The 2022 Darnhill Festival festival took place on Saturday 2nd July in Darnhill, Heywood, attracting over 2000 people to the area.
The theme for the festival was ‘connections’, with a huge range of activities and performances promoting connection to each other, to stories, to play and to the earth.
Darnhill Festival takes place each year in Darnhill, Heywood. It is organised by Darnhill Festival Association with Cartwheel Arts and funded by Arts Council England. It's free to attend and all are welcome.
This year marked the festival’s return after a two-year absence due to Covid.
This year’s celebrations opened with a parade through Darnhill, led by a brand new banner created at the Community Café in Darnhill Library. The procession included local residents, Manchester School of Samba, clog dancers and folk musicians from Oakenhoof, circus performers from Skylight Circus Arts, and children from local schools with costumes, banners and decorations they’d spent the past few weeks creating for this year’s parade.
The Mayor of Rochdale Ali Ahmed opened the festival with a speech praising the resilience and vibrancy of the community in coming together to create and support the Festival. There were a huge number of activities across Darnhill including free workshops for samba, archery and circus skills, a huge number of arts activities, as well as storytelling, bouncy castles and face painting.
Poet John Lindley performed a new poem, part of Letters of Connection, a series of pieces commissioned specially for this year’s Festival. This was written as part of a number of workshops with the neighbourhood’s elderly community and then used as the basis for creative writing workshops in schools in the area. The resulting pieces written by local children were exhibited in the Festival’s Storytelling Tent for visitors to see.
Visitors attending this year’s Darnhill Festival also enjoyed bouncy castles, face painting, Inflatable Hungry Hippos and a playground of illusions from Travelling Light Circus which sat alongside a range of arts activities.
People took part in painting, badge-making, creating felt flowers, t-shirt printing, samba drumming and dancing, circus skills and more.
There were also live performances from a raft of musical artists including the Flat Cap Three, Rubella and The Dave May Band.
One of the artists running workshops at the Festival was Venessa Scott, a prolific public artist whose bright and bold works can be found across the north including MediaCity, HOME and Rochdale Canal among others. She is also known for her appearances on CBeebies where she can be seen helping young children discover and explore colour thought art on the show Colours.
She has also been officially recognised as a Great Mancunian, putting her alongside the likes of Maxine Peake, Andy Burnham and others who have had a significant cultural and creative impact on the City of Manchester and its surrounding areas.
We are very grateful to all the funders of this fantastic community festival: Arts Council England, the National Lottery Community Fund, The Guinness Partnership, Curious Minds, Grow Wild, Rochdale Borough Culture Network and Heywood Township.