ship Canal, before the railway was built, with its carriages full of holidaying horses.

The Arches takes inspiration from the railway arches that are an integral part of the fabric of Manchester and reflects how they are being adapted for a greener, more sustainable future.

Home Sweet Home is just that: a home where everyone is accepted and included.

The Creative Director behind this year’s parade is the internationally acclaimed and award-winning production designer Dan Potra, whose past work includes the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, three Commonwealth Games – the 2018 Gold Coast games, Melbourne 2006, and Delhi 2010 – as well as production design on the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the 2008 opening and closing ceremonies of the Liverpool European Capital of Culture.

“Each of the main floats has a very clear backstory,” says Dan.

“Starting with the Queen Bee Gondola, and ending with Home Sweet Home, which is just that – Manchester, the home of everyone living and working in the city, everyone accepted and everyone included.”

A very special young guest

Photo courtesy Andre Liohn

After a forced three-year absence due to Covid, this year’s parade promises to be an absolute show-stopper as it also welcomes, for their very first Manchester Day, a very special young guest who last year made her home in the city after an epic 8,000 km journey across Europe from Syria.

Little Amal – the 3.4 metre high puppet of a Syrian girl refugee who arrived in Manchester last summer – will be out and about in the city centre during the day, where she will happen upon the Parade in a spectacular fashion – before taking in all the sights and sounds of the unforgettable annual parade as it makes its way through the city streets.

With the spotlight for the return of Manchester Day this year firmly fixed on children and young people as part of the city’s year-long 2022 Our Year campaign, and as Manchester works towards becoming a UNICEF recognised child-friendly city, event organisers are asking the city’s children and young people to look out for Little Amal and be ready to extend the hand of friendship to her, and show her the true spirit of Manchester and how the city likes to celebrate.

Outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank have been working with community groups and local artists throughout the past few months to help them perfect their all-important parade routines and to make the fabulous parade floats that Manchester Day is famous for, all in preparation for the big day. 

What’s on where

Photo: Mark Waugh

Young people themselves are playing a big part in all aspects of this year’s Manchester Day. 

As well as helping make some of the fantastic costumes and parade floats, taking part in the parade itself, singing, dancing, and helping to choreograph it, young people have also been given the special job of curating all the activity on the day that will take place in the event space on Piccadilly Gardens.

They’ve programmed an epic day of sounds, moves, and more, from street dance and soulful acoustic sets, to urban positive rapping, an Instagram wall – great for those picture-perfect snaps – and a graffiti wall for young people to express what Manchester means to them through art and creativity. 

The packed programme of exciting and fun activities throughout the day also includes a climbing wall for those who are feeling a bit more energetic, along with sports sessions and fun games for all courtesy of MCR Active, and face-painting.

Across the city centre, Cathedral Gardens will come alive throughout the day with free entertainment for all ages from 11 am – 5 pm. 

Try your hand at circus skills, feel the beat with live dance and music, and be entertained as you explore the food and drink stalls on offer.  You’ll also be able to meet the Climate Change Mythbuster to help debunk some popular myths about what we can do in the face of the climate emergency.

Over in Exchange Square explore exciting, sponsor led activities and discover the Manchester Letters, a magnificent installation of human sized love letters to the city, created by three local artists in 2021 as part of the Thank You Manchester Weekender.

‘Get together and celebrate everything we love about Manchester’

Photo: Mark Waugh

 “What a long three years it’s been!” said Councillor Pat Karney, Chair of Manchester Day.

“As the sun set on Manchester Day in 2019, we never dreamt it would be another three years before we would be able to get together and celebrate everything we love about our diverse city and its brilliant communities who together help make Manchester the best place in the world to be.

“This year we’re dedicating it to the city’s children and young people, who have missed out on so much through the pandemic. 

“It’s been a really tough couple of years for them and we’re determined to help them smile again and have some fun.

“We’ve got tons of things going on all day right across the city centre, including of course the return of our legendary Manchester Day parade.  

“We can’t wait to welcome everyone back for Manchester’s favourite free day out – it’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally here and Manchester Day 2022 promises to be the best – magnificently Mancunian and utterly unmissable.

“Come on down!”

Manchester Day will take place on Sunday 19th June 2022. 

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