Preston city centre is to be transformed into a winter wonderland next weekend when it hosts a major cultural festival.
The Frozen North Winter Weekender will see a range of events for all the family from December 14 to 16, focused on the Flag Market, Harris Museum and a new pop-up Tundra Bar, similar to the Christmas bars at Manchester’s yearly markets, serving festive drinks and continental foods.
Preston arts organisation They Eat Culture, Preston Council and Guild 2012 are providing the makeover with help from the likes of Lancashire Libraries, Lancashire County Council and Blaze.
And they have promised it will be one of the biggest events in the city centre since the end of the 2012 Guild fortnight.
A leading councillor predicts the ‘unique experience’ of the Frozen North Winter Weekend will delight shoppers and entice them to boost shops’ Christmas sales.
Coun Tom Burns, Preston Council’s cabinet member for advice services, culture and leisure, said: “What we’re trying to do in Preston is bring an arts and culture element into the city centre as much as we can.
“A city centre has to be more of a day out than just shopping. We want to add more to the city, so that when you turn around every corner, something will surprise you.”
The Flag Market will be transformed into an inflatable neon shard forest, inhabited by a variety of weird and wonderful characters.
Saturday sees appearances from Sparky the Robot, made from an array of recycled materials, and Sundays brings the Flying Angels, with their long golden tresses, neon halos and ‘very silly’ trumpets.
The Vintage Peep Boards, last seen at the Vintage Guild, will get an outing, and arts festival MAPS will provide interactive street performance and experimental theatre.
The Tundra Bar will host a music event on Friday night, and on Saturday present a late night show blending fringe theatre, performance, standup and cabaret from MAPS.
A music discussion will be at the bar on Sunday in the form of Soundbytes: Bytesized, continuing Creative Lancashire’s series of music industry events, before an exclusive gig by Sheffield electronica duo the Eccentronic Research Council and the star of TV’s Shameless, actress Maxine Peake, is held at a yet to be disclosed secret location.
They will perform their ‘14-chapter sound poem’ 1612 Underture, based on the Pendle Witches’ tale.
On Saturday Christmas decorations can be made and put on a tree, courtesy of the Safelink Project.
There will be Grimm’s Fairy Tales and children’s activities with local ensemble Wooden Spoons Theatre in the library and dads can enjoy retro video gaming in the Tundra Bar.
Toddlers can join the fun with the Cello Babies Disco Tent at the Harris – listening and dancing to sounds.
There will be Blue Badge history walks about pantomime and music hall and ghost walks, including an ‘Eco Preston’ walk from Beautiful Planet and a Samosa Walk from the Love & Etiquette Foundation.
On Sunday artist Kelsey Stead will attempt to make a paper chain long enough to encircle the Flag Market, while creative Christmas workshops from Bluestreak Arts will be in a yurt in the Harris’ rotunda.
For more information visit www.frozennorthwinterweekender.co.uk.