Diggers Festival returns

Wigan Diggers Festival at The Wiend
Wigan Diggers Festival at The Wiend

THE Wigan Diggers Festival will once again turn the town centre into a crucible of radical ideas to celebrate the life of a thinker from the borough.

The event, which marks the achievements of writer and philosopher Gerrard Winstanley who inspired the 17th century Diggers movement, will see alternative thinking celebrated by music, arts and talks tomorrow.

The festival is now in its fourth year and attracted more than 2,000 people to last year’s event, with organisers putting together a packed line-up once again.

Winstanley, who is best known for his comment that: “The Earth was made a common treasury for all”, will be discussed by left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell, who has been invited to open the event, and documentary maker and author David Malone. The talks will look at how the Diggers’ ideas inspired 18th-century revolutions in France and America and continue to influence working-class movements today.

Actor John Graham Davies will reenact the digging of common land, which gave the Diggers movement its name and has led some historians to dub them the world’s first socialists, in the role of Gerrard Winstanley.

Other activities on The Wiend include two stages of music and poetry with more than 20 acts performing, a puppet theatre, arts projects for children and a procession through the town centre.

A host of organisations will be running stalls outside the Wigan Life Centre, with festival-goers able to find out more about everything from the situations in Palestine and Cuba to credit unions, environmental campaigns and radical political parties and trade unions as well as browse a selection of independent crafts, clothing and books.

The popular Occupie Wigan beer tent will also return with the town’s breweries creating specially-commissioned ales for the festival.

There will also be a number of fringe events taking place at The Boulevard and Tudor House Hotel from 10pm after the official programme has finished to for those wishing to continue the discussions and celebrations.

The Wigan Diggers Festival takes place on The Wiend tomorrow from 11am until 9.30pm. The event is free.

To view the full programme or find out more, visit wigandiggersfestival.org or www.facebook.com/wigandiggersfestival or follow the event on Twitter @WiganDigger