Lancashire Encounter festival to light up city

Last year's Lancashire Encounter
Last year's Lancashire Encounter
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Preston will be lit up in spectacular fashion as a festival to bridge the gap between Guilds returns this year - even bigger and better than before.

A pilot of the Lancashire Encounter was launched in September and attracted thousands of people, and a biennial event is now being planned to begin this year.

Preston Council has secured £70,000 from the Arts Council to create the full-scale festival on September 23 to 25, expected to cost about £200,000.

The event will celebrate diversity across the county, and will open with a “mass-participation performance”.

Time Joel, Preston Council’s events manager, said: “We will be working with communities across Lancashire and doing some target work, particularly with hard-to-reach communities.”

There will be a “temporary performance venue” set up to house displays - although details are yet to be decided.

Last year's Lancashire Encounter

Last year's Lancashire Encounter

Mr Joel said: “Surrounding streets will be populated with street theatre, buskers, pop-up markets and activity areas.

“Whereas the pilot was quite compact, with the additional investment we are now able to start to grow that across the city with pop-up venues which could be Winckley Square, the train station, the Fishergate, the markets, so we’ve got this sense of a map across the city of activity.”

The red canopies, which took over the centre of Preston last year, will be returning, providing venues and linking parts of the city together.

Mr Joel said: “We are looking at a procession of light as a finale for the festival, building on the sense of torchlight in the Guild.

“We’ll be looking at inviting groups to come and make and participate in that procession, and we are looking to appoint a procession producer.”

The procession is likely to loop into Preston from Moor Park, and will mark the 200th anniversary of gas light, with Preston being the first town outside of London to have gas.

Lorraine Norris, chief executive of Preston Council, said: “We are delighted with the funding from the Arts Council which is wonderful endorsement for Lancashire Encounter and for Preston. 

“It means we together with our partners can put on an even bigger and better festival programme which offers something for everyone.”