A new festival? In the North? That’s not like your usual festival? At MediaCity? That sounds right up our street!
Carousel was brought on board to help launch the inaugural We Invented the Weekend, the bold and imaginative free festival for the UK held in Salford.
The premise? Celebrate the things we do in our free time, in the place where the weekend was invented – a dream of a news hook!
Salford Lyceum director and workers’ rights activist Robert Lowes (also Sir Ian McKellen’s Great Great Grandfather) campaigned to win mill workers the right to leisure time on Saturday afternoons. In this triumph, Greater Manchester gave an enormous gift to the world and We Invented the Weekend honoured this, in true style, celebrating leisure time, free time, quality time, and me-time.
With more than 160 event and content partners – from household names, such as BBC, RHS and Sounds From The Other, to community-run organisations – We Invented the Weekend put on over 200 free activities for visitors as the cost-of-living crisis was at its peak.
The breadth of the programming saw an array of exciting performances and participatory moments , including showcases from the BBC Philharmonic, Factory International, Sounds From The Other City, and community dance groups. Charity Super.Mkt’s first venture into the North created a buzz and great support for ten different charities, while CBeebies Bedtime Stories LIVE and painting classes at The Lowry captivated the kids and families throughout the weekend.
But even with a great news hook the UK’s festival news scene is a highly competitive – there are currently more 1,000 festivals to visit. So, without ‘headliners’ to announce like a traditional music festival Carousel needed to craft a creative and strategic press office that delivered a strong cadence of regional and national news to draw attention to this festival with a difference.
From programme and line-up announcements, to pre-festival interviews with Wayne himself, press trips to enjoy a weekend in the city where the weekend was invented, to press accreditation and on-site press office, Carousel delivered more than 100 pieces of coverage, 2.1bn in reach, and 20 press and influencers on site
The brainchild of the wonderful Wayne Hemingway MBE and other regional partners, the festival was designed to help boost MediaCity’s placemaking strategy – and we certainly helped it achieve its goal.
With 60,000 visitors in attendance across the two days of the festival – which was held in June 2023 – the festival helped MediaCity to achieve its highest footfall in its 12 year history as well as deliver a total impact of more than £3.2 million* for the local economy in its inaugural year.
What’s more, a third of attendees to We Invented the Weekend were from Salford, with a significant 25% of visitors classed as visiting from outside of Greater Manchester, further highlighting the draw of the festival and its unique programme in exposing new audiences to MediaCity and the wider Salford Quays.
And the good news…it’ll be back in 2024 with Carousel managing the comms again.