2024 Rochdale Borough Festival of Ideas unveils its stellar cast

The Rochdale Town Hall is set to reopen with a bang as it hosts a vibrant and unique festival. The festival, centered around the themes of imagination, creation, and discovery, will offer visitors over 20 events to enjoy, including visual arts, live music performances, thought-provoking talks, and interactive installations. The festival aims to celebrate originality and imagination, ensuring a truly memorable experience for all attendees.

Opening in style on Monday evening, the festival will kick off with a spectacular light show at the Rochdale Town Hall. The show, accompanied by a specially created soundtrack, will mark the official reopening of the iconic building. After the show, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the town hall and become among the first members of the public to step foot inside the beautifully restored Victorian Gothic masterpiece.

Throughout the festival, the world-renowned Black Dyke Brass Band will be performing two special evening concerts at the Rochdale Town Hall. Additionally, the festival will engage with 1,850 school children, encouraging them to generate 10,000 brilliant ideas. These ideas will be nurtured through hands-on workshops led by local artists, culminating in a giant sculpture on display at the town hall.

One of the festival’s highlights will be the world premiere of ‘The Living Dress,’ an outdoor installation featuring a large-scale naturally-dyed handmade dress worn by a magnificent 5-meter high sculpture. Created using sustainable dyeing processes and a blend of ancient techniques and modern practices, this installation promises to be a stunning sight.

Other notable events include Fluid Motion Theatre’s performance installation titled ‘Take Ten,’ which invites attendees to relax on colorful swing chairs and embrace their mental wellbeing. Muslim Hikers, the largest community in the world for Muslims interested in the outdoors, will be hosting a Beginner’s Hike, aiming to improve diversity in rural spaces and foster community connections. Power Up, a fast-paced event, will allow participants to try their hand at various ESports games and learn about game creation and new technologies.

Number One Riverside will host ‘Theatre Electric,’ an immersive virtual reality experience that takes players on a journey through a dystopian future. This cutting-edge experience challenges players’ perspectives on the world and their own actions. Move Manchester will present ‘Zugzwang,’ a dynamic dance performance set on a giant chess board, supported by M6 Theatre.

The festival will also showcase local talent through commissioned ideas, including ‘The Maker Games,’ a battle of creativity and ingenuity, and an art installation by Peter King inspired by a local beauty spot. African Fashion Week, hosted by the Nigeria Community Association, will offer sustainable sewing and fashion workshops, culminating in a fashion show on International Women’s Day.

The festival aims to celebrate Rochdale’s rich music heritage with the ‘Rochdale Wall of Sound,’ an installation that highlights the town’s role in the music industry. Author-illustrator Emma Reynolds will host a comic-making workshop centered around climate activism and the power of imagination.

All events are free, with most not requiring booking. The festival has been supported by The Culture Co-op, Rochdale borough’s Creative People and Places Programme, and has received funding from Arts Council England, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Councillor Janet Emsley, the council’s cabinet member for equity, safety, and reform, expressed her excitement for the festival, stating that it offers an exciting and innovative program for all ages. The festival is organized by the council and produced by Outdoor Places Unusual Spaces Ltd. To stay updated, search #RochdaleIdeas on social media.

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