Kate Doyle, festival director of We Invented The Weekend, discusses the new event set for Salford Quays and MediaCity this September

Tell StandOut about We Invented The Weekend – how did the festival come about and how did you get involved?
We Invented The Weekend is a brand new festival from Salford. The name comes the fact that the weekend was born in Greater Manchester, when in 1843 an advocate for mill workers’ rights fought for Saturday afternoons to be given as free time for leisure. The idea for the festival originated with MediaCity’s place director, Josie Cahill, who felt the site was ready to host a large- scale event that celebrates Salford and fills MediaCity and the Quays with all the things that make the weekend great. It’s been proudly supported by Salford City Council and MediaCity.

I was happily in post as head of festivals and events at the Science and Industry Museum when the festival director at
We Invented The Weekend role was advertised. Within a day of the job spec being live, I had been sent numerous messages by friends and former colleagues suggesting I apply, which was hard to ignore! I submitted my application, came to interview, and had an informal follow up chat. I was very excited to be offered the role and I’ve been festival director since March 1.

What is We Invented The Weekend – what’s the format and when and where does it take place?
We Invented The Weekend is a celebration of all the things we love to do with our time off – listen to music, cook, eat, get together, shop, play, read, talk, and learn. The festival takes place at MediaCity and Salford Quays on September 10 and 11 and is free and open to all. We’ll have a main stage and use an existing outdoor amphitheatre style area for dance and other large performances. Debates and talks will take place in some of the high spec presentation and studio spaces we have in MediaCity. We’ll have all kinds of other activities happening throughout the site, including demonstrations, workshops, and markets – plus plenty of food traders and bars.

What can people expect from the festival?

It’s ambitious, but we really are going to create a festival where there’s lots for everyone to enjoy – DJs to orchestras, cheerleading to tea dancing, Sunday roasts to the best world food in the north. It will be a hive of activity, with something happening at every turn.

We have some incredible content lined up with partners including the BBC, The Lowry, the University of Salford and the Science and Industry Museum – plus, there’s more partner content in development. Excitingly, we’ve also sent out an open invitation to the 1,000+ community groups who meet in Salford to see if they’d like to get involved too. Our vision is that We Invented The Weekend will be a party to celebrate Greater Manchester’s role in giving the world the weekend – we’re holding it in Salford, and we’re inviting everyone.

How is planning going and what plans do you have in terms of site layout?

Planning is going well. We’re very lucky in that we have lots of room to play with. There are two large plazas, which we’ll be using to full effect for large-scale performances. We have an expansive waterfront along Manchester’s iconic
ship canal – compromising tree-lined promenades and well-loved seating areas. We’re using inside space provided by our generous neighbours, which provides brilliant all-weather provision.

What sustainability measures are you considering?
Another benefit of running an event at MediaCity and the Quays is access to lots of hard-wired power, which is a big sustainability win. The site has a range of terrific active travel and public transports routes from all over the city, and we will very much be encouraging our audience to make best use of those. Over and above site-specific infrastructure, one of the festival’s values in that we are a festival for good. Both MediaCity and Hemingway Design live and breathe sustainability and lowering our impact and waste is something I hold very close to my heart. We’ll be driving green initiatives at every opportunity – avoiding single use plastic at all costs, making sure we have a range of planet-friendly foods on offer, using what we have already and aiming to re-use what we might need to buy.

How are you finding the supply chain and which suppliers have you appointed for the event?
So far, so good – though we are aware of the potential for problems down the line so we’re being very mindful of that. It’s well known that the North West is home to brilliant event suppliers; across the team we hold some strong relationships with those suppliers, and we will be spending as much as we can locally (which will also help with our carbon footprint).

Who is working on the event alongside you?
I’ve been a long-standing fan of Hemingway Design’s festival work, so I’m excited to be working with them on
the overarching direction and feel of the festival, its brand and content curation. We’ve appointed ASP Events to look after all things site, operation and production and I’m very much looking forward to working with Alexa Stratton-Powell and Kate Richards again. Josh McAllister is a year- round event manager at MediaCity and so knows the site inside out – he’ll also be an important part of the delivery team.

What will stand out about We Invented the Weekend?
We Invented The Weekend will stand out as a multi-dimensional, culture-led event with something for everyone. It’s a festival for good – proudly northern, reflective of the rich diversity of our communities, and a celebration of what is probably the world’s best-loved social construct, the weekend!