Wigan Arts Festival unveils packed programme

There are loads of events coming to the borough in what promises to be an exciting cultural event.

An image from the We Are Nature photography exhibition
An image from the We Are Nature photography exhibition

The full programme for a spectacular two-week celebration of culture taking place across the borough has been unveiled.

Wigan Arts Festival will involve dozens of events spread over a fortnight between July 31 and August 14.

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Among the highlights of the packed programme are digital culture trails, a high-profile outdoor music gig, theatre performances and an unusual exploration of the borough’s canals.

The organisers say they are looking forward to bringing people together once more as the country slowly moves out of lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions to enjoy the arts both indoors and outdoors.

The festival is the result of a collaboration between a large number of cultural organisations in the borough.

Jonny Davenport, artistic director at The Old Courts, said: “Wigan Arts Festival is a genuine reason for Wigan and Leigh to get excited.

We Will Always Be Together is still on at The Fire Within HQ

“Despite the difficulties of recent months, all involved have worked hard to deliver a fantastic offer to lift the spirits.

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“It’s been fantastic to work with the festival partners and contributors this year and the packed programme is a real display of what can be achieved with team work and genuine collaborations.

“We’ve got over 60 events with live music, dance, theatre, exhibitions and so much more happening right across the borough.

“Artists and organisations from Wigan and Leigh are joined by renowned names from around the UK for a mammoth programme.”

There will be a digital dance trail at Wigan Arts Festival
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Live music will come to Mesnes Field, next to the former University Technical College (UTC) in Wigan, for Out and About With The Old Courts.

Headliners The Magic Numbers will be joined on the bill by Red Rum Club, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, Jeramiah Ferarri, Lux, Pink Shirts For Pale People and DJ Clint Boon.

The Den, a pop-up theatre experience by the Royal Exchange at Leigh Spinners Mill, will put on shows throughout the festival and The Duke’s Theatre Company will bring a lively outdoor version of Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet to Haigh Hall’s gardens.

Cross Street Arts in Standish is hosting an exhibition exploring the concept of bubbles while photography fans can head to parallel shows We Are Nature and Return to Nature.

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Wigan and Leigh College photography students have been exploring the idea of immersion in green spaces and interviewing people in Mesnes Park, where the exhibition also takes place, while work by residents from across the borough will be shown at Pennington Flash and Haigh Woodland Park.

The floating laboratory WetLab will also be at the popular Leigh beauty spot with artists from public works and Assembly leading workshops looking at future uses of the borough’s canals.

Tiny travelling museum installation Cap and Dove, created by artist Joshua Sofaer,, will visit the borough celebrating the legacy of Peterloo and exploring the ideas around protest, legacy and equality.

A digital art trail is being created in empty shops and green spaces across the borough, Leigh Film Society is helping bring communities together after Covid with sing-along musical screenings at Leigh Town Hall and there are workshops for writers and artists creating images for a new youth cafe in Leigh.

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Arts fans can also continue to visit The Fire Within HQ exhibition We Will Always Be Together.

There will also be a digital dance trail allowing people to enjoy performances in the locations where they were filmed, while artists Anna FC Smith and Helen Mather are running workshops for young people and doing a performance in Civic Square in Leigh as part of their ongoing project These Lancashire Women are Witches in Politics.

For more information about Wigan Arts Festival, including the full programme and ticket information, visit the festival website www.wiganarts.com

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