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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


Updated: Jun 28, 2023

previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke


Darnhill Festival 2023

PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

Darnhill Festival 2023 takes place Saturday 1 July in and around Argyle Parade.

The much-loved and eagerly awaited Summer festival is organised by Cartwheel Arts on behalf of Darnhill Festival Association.

The procession will set off at 12 noon from Argyle Parade followed by a full programme of entertainment and activities for all ages including:

Skate it Yourself Skateboarders

Climbing wall

Music stage hosted by Music Street

Roaming performance from 'The Pedalo’

Skylight Circus Arts workshops

Oakenhoof clog dancers


Drumming workshop

Drag Queen Story Hour


Bouncy castle

Plus lots of art workshops and plenty more activities we're working on - stay tuned to their social media for all the details.

The procession will bring a riot of music, dance, costumes, and colour as it winds its way around the Darnhill estate where carnival art from local schools, young people from Rochdale Youth Service and the Darnhill Community Café will come together to celebrate the theme of Connection.

There will be plenty of stalls offering a range of different things. Something for everyone!

For further information or to book a stall please contact: Cartwheel Arts at 01706 361300 or


Saturday 01 July 2023

12pm - 4pm

In and around Argyle Parade, Darnhill, Heywood OL10 3RY


PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

If you like thought-provoking events, Contact's 2023 Autumn Season is set to challenge, inspire, and ignite curiosity in audiences of all ages - featuring a heady combination of shows that will challenge perceptions, platform today’s most exciting artists and advocate for a brighter tomorrow.

This season embodies Contact's vision for the future, following a year of reflection on the organisation's 50th anniversary. With a renewed energy, Contact is sprinting into the future, pushing boundaries and igniting curiosity.

Keisha Thompson, Contact's Artistic Director, and CEO, expressed her excitement for the upcoming season:

"This exceptional line up represents Contact's unwavering commitment to creative risk-taking, amplifying diverse voices, and engaging with urgent societal issues. Our 2023 Autumn Season is a love letter to the themes that make Contact one of the most exciting venues in the UK: themes of humanity, resilience, empathy, experimentation and connection. As we look to Contact’s next 50 years, we can’t wait for audiences to join us on this exhilarating journey”.

Contact’s Autumn Season features two ground-breaking world premieres. First up is Census, a brand-new Contact commission by Malandra Jacks. Contact, along with hÅb, will work with Malandra Jacks to create a digital-led theatre show that celebrates their North Manchester heritage, brimming with Moston spirit, and asks questions about what class means today.

Next, Keisha Thompson will premiere her brand-new play, in partnership with the National Football Museum, the hotly anticipated 14%. Set against the frenzy of the Lioness’ success, this multi-sensory show invites you on a journey inside the confines of a post-match train carriage. Follow British footballer Nadia and her unnamed, unborn Baby. Prepare for a layered audio-visual experience where internal and external pressures rise.

Building on the success of the critically acclaimed production, Brown Boys Swim, in Edinburgh, Contact welcomes the powerful show to their stage. This poignant play, hailed by The Guardian as a triumph, will leave audiences moved and inspired. With themes of friendship, resilience, and overcoming adversity, Brown Boys Swim by Karim Khan takes a brave and honest look at the issues faced by young people.

Celebrated playwright Tim Crouch will bring his audacious act of collective imagining - Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel - to Contact. In this virtual adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear, Crouch offers a fresh perspective on power, truth and art. Witness Crouch's mastery of storytelling and immerse yourself in this transcendent theatrical experience.

Half Moon will also present Hot Orange, an immersive exploration of friendship and the moment you fall in love, by Amal Khalidi and Tatenda Naomi Matsvai. Hot Orange follows Amina and Tandeki as they navigate what it takes to sustain love and friendship beyond childhood idealism and reflects Contact’s decades-long commitment to platforming LGBTQIA+ experiences.

Contact are also excited to be collaborating with Manchester Literature Festival to present an array of spectacular events with Zadie Smith, Max Porter and Linton Kwesi Johnson. During Autumn, Contact will also be laying the groundwork for the launch of Re:Fute, a brand-new festival refuting the past and evoking conversations around a shared vision for the future. And Christmas at Contact isshaping up to be a magical one, with tickets to Cinderella, presented by eight-freestyle and Contact Young Company, flying out the door.



Thursday 29 June

Visit Rochdale Parish Church of St Chad - Church Watch

As part of Church Watch 2023, the historic Grade 2* listed Parish Church of St Chad will be open every Wednesday and Thursday 2pm – 4pm.

There has been a church on this site since 1194 and offers visitors much to see.

You’ll find the church at Top o’ th’ Steps behind the Town Hall, and they hope that stepping into the past for a moment will refresh you in the present and also inspire you for the future.


Phone: Graham Knox 01706 642311


2pm - 4pm

St Chad's, Sparrow Hill, Rochdale OL16 1QT

Friday 30 June

The Active Living Social

Join them for fun-filled music and dance afternoons taking you through the decades.

Have a drink, chat in a warm space, and meet new people and friends.

Bring your own hot drinks cup to help save the environment!

Numbers limited, booking required.

Booking is available in person at the centre you wish to attend, or by emailing: or ringing the number below.

01706 926205

2.30pm - 4pm

Heywood Sports Village, West Starkey Street, Heywood OL10 4TW

On until Saturday 01 July 2023

Putting It Together - Stephen Sondheim's Putting It Together, A Musical Review.

Presented by AODS

Phone: Danny Groves 01706 642 008

The Curtain Theatre, 47 Milkstone Road, Rochdale OL11 1EB

Saturday 01 July

Midsummer Cream Tea

the Edgar Wood Society invites you to explore the beautiful Long Street Methodist Church and school buildings.

Join us to enjoy a ‘Midsummer Cream Tea’ with scones, jam and clotted cream, homemade cakes, tea and coffee. We hope you will come along and bring a friend (or two) and have a look around to admire the architecture of this Grade II* Arts and Crafts masterpiece, then finish off with some lovely scones and cakes!

£12 per person.

Free Parking nearby: Market Place Car Park M24 6AE, Water St. Car Park M24 5UG and St. Leonard’s Square, New Lane, M24 6DJ

Phone: Christine Grime 0161 653 0512


2pm - 4pm

Edgar Wood Schoolroom and Church, Long Street, Middleton M24 6UN

celebrating creative arts and artists - an oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.

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