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Encounter Festival 2023 declared a resounding success

20 September 2023

Encounter Festival 2023 fireworks

Encounter Festival 2023 fireworks

The curtains have closed on another spectacular edition of Encounter Festival, and the resounding verdict is in - the festival has once again exceeded all expectations, leaving attendees with great memories and a deep appreciation for the power of art and community.

The three-day extravaganza, which took place from Friday 15 until Sunday 17 September, transformed the heart of Preston into a vibrant hub of creativity, unity, and celebration. With a diverse lineup of performances, workshops, and activities, Encounter Festival 2023 upheld its reputation as a cultural milestone in the Preston calendar.

Headline Statistics

  • Around 50,000 people were involved over the whole weekend, increasing the step change from the previous year's 32,000.
  • Over 2,000 people participated in workshops and activities.
  • Encounter Festival worked with 160 artists.
  • A total of 450 people participated in the annual Torchlight Procession.
  • 1,200 audience members watched Parade! The Giant Wheel roll down Fishergate.
  • 500 audience members watched the TimeLess performance at Preston Bus station.
  • Over 500 people interacted with the playscape and games on The Flag Market Festival Hub.

Key Highlights of Encounter Festival 2023

Torchlight Procession lights up the night

The festival's signature Torchlight Procession wound its way through the city streets, and was a brilliant display of lights, music, and community spirit.

Diverse performances and cultural celebrations

The Community and Traditions Stage, hosted by BBC Radio Lancashire broadcaster Hussnain Hanif, celebrated local talent and cultural traditions.

Traditional Lancashire Clogging fused with Appalachian flat foot enthralled audiences with intricate footwork and rhythmic movements.

Captivating art installations

The festival featured a range of art installations, including the Creative Scrap Store, where attendees could discover their creativity using found and scrap materials.

Compact Disco, a travelling discotheque with a sustainable twist, brought the joy of the party to the streets with an oversized dynamic disco ball created from discarded CDs.

Engaging workshops and family fun

Families enjoyed a day of fun and food at Winckley Square with the beautiful show, Parade! The Giant Wheel rolling along Fishergate as a unique highlight.

Baby Boo's interactive atmosphere captivated young minds through lighting, sound, colours, and film projections.

The Magical Story Jars drop-in activity inspired children to have fun playing with ideas and creating their own stories.

Community Engagement

The festival's emphasis on community engagement was evident throughout the event, as community groups actively participated in performances, workshops, and the Torchlight Procession.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for culture and leisure services at Preston City Council, said:

"Encounter Festival has once again demonstrated its ability to unite our community through the arts. It's a celebration of culture, diversity, and the boundless creativity that defines Preston." 

The Encounter Festival team extends a heartfelt thank you to all the artists, performers, volunteers, funders, and, most importantly, the attendees who made this event possible.

As the curtains fall on Encounter Festival 2023, plans are already underway for an even bigger edition next year between 20 - 22 September 2024.

More information

About Encounter Festival

Encounter Festival is an authentic voice for Lancashire, celebrating the breadth of the County's diverse cultural offer with high quality and high profile arts. Taking place at the end of September, Encounter Festival sees the city of Preston buzzing with life and alight with creativity. The past Encounters have seen an array of spectacular performances, inspiring arts and impressive music, bringing spectators to their feet.

About The UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government's Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.

About Arts Council England 

Arts Council Englandis the national development agency for creativity and culture. They have set out their strategic vision in Arts Council England - Let's Create that by 2030 they want England to be a country in which the creativity of each person is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. They invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and deliver this vision. 

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million EmergencyResponse Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. They are also one of the bodies administering the Government's unprecedented £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Funds.

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