Rochdale Borough Festival of Ideas


Rochdale town centre, Greater Manchester, OL16 1XU
Festival of Ideas logo.


The line-up has been revealed for the new Rochdale Borough Festival of Ideas, which is being staged from Monday 4 to Saturday 9 March to accompany the official re-opening of Rochdale Town Hall.

Around the themes of imagine, create and discover; visitors to the free festival will be able to experience more than 20 events, including visual arts, music, live performances, thought-provoking talks, interactive installations and more, as originality and imagination are celebrated.

The festival opens in eye-catching style on Monday evening with a bold and colourful light show at Rochdale Town Hall to mark its re-opening. The light show will be set to a new soundtrack created especially for the event and afterwards visitors will be able to explore the building and be among the first members of the public through the doors of the re-born Victorian Gothic Grade I-listed masterpiece.

During the festival the world famous Black Dyke Brass Band will be performing two special evening concerts at Rochdale Town Hall.  

In a mass act of celebration of young people’s ideas, the festival is working with 1,850 school children to generate 10,000 brilliant ideas. Embracing creative thinking, every one of the ideas will nurture ingenuity and innovation with hands-on workshops led by local artists before all the ideas will be displayed as part of one giant sculpture on display at Rochdale Town Hall that will be available to view.

The festival will also see a world premiere of a stunning outdoor installation - ‘The Living Dress,’ a large-scale naturally-dyed, handmade dress worn by a beautiful huge five-metre high sculpture. Using sustainable dyeing processes, the dress will be made with the help of local women using a hybrid of ancient techniques and modern practices.  

Fluid Motion Theatre will present their performance installation in four locations across the borough. ‘Take Ten’ invites you to relax and take a moment on colourful swing chairs, guided by a soundtrack that encourages you to sit comfortably, swing gently and breathe deeply. The ground-breaking artistic performance is created in collaboration with Lorna Rees of Gobbledegook Theatre, around the idea of mental wellbeing, underpinned by the ‘Five steps to mental wellbeing.’

Muslim Hikers, the largest community in the world for Muslims interested in the outdoors, will be holding a Beginners’ Hike, aiming to improve the diversity in rural spaces, while tackling loneliness and connecting communities. Trained guides will lead you on a gentle hike through some of the borough’s beauty spots, connecting you to each other and the surrounding green spaces.

Power Up - a fast-paced and engaging event where you can try your hand at an exciting range of ESports games will be hosted in partnership with Hopwood Hall College. Perfect for the inquisitive, the curious and the competitive you’ll be able to learn what it takes to create a brilliant game, discover how new technology is being used, and play a range of games.

Number One Riverside in Rochdale will host ‘Theatre Electric; an immersive virtual reality experience taking players (groups of up to six) on a journey through a dystopian future where humanity has destroyed the world through apathy and ignorance. Using cutting-edge technology it promises a unique and thrilling adventure that will challenge players' perspectives on the world and their own actions.

Move Manchester will presents ‘Zugzwang’ – a dynamic dance performance set on a giant chess board. Following the highs, lows, wins and losses of a chess game between two compelling characters it has been commissioned and supported by M6 Theatre.

The festival will be showcasing ideas homegrown in the borough. Last year festival organisers asked local artists and groups to submit their ideas, with five selected. These ideas have been commissioned in partnership with The Culture Co-op, Rochdale borough’s Creative People and Places Programme, funded by Arts Council England. 

Ideas commissioned for the festival include ‘The Maker Games’ - a battle of creativity and ingenuity as teams battle it out in front of a live audience. A mix of Scrapheap Challenge and Taskmaster, intergenerational teams of families, friends and strangers will throw themselves into an evening of games celebrating innovation and ideas! You can enter and compete as one of the teams or you can sit back, relax and enjoy watching the contest.

Local artist Peter King will be displaying his new art installation inspired by a recent visit to at one of his favourite local beauty spots. Peter visited a lesser-known stretch of the River Roch that teems with wildlife for sanctuary and inspiration. The installation features a giant, shimmering Kingfisher, similar to ones that can sometimes be spotted on the banks of the river. The model has a special coating developed by NASA scientists that shifts to different colours depending on the viewing angle. Much like the bird itself, the installation comes to life in the direct path of sunlight, projecting its dazzling effects onto the floor below. 


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