Manchester Day

Celebrating its tenth year, Manchester Day took over the streets and squares of Manchester city centre to showcase all the aspects of Manc-pride. Although it is something to be enjoyed in person on the day, there are many factors which make this an impressive event ‘on paper’.

Amongst the stats they are rightly proud to boast about is the estimated 70,000-strong audience brought out by the parades, stalls, and activities being staged. The main visual attraction of the day typically is the parade, the timings for which show the scale of how many are involved in its production. Starting at 1pm on Princess Street and finishing an hour and half later at the Cathedral – it snaked through Peter Street and Deansgate so as to allow the maximum numbers of people to enjoy it.

With such a range of events, the city was packed out – the three main squares filled with stalls, musical and talent acts, as well as food vendors. Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Square and St Ann’s Square all had a variety of family-friendly attractions.

The stated mission is that: “The purpose of Manchester Day is to celebrate the creativity and diversity of Manchester. Where communities can celebrate pride in our city and show what makes them feel uniquely Mancunian. Where communities, artists and businesses can work together to create something truly special for Manchester.”

The official website also contains a page on their considerations of sustainability and policies on making the event as ‘green’ as possible. Some of the policies and pledges include the aim to be totally sustainable. They set out what this means in effect within three areas:

“Social impact: Working closely with communities is at the heart of what we do and we continually strive to ensure Manchester Day can have the best possible effects on local communities. Around 60 community groups work with professional artists to create Manchester Day.

Economic impact: Being careful with our resources in order to achieve this is fundamental to all that we do, where we strive to use local suppliers as much as possible and maximise the impact for the local economy.

Environmental impact: Whilst we have a number of areas of good practice already, we are continuously reviewing all aspects of our environmental performance in order to continue to improve.”

Manchester Day will also be holding a Photographic Competition for that perfect “Ten out of Ten
shot” of the excitement and fun – ten prizes are on offer for those lucky enough to be chosen.

Stockport Frogs

Making a giant leap for tourism, Stockport Council has spawned frog statues around the town in a treasure-hunt style trail. The frogs will be around from 29 June to 28 September and adds another pop-up attraction to the streets. They are positioned at key points of interest around the town centre, including the Market Hall, Redrock, The Plaza Theatre, and Stockport Town Hall.

Each frog will have a letter on its lily pad, which people are encouraged to note down, then upon possessing all the letters they unscramble them to find a three-word phrase. The prize which could be won for a successful entry on stockportsgiantleap.co.uk will be a miniature golden frog.

Thus far there are 17 named sponsors, all businesses or organisations which have a base within Stockport, including the council itself. Two notable sponsors are Robinsons, the local brewery which has Frog #2 named for them: Golding – after the British hop used in their beer production. Also, Stagecoach buses have named Frog #8: BUSter – in honour of the “famous” 192 bus route which they state has run from Manchester to Stockport for almost four decades.

The idea itself is said to appeal to the ‘collectors’ culture’ we live in, whereby a simple challenge or new development set up must be completed or inspected by those wanting to achieve the task. Furthermore, its core theory is about bringing people down into the town to explore the £1 billion worth of regeneration projects underway to show how Stockport is growing and changing.

Of course, the idea is reminiscent of the Manchester bees last year, although concentrated onto one area. Many towns and cities have had similar treasure hunt trails such as these and all have boosted tourism figures during their stay, with some estimates saying the Manchester bees drew in tens of thousands more visitors eager to join in the highly-publicised and unifying buzz.

When the trail finishes in late September, the frogs are to be auctioned off, with funds being donated to charity. There are some reports that some of the frogs may stay put or move to sites closer to their respective sponsors (pending approval), so as to continue the memory of the trail.

Exchange Square Water Feature

The rocky art installation, which was built as part of Manchester’s gradual rejuvenation after the IRA bombing of 1996, is set to be redesigned and reopened to the public in late Autumn 2019. Known for its chronic design faults, which made it a constant danger to the ankles of those who (against proper judgement) would walk upon it, the fountain will have a far safer design.

Many issues faced the water feature, including, again, its design which made it easy for litter and debris to become wedged into the cracks in the rocks and block the flow of the water. Furthermore, persistent changing of the filters, which would break after new build-ups of waste dropped in the crevices, meant that it was no longer cost effective to run.

The new build is estimated to cost around £700,000, in a plan approved over two years ago – the feature having sat dirty and dormant since.

The Liberal Democrat caucus on Manchester City Council are unhappy with the expense of this fountain and the money spent when the Piccadilly Gardens feature broke down some years ago. Greg Stanton, a spokesman for the group, said: “In the last few years, we have wasted £1.2m on failing fountains. Only Manchester Labour could talk about taking homelessness seriously whilst recklessly throwing away enough money to house every rough sleeper… on fountains. [We] will oppose this with all our energy and fight to re-prioritise public money for social change, not vanity projects and endless failing fountains.”

Leader of the Council, Sir Richard Leese, responded: “The water feature has always been a renowned part of this public space, and its revamp will provide a welcome uplift to the look and feel of the Square.”

Lucas Jones