Music, poetry and speeches as Wigan Diggers Festival returns to honour Gerrard Winstanley

The life of Wigan socialist Gerrard Winstanley will be celebrated with music, speeches and other entertainment as the popular Diggers Festival returns this weekend.

Organisers have pledged the 11th annual event will be “the best ever” as it honours the life and values of one of the country’s most influential writers and activists.

Whatever the weather, there will be a day of entertainment, including music, poetry and community stalls, from 11.15am to 9.30pm on Saturday on Believe Square, in Wigan town centre.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Read More
Plans revealed for festival to celebrate Wigan borough's mining heritage
It will be the 11th time the festival has been held

Paul Hilton, from the Diggers Festival, said: “We are proud to welcome everyone to our 11th Wigan Diggers Festival, which promises to be our best ever.

“Apart from music and poetry across two stages, we have fringe activities and discussions taking place in the museum, Wigan Parish Church and The Edge conference centre.”

There will be several talks at the Museum of Wigan Life, on Library Street, while Eric Foster, secretary of Golborne Ex-Miners, will be present to discuss the miners’ strike and 1979 Golborne mining disaster.

Additionally, the film Winstanley will be shown in the auditorium at 12.30pm and 2.15pm.

Crowds at last year's festival

Unite branch 54 has organised a speech entitled Cost of Living Crisis: Enough is Enough! with speakers including MPs Barry Gardiner and John McDonnell.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A variety of music will be on offer throughout the day, including from headliners Jess Silk and The Wakes.

Mr Hilton said: “Over the hundreds of years of radical working-class actions, Wigan has played a leading role in the fight for a just society.

"Gerrard Winstanley and the Digger Movement being one of the most famous example, but there are many unsung heroes, and our festival exists both to keep the memory alive of those who’ve gone before and support workers in struggle today.”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at last year's festival
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The festival usually attracts hundreds of people wishing to celebrate the life and values of Gerrard Winstanley, a 17th Century pamphleteer and philosopher, who founded the Diggers movement and is well-known for his view that “the Earth was made a common treasury for all”.

Last year former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended and gave a speech about the Diggers movement, while actor Maxine Peake is a festival regular and actors in 17th Century-themed costumes are always in attendance.