Manchester Day this weekend - exclusive reveal of this year's spectacular parade highlights

Workers putting final touches to one of the floats

With this year's Manchester Day (Sunday 19 June) now only days away, the full programme for the day - including some of the highlights from the spectacular parade that will wind its way in a riot of music, colour and dance through the city centre - can now be revealed.

Organisers are pulling out all the stops to make sure the city centre will be buzzing all day long with plenty of things to see and do, as well as making sure the iconic Manchester Day Parade is the most memorable yet.

This year's parade draws strongly on ideas of Mancunian identity, and of stories past and present - a parade in which everyone in the city, whether they're taking part in the parade or watching it, can recognise themselves. Each of the main floats has a story that reflects Manchester's place in the world, as seen by the diverse communities that make up the city.

The Creative Director behind this year's parade is the internationally acclaimed and award-winning production designer Dan Potra, whose past work includes the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, three Commonwealth Games - the 2018 Gold Coast games, Melbourne 2006, and Delhi 2010 - as well as production design on the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the 2008 opening and closing ceremonies of the Liverpool European Capital of Culture.

Think gondolas (in Manchester!).  Think the Town Hall Clock.  Think Manchester's famous railway arches, a steam train full of horses, the Queen Bee, a giant pram, and much more.

Prepare to be surprised - behold the Queen Bee as she reigns over her hive of subjects, resplendent on her upcycled gondola. See the railway arches of Manchester come alive with eye-catching creations that explore sustainable living and caring in our community.

Boogie along with bouncing babies and samba beats. Watch out for the Peppered Moths as they make their incredible transformation from white to black. Pollution caused them to change colour during the Industrial Revolution, then back to white again once the air was cleaner.

Check out the holidaying horses, passing by in their train carriage, pulled by an engine powered by human pedal power. A view of the future as human ingenuity replaces fossil fuels in the post-industrial age and we move beyond horsepower and steam. Hitch a ride and take in the view!

The parade will start at 1pm from the corner of Deansgate and the Beetham Tower, making its way down Deansgate, along St Mary's Gate, up Cross Street, and onto John Dalton Street, before re-joining Deansgate and ending at the Beetham Tower around an hour and a half later.

After a forced three-year absence due to Covid, this year's parade promises to be an absolute show-stopper as it also welcomes, for their very first Manchester Day, a very special young guest who last year made her home in the city after an epic 8,000 km journey across Europe from Syria.

Little Amal - the 3.4 metre high puppet of a Syrian girl refugee who arrived in Manchester last summer - will be out and about in the city centre during the day, where she will happen upon the Parade in a spectacular fashion - before taking in all the sights and sounds of the unforgettable annual parade as it makes its way through the city streets.

With the spotlight for the return of Manchester Day this year firmly fixed on children and young people as part of the city's year-long 2022 Our Year campaign, and as Manchester works towards becoming a UNICEF recognised child-friendly city, event organisers are asking the city's children and young people to look out for Little Amal and be ready to extend the hand of friendship to her, and show her the true spirit of Manchester and how the city likes to celebrate.

Young people themselves are playing a big part in all aspects of this year's Manchester Day.  As well as helping make some of the fantastic costumes and parade floats, taking part in the parade itself, singing, dancing, and helping to choreograph it, young people have also been given the special job of curating all the activity on the day that will take place in the event space on Piccadilly Gardens.

They've programmed an epic day of sounds, moves, and more in the space.  From street dance and soulful acoustic sets, to urban positive rapping, an Instagram wall - great for those picture-perfect snaps - and a graffiti wall for young people to express what Manchester means to them through art and creativity.  The packed programme of exciting and fun activities throughout the day also includes a climbing wall for those who are feeling a bit more energetic, along with sports sessions and fun games for all courtesy of MCR Active, and face-painting.

Across the city centre, Cathedral Gardens will come alive throughout the day with free entertainment for all ages from 11 am - 5 pm.  Try your hand at circus skills, feel the beat with live dance and music, and be entertained as you explore the food and drink stalls on offer.  You'll also be able to meet the Climate Change Mythbuster to help debunk some popular myths about what we can do in the face of the climate emergency.

Over in Exchange Square explore exciting, sponsor led activities and discover the Manchester Letters - a magnificent installation of human sized love letters to the city, created by three local artists and Manchester people in 2021 as part of the Thank You Manchester Weekender.

Councillor Pat Karney, Chair of Manchester Day, said: "What a long three years it's been! As the sun set on Manchester Day in 2019, we never dreamt it would be another three years before we would be able to get together and celebrate everything we love about our diverse city and its brilliant communities who together help make Manchester the best place in the world to be.

"This year we're dedicating it to the city's children and young people, who have missed out on so much through the pandemic.  It's been a really tough couple of years for them and we're determined to help them smile again and have some fun.

"We've got tons of things going on all day right across the city centre, including of course the return of our legendary Manchester Day parade.   We can't wait to welcome everyone back for Manchester's favourite free day out - it's been a long time coming, but we're finally here and Manchester Day 2022 promises to be the best - magnificently Mancunian and utterly unmissable. Come on down!"

Outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank have been working with community groups and local artists throughout the past few months to help them perfect their all-important parade routines and to make the fabulous parade floats that Manchester Day is famous for, all in preparation for the big day.  

Liz Pugh, Walk the Plank’s Creative Producer, said: “This year, we're focusing on the contribution of children and young people to Manchester and the future of our planet, and we’re particularly excited to see how children and young people want to shape the future of our city, and how this is reflected in the parade. We know the impact of climate change is a big issue for them, and this will feature in some of the floats. 

"A gondola made from scrap metal, a train powered by pedal power rather than fossil fuels, the iconic bridges of Castlefield reimagined as gardens in the sky, and ants - lots of ants!  As well as great dance from the street crews, along with some of Manchester’s best loved music.

"We're also thrilled that Little Amal will join us in the celebration to take the spirit of Manchester’s youth with her as she sets off on the next stage of her journey."

As always, Manchester Day strives to limit its carbon footprint and impact on the planet.  Sustainability is key to the event which aims to be as green as it can be, recycling materials as much as possible, limiting waste and training participating teams in carbon literacy. Fossil-fuelled vehicles are banned from the parade which instead harnesses people power and embraces structures that can be pushed, pulled, wheeled, or walked.

Creative Director Dan Potra said: "This year's parade has been two years in the making with the original context for the Manchester Day parade that Covid cancelled in 2020 about sustainability and Manchester’s ecological place within the overall health of the planet. This year’s theme takes that concern a step higher by directly linking it to the future as represented by the young generation whose main life mission will be redressing the catastrophic errors of the past. 

“One of the features of the original concept was to visualise the ecological impact each manufactured item has on the environment. All the artists are acutely aware of this and as such have strived to reduce the impact in specific ways determined by each individual work. All the chassis for the floats were recycled and modified from older ones and the choice of materials has been carefully considered. We also challenged ourselves to recycle this year’s output into new and exciting ideas for the future years’ parades!”

“Each of the main floats has a very clear backstory. Starting with the Queen Bee Gondola, and ending with Home Sweet Home, which is just that - Manchester, the home of everyone living and working in the city, everyone accepted and everyone included."

Manchester Day is created by Manchester People, commissioned by Manchester City Council, and produced by Walk the Plank.

Keep up with all the Manchester Day news at the official twitter - @Manc_Day , Instagram- @manchesterday and join the conversation using #manchesterday. Also visit the Manchester City Council TikTok page for an exclusive behind the scenes look at all the amazing work that has gone into helping help create the Manchester Day magic.

Plan your day here


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