Spring has sprung, and in Chorlton that marks the start of a continuous stream of great festivals. Whether you’re passionate about green issues and animal rights, or books and arts – or you just really like beer – there’s a festival out there for you. Since I’ve been to all of the big Chorlton festivals at one point or another, I thought I’d sum up what each one’s about so you know roughly what to expect. Enjoy!
Chorlton’s Big Green Festival 2012
31 March 2012
Chorlton’s Big Green Festival is a huge annual event based at St Clement’s Church, Edge Lane, Chorlton that celebrates sustainable living. The main festival is free and runs from 11am till 5pm and there are loads of community stalls, food and drink stands, cycling events (such as the Big Green Bike Parade through the streets of Chorlton), hands-on workshops, family-friendly activities and 2 stages of live music. Then from 8pm there’s a ceilidh in the church, which costs a few quid to get in but is well worth it in my (admittedly biased) opinion.
Longford Park Centenary (LP100)
12-13 May 2012
Admittedly, the vast majority of Longford Park is in Stretford, but I reckon there’s just enough Chorlton in there to squeeze it into this post.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Longford Park’s opening, a huge one-off party is being held in May 2012. Surprisingly, it’s called the Longford Park Centenary, or LP100 for short.
There are 2 days of free activities planned. The first, 1912 Festival Day, runs from 1pm till 9pm and pays homage to each decade leading up to the present day with music, dance and other family-oriented stuff. The second, Longford Park – Now and for the Future, runs from 1pm till 5pm and shifts the emphasis onto modern music, recreation and sport.
Chorlton Arts Festival 2012
17-27 May 2012
Chorlton Arts Festival is the biggest festival in Chorlton with a whopping 11 days of events. The packed schedule sees hundreds of fringe events taking place in venues all over Chorlton. You have to pay to get into many of the shows, especially showpiece events like Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds in 2011, but they’re complemented by lots of free smaller ones in local bars, cafes, churches and so on. There’s also a mini music festival known as the Chorlton Weekender, where tickets cost about £30.
Horse and Jockey summer solstice 2012
20 June 2012
Each year, the Horse and Jockey pub on Chorlton Green hosts a free summer solstice party to celebrate the longest day of the year.
There’s a collection of stalls, fairground activities for the kids, live music and of course lots of drinking (it’s run by a pub, after all). Oh, and I should point out that Wednesday, 20 June 2012 is the date of the solstice itself – I’m just guessing that’s when the Horse and Jockey summer solstice party will be held.
Update: The Horse and Jockey summer solstice has been confirmed for Wednesday, 20 June 2012. There’ll be circus performers, a fire show, palm and tarot card readings, live music, new age stalls and face painting – as well as plenty of beer.
Chorlton Beer Festival 2012
6-7 July 2012
Chorlton Beer Festival, also known as the Chorlton Beer & Cider Festival, is a much-cherished local institution spanning two days at St Clement’s Church.
As the name suggests, hundreds of local and international beers are available to try and it’s run by the Trafford and Hulme branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) so they know their stuff. Like most CAMRA events, you have to pay for your glass and drinks vouchers but it’s very good value. Oh, and if you’re going on Saturday, get there early because they have a habit of running out of the best beers (sometimes, all the beers!).
Chorlton Park Summer Fair 2012
Summer 2012 (usually 1 day in July)
The Chorlton Park Summer Fair, also known as the RSPCA Summer Fair & Fun Dog Show, takes place at the height of summer – although trust me that’s no guarantee of good weather.
It’s free but everyone’s there to raise money for the RSPCA so there are plenty of donation buckets around. And because it’s the RSPCA, the main draw is a big dog show but there are also a few marquees and community stalls to explore.
Horse and Jockey winter solstice 2012
21 December 2012 (probably)
I’ve written elsewhere about the Horse and Jockey winter solstice, but in general it’s the same as the summer solstice with added reindeer.
Again, my date is for the solstice itself but I wouldn’t imagine the actual date of the winter solstice party will be much different.
Chorlton Book Festival 2012
Winter 2012 (usually around 10 days in November)
The Chorlton Book Festival takes place across multiple venues over about 10 days – so not too dissimilar to the Chorlton Arts Festival, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. Organised by Manchester City Council and local volunteers, it aims to promote Manchester literary talent through a series of author readings, talks, writing workshops and poetry slams.
Beech Road Festival 2012
Cancelled for 2012 (usually 1 day in July)
The Beech Road Festival was the biggest one-day festival in Chorlton but ended up getting too big for its own good.
Scorching hot weather and some excellent social media marketing on Facebook in particular (which to be fair, did exactly what was required …and then some!) attracted an estimated 20,000 people to the 2011 Beech Road Festival – four times the expected amount. After breathtaking crowd congestion and damage to Beech Road Park, the Beech Road Traders Association reluctantly decided to cancel the 2012 event. A real shame and here’s hoping it comes back sooner rather than later.
Disclaimer: I’ve done PR, social media marketing and SEO copywriting for Chorlton’s Big Green Festival, and social media marketing for Chorlton Book Festival in the past so I may not be the most unbiased judge of these!