What a day it was. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of the city centre for the eighth annual Manchester day parade.
And for once it didn’t rain on our parade. In fact it felt more like Rio than Manchester as the city baked in temperatures in the high 20s.
Huge crowds created a magical atmosphere as they enjoyed the fantastic floats, amazing costumes, musicians and more than 80 local community groups weaved their way down Deansgate, through Albert Square and perform across multiple city square locations.
This year’s parade was certainly a very special one. It was led by a tribute honouring those who lost their lives during the Manchester Arena attack, as well as those who were injured, along with their families and the heroic efforts of the emergency services.
22 young people held balloons aloft while carrying a banner bearing the words “MANCHESTER REMEMBERS”, followed by members from the emergency services as a thank you for their heroic efforts after the attack.
The driving principle behind this hugely popular civic celebration is inclusivity and participation, with contributions from groups representing the city’s diverse cultures as well as groups representing people with disabilities, homeless people and immigrant communities.
Setting the scene of this year’s ABRACADBRA theme, the lead float was a huge blue genie brimming with mysterious magic, while charmed carpets flew around its base.
Other highlights included the Manchester Malayalee Association whose fire headdresses came all the way from Brazil, and were part of a celebratory ritual of the Keralan deity Theyyam. The head pieces themselves were made by students from the Rio de Janeiro-based carnival company Spectaculu.
Stanley Grove Primary Academy and Rushbrook Primary Academy brought back to life the story of Maharajah the elephant, who – unable to fit on a train – apparently walked all the way from Edinburgh to Manchester to be part of the Belle Vue Zoological Gardens.
The Europia group brought wild magic to the streets of Manchester inspired by their Eastern European roots as a commuter in his car magically transfigured into a living tree.
There were plenty of bees on display. The Wiltz Bee flew through the parade, led by a group from the Manchester Chinese Centre. The bee, which is similar to the iconic emblem of our city, was sent from Luxembourg by the people of Wiltz to show their solidarity with the people of Manchester.
The event spilled over filling the public squares as the celebrations stretched across the city centre for the afternoon. The crowds were spoilt by a spell-binding array of performance and entertainment – along with delicious food – in St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square and Cathedral Gardens.
Highlights in the squares included The Magic Circle in Exchange Square, where amateur magicians were put through their paces in front of the Manchester Day crowds. The acrobatic stunts of Circus House wowed the crowds, while the day’s finale – a feat of escapology from Dr Diablo – kept people holding their breaths.
The event, which is commissioned by Manchester City Council and produced by local outdoor arts experts Walk the Plank, has evolved into so much more than a parade. It has attracted internationally renowned artists and guests from other countries, including Brazil and Ireland, who have come to see how Manchester puts on such a huge celebration, and to be part of the show.
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