Innovative concepts take form at Rochdale’s latest festival.

More than 20 free family-friendly events were held, showcasing captivating visual arts, live music, theatre performances, games, enlightening talks, dance, and interactive installations. The festival kicked off with a vibrant light show at Rochdale Town Hall, attended by over 1,000 visitors. The performances were accompanied by a new soundtrack from Daniel Mawson and a spoken word piece by Jenny Berry, blending Rochdale’s past achievements with hopes for the future as the town hall enters a new chapter. The legendary Black Dyke Band played two sold-out concerts, recreating history as the same band performed at the building’s opening in 1871.

A giant sculpture displayed 10,000 brilliant ideas generated by 1,850 school children, celebrating youth creativity. ‘The Living Dress,’ a large naturally-dyed garment worn by a 5-metre high sculpture, made its world premiere on The Esplanade. Fluid Motion Theatre’s ‘Take Ten’ installation encouraged relaxation on colourful swing chairs, promoting mental wellbeing.

Middleton Arena hosted ‘Power Up,’ an event where visitors explored ESports games to learn about game creation and new technology. ‘Theatre Electric’ at Number One Riverside offered an immersive virtual reality experience for all ages. Muslim Hikers led a gentle hike through Littleborough and the Pennines, while Move Manchester’s ‘Zugzwang’ dance performance on a giant chess board captivated audiences.

Local ideas were showcased at events like the ‘Maker Games’ at Castlemere Banqueting Hall, celebrating creativity and ingenuity. African Fashion Week and ‘Rock Dale Wall of Sound’ highlighted Rochdale’s music heritage, while comic-making workshops with Emma Reynolds promoted art as a tool for change. The festival also included salon talks and discussions on creating a greener future.

The closing event featured ‘Speakers’ Corner’ at Pionero Lounge, with guests including Anne Cleary from Rochdale Empire and live music from Kirsty Almeida. Councillor Janet Emsley praised the festival for providing a mix of educational and inspiring events, breaking boundaries and receiving positive feedback. The festival, supported by The Culture Co-op, received government funding and showcased the newly restored Rochdale Town Hall.

The festival’s focus on the climate emergency will continue with a schools debate later in the year. For more information, search #RochdaleIdeas on social media.

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