Stalybridge on parade at hugely successful arts festival

Date Released - 12/09/2023

SUNSHINE and huge crowds gave a wonderfully warm welcome to Farrah the fox and friends as they paraded through Stalybridge as part of the vibrant Weave arts festival last weekend.


The giant puppets led a spectacular procession of music and dancing, which culminated in carnival performances and creative activities in Armentieres Square.


The event, on Saturday 9 September, was part of Historic England’s collaborative ‘Hi! Street Fest’ project to celebrate high streets and the people who love and look after them. It was delivered in partnership with Tameside Council, the Bridge Cultural Consortium, Mossley based arts organisation Global Grooves and outdoor arts company Emergency Exit Arts (EEA).


Stalybridge was just one of six town nationally chosen to host an event, which helped to build on its High Street Heritage Action Zone and Greater Manchester Town of Culture legacy.

Farrah the fox – a 5m high puppet -  wowed spectators as she zoomed into the town on a scooter as part of her journey across the country to all the Hi! Street Fest events. She was greeted by Charlie the millboy puppet and his friend Maude – who represents cotton workers across the global community. Together the friendly characters showcased the town’s cotton heritage and its vibrant cultural scene of today.
Weave was part of a wider weekend of cultural activity including the monthly Stalybridge Street Fest food festival on the Friday evening and Heritage Open Days, which involved the library, Astley Cheetham Art Gallery and local churches being open to the public.
Cllr Sangita Patel, Tameside Council’s Assistant Executive Member for Heritage, Culture and Digital Inclusivity, said: “What a wonderful weekend for Stalybridge and for Tameside. The celebratory carnival atmosphere was fantastic and it was brilliant to see so many people and families lining the streets, enjoying the festivities and what Stalybridge has to offer.


“Feedback has been fantastic, with people feeling proud of their town and community and local businesses commenting on how busy the town centre was.


“Thank you to everyone involved, including the community performers who took part. We have amazing local heritage, culture and talent and the weekend really put the spotlight on the town not just locally but regionally and nationally too.”

Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s Regional Director for the North West said: “I was thrilled to see so many people coming together in sunny Stalybridge to celebrate Hi! Fest.  It was a real pleasure to meet local people, Tameside councillors and Jonathan Reynolds MP.  The event demonstrated the power of creativity and heritage to draw people into their high street.”