jen taylor gives us the lowdown on quays festival

It’s Quays Festival install week and the energy on site is palpable. It feels so good to be back! One of the really special things about producing an outdoor programme is being exposed to the general public (as well as the elements…!) during install and letting people watch the magic unfold. Overhearing passersby gasping as the aerialists fly around The Lowry tower, conversations about what’s coming, and watching the construction of a skeleton framework, wondering how the finished artwork will appear. The build of anticipation ripples through the Quays and I realise how much it’s been missed.

This weekend marks the return of Quays Festival, come rain or shine! It’s a varied programme that invites people to experience outdoor public spaces transformed by art and performance, often in surprising and unexpected ways. Importantly, it’s free for everyone to attend.

This year, we’re thrilled to be premiering a new aerial performance created by Scarabeus Aerial Theatre. Originally commissioned for The Lowry’s WEEK 53 Festival 2020 that was sadly cancelled due to the pandemic, Powerflex features four professional aerialists who perform suspended from The Lowry’s iconic tower. The rehearsals this week have already stopped people in their tracks and captured the imagination of those lucky enough to catch a glimpse, it truly is awe-inspiring. All four daytime performances are free to attend with audience viewing from outside The Lowry and no booking required. Sat 14 Aug: 1pm & 4pm. Sun 15 Aug: 11am & 3pm.

The festival also celebrates the launch of a new sculptural installation Through No.4 by Liz West. Installed permanently on MediaCity steps, the 6 metre long, prismatic corridor of light will invite people to pass through and see the world around them transformed by colour. It’s a playful and hopeful work – we’re so excited to see it come to life.

A rare opportunity to enjoy the fusion of swimming, music and dance also features as part of the weekend, with a playful Colour Swim in partnership with Uswim. With choreography by Darren Pritchard led by House of Ghetto dancers, open water swimmers are invited to join in a playful mass dance from within the water, with Manchester School of Samba providing the live soundtrack! Free tickets are available to book online via quaysculture.com and spectators are welcome to watch from around Dock 9.

And there’s more to enjoy if you are visiting the Quays this weekend, with a free drop-in workshop programme that invites you to try your hand at samba or experiment with screen printing with artist Sally Gilford, creating your very own print to take home. The Lowry welcomes visitors to enjoy a free programme of activity as part of the popular, annual Open Day on Sun 15 August and Summer at Media City extends a compelling invitation to families to be immersed in free interactive play and activities delivered by local partners. Find out more about what’s on in MediaCityUK at mediacityuk.co.uk/whats-on  

With only a few days to go now, we’re so looking forward to celebrating the safe return of communities to large-scale live performance and events. Join us if you can! We’d love to see you there.  

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