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New Salford festival We Invented the Weekend celebrates the joy of free time

The free festival will offer everything from water sports on the canal to community feasts and dance performances

A brand-new two-day event this September will throw open MediaCityUK 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.

We Invented the Weekend is a free festival, incorporating everything 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.

The weekend was invented in Greater Manchester in 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, celebrating leisure time, free time, quality time and me-time.

Photo by Jack Kirwin -JK Photography-

Organisations large and small from across the region are coming together to deliver the inaugural festival at MediaCityUK 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.

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.

Photo © BBC, Mark McNulty

The Lowry will lead dance and performance, the University of Salford will collaborate with The Open University Business School on a Big Thinking strand, and the Science and Industry Museum will programme a range of fun STEM activities.

RHS Bridgewater will lead gardening activity, and HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, will deliver a programme of fun and accessible technology activities.

An exciting music partnership with Sounds from the Other City will see the Salford institution expand from their Chapel Street base into the Quays for the first time.

Photo: Breige Cobane

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. 

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.  

“The weekend is an intrinsic part of the rhythm of life,” said Wayne Hemingway MBE, Creative Director, We Invented the Weekend.

“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.”

We Invented the Weekend: The Festival of Free Time will take place at MediaCity and Salford Quays, Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September 2022. To find out more and sign up for updates, visit

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