Lancashire Encounter in Preston: When is it on, what time are the performances and what roads will be closed

A contemporary arts festival will transform Preston over the next three days.

Thursday, 20th September 2018, 7:14 pm
Updated Friday, 21st September 2018, 9:27 am
The No Bull! run

Lancashire Encounter, the city’s biggest arts festival apart from Preston Guild, will bring an array of music, film, dance and theatre to the centre.

Visitors will need to go into the heart of Preston to the Harris Museum and Art Gallery where activities and performances will spill out onto the nearby streets and venues.

Coun Peter Kelly, the city council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure services said: “This year’s programme is extremely diverse with a very exciting line-up of local, regional and national artists and groups, making Lancashire Encounter festival a truly worthy legacy of the Preston Guild.

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The No Bull! run

“I hope to see Prestonians and Lancastrians alike coming out to enjoy this exciting weekend and perhaps discovering a new side to the city.”

Today will kick off the festival with live recordings of podcast The Gathering which features artists and creatives sharing their insights into life in the industry.

Coinciding with the event is North by North West - a night of guest artists and musical acts featuring over 40 musicians at 14 different venues in the city centre on Saturday night.

Here the Post has selected some of the highlights of the biennial festival but for a full programme go to

Lancashire Encounter dancers

Flag market

Flag Market Installations

Date: Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22

Time: Friday: 6pm - 9pm. Saturday: 12pm - 6pm

The Chinese community take part in the Lancashire Encounter Light Parade in a previous year

Cost: Free

Location: Preston Flag Market

Witness Preston’s Flag Market transform into an interactive paradise for this year’s Lancashire Encounter Festival.

Explore a virtual reality playground or get hands on with life-sized arcade games.

This year's Encounter preparations taking place in Winckley Square

Get your game on in style with Matthew Harrison’s Actual Reality Arcade life-sized interactive game zone.

Pilot a spaceship across the galaxy and survive an onslaught of aliens in Defender, or shoot some aliens down in the Space Invaders gallery. Pump jump Frogger to safety, build with giant Tetris blocks, try tandem skiing or attempt the Marble Madness run, there’s plenty experiences waiting to be enjoyed.

Traffic alert

Parts of Birley Street in Preston will be closed for Lancashire Encounter on Sunday. The road will be shut between Fishergate and Jackson Street.

Physical theatre production

The Commuters

Date: Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22

Time:Friday: 6pm - 7.15pm. Saturday: 12pm - 1.15pm

Cost: Free – Book through Eventbrite

Location: The Harris, Comics Gallery

A new physical theatre production is coming to the Lancashire Encounter Festival, documenting the life of today’s Millennial population.

The show, entitled The Commuters, follows a group of friends stuck in the void between their bank balances and their diminishing social lives.

The hour-long production is described as a “timely, fresh and thought-provoking look at the important issue of the health and well-being of Millennials” by its Kendal-based creators, The Knotted Project.

Simon McElligott, joint artistic director of The Knotted Project, said: “We premiered the performance at The Grand Theatre Blackpool and the feedback was very positive with the work being described as relevant, fun, well-executed, fast-paced and a true reflection of today’s lifestyle.

“We were supported by partners at The Lowry and Institute for Social Futures to facilitate a number of workshops and interviews.

“We worked with groups of young people in Salford and Blackpool, discussing their ambitions and dreams.

“This led to the themes we explore in the show and also helped to create a powerful realism about contemporary life.”

Dance project

Mill Girls and Militants

Date: Saturday, September 22

Time: 2.30pm - 2.45pm & 4pm - 4.15pm

Cost: Free

Location: Preston Flag Market

A Ludus Dance project, Mill Girls and Militants uncovers and celebrates the lives of working women who joined the suffrage movement. These women were from Burnley, Preston and Lancaster. Over 100 years ago, just a stone’s throw from the genesis of the women’s suffrage movement in Manchester, mill-girls, pit brow workers, weavers and laundresses of Lancashire were joining the fight for women’s suffrage. Some rallied support in village halls and demonstrated at town halls, others went to London to join marches and demonstrations. The stories and journeys of these women are brought to life through a live outdoor performance.

Music festival for one night only

North By North West has been staged to coincide with the return of Preston’s student population and additional visitors coming to the city centre as part of the Lancashire Encounter festival.

The event will close with headline performances from The Sherlocks and Jaguar Skills.

Alongside traditional bars, pubs and clubs, an eclectic mix of buildings will be used for the festival including Preston’s Minster - and independent record shop, Action Records.

Peter Alexander of Blitz, one of the co-ordinators of North By North West said: “There is something very special about live music, Preston is fortunate to have a vibrant music scene, and putting an event like North By North West to showcase musicians, in various venues around the city, is going to make for a very exciting day.”

It takes place on Saturday, September 22.

Podcast launch

The Gathering: Live Recorded Podcast Launch

Date: Friday, September 21

Time: 10.30am-2.30pm

Cost: £5

Location: The Harris, Discover Preston Room

Live Recorded Podcast: Finding Creativity with Jamie Holman, 10.30am-11.30am

Artist, writer and lecturer, Jamie Holman, will join Arts Lancashire, talking technique, methods and approaches to stimulating the imagination. He’ll share tips on how to identify inspirational touch points and how to protect intellectual property.

Live Recorded Podcast: Resilience for Creatives with Alexis Johnson, 1.30pm-2.30pm

Alexis Johnson is an artist, producer and learning director at outdoor arts specialists, Walk The Plank. She’ll be joining the podcast for an exploration of how artists and creatives can strengthen their capacity to tackle the unexpected; looking at tools and approaches for collaboration and innovation to support both individual and organisational sustainability.


Preston Cultural Strategy & Encounters Consultation, 11.30am-12.40pm

During this session, you can help inform the development of the Preston Cultural Strategy and the Lancashire Encounter Festival. Share your thoughts, experiences and recommendations on how artists, creatives and cultural organisations can work together to shape a compelling and impactful festival, city and county of the future. The discussion will include Tom Flemming Creative Consultancy and Festival and Events International.

The consultation can be attended as a free and separate event. For more details see Preston Cultural Strategy & Encounters Consultation.

Talking Lunch, 12.40pm-1.30pm

Continue the conversation over lunch. The discussion will keep flowing, with plenty of food and brews to keep you going.

Balancing act

BLOCK ride installation and aerial performance

Date: Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22

Time: Friday: 7.30pm-8.10pm. Saturday 1pm-1.40pm & 4.30pm-5.10pm

Cost: Free

Location: Winckley Square Gardens

The ‘BLOCK’ performance involves 20 oversized blocks, deconstructed and reformed into an infinite variety of shapes.

Watch the performers move with them and explore them. Creating a powerful fusion of dance and circus, ‘BLOCK’ pushes the limits of both art forms.

‘Block’ is a collaboration by Motionhouse and NoFit State Circus.

Preston’s Pamplona bull run - without the bulls!

Pamplona’s famous bull running festival is coming to Preston – just without the bulls.

No Bull! is a recreation of the popular Spanish tradition with a twist. Rob Gregson of Preston-based arts organisation Derelict said: “We want to get as many people together wearing the traditional white colours with red sashes, running through the streets, parks, alleys and market places of the city centre to create our very first Preston Bull Run – without the bull.

“We encourage groups of friends, families and communities to get together and put their own twist on this stomping good fun run.

“Red sashes will be provided on the day, all participants are expected to wear white.”

No Bull! is on Saturday, at 4pm with runners starting the chase from Preston’s Covered Market.