Watch: ‘Incredibly creative and emotional’ Manchester Day Parade will make you swell with pride

The Manchester Day Parade celebrates its tenth anniversary this Sunday with another extravaganza of colour and fun.

Over 70,000 people are expected to watch, with another 1,200 taking part in the actual procession, as the city celebrates all things Mancunian.

The event is commissioned by Manchester City Council and produced by Walk the Plank, one of the UK’s largest outdoor art companies, based in Salford, which has organised the previous nine parades.

Tom Warman, the marketing and communications director, describes the parade as “a fantastic celebration of diversity in all its forms.”

He added: “It gives everybody an enormous sense of pride and a great sense of identity. It gives people that platform to celebrate their cultures and to celebrate who they are.” 

This community focused event has brought together over 50 local community groups and around 60 artists from the North West in an epic exercise of creative collaboration.

For the past six weeks the artists have been working around the clock to design and make the hundreds of props, puppets, costumes and floats that will form the centrepiece of the parade.

Uniquely, the parade artefacts are all handmade.

“(The event is) very individually crafted, it’s bespoke and has a lot of spirit to it. The key thing is about the quality that we invest in artists and the creative work,” Warman told MM.

“One of the key things that has contributed to the parade’s success is the investment in artistic talent made possible by Arts Council England, which is clearly evident here in our Manchester Day WoW! Workshop.”

Emphasis is also placed on environmental sustainability. With that in mind everything is designed to be reusable for future occasions and the floats and structures are constructed so that they can be pushed, pedalled or cycled around the streets.


Each year the parade’s artistic director, Candida Boyes, along with Liz Pugh, the Creative Director at Walk the Plank and councillors from Manchester City Council decide on a theme. This year it is “Ten out of Ten”. 

Then this is shared with community groups who are invited to submit their ideas. Once they have done this, Candida pairs up the groups with an artist most suited to help build their project.

Rose Miller is one such artist.

Originally from Southampton, she moved to study in Manchester, before volunteering five years ago to work on the parade. She is now a lead artist and is helping three groups construct their designs.

The first project is building a cardboard cityscape of Manchester for Venture Arts, an art organisation from Hulme, which works with learning disabled artists. 

Rose is also making a Veracruz folk costume for a design commissioned by the Mexican Folklore Group. And finally, she is helping a youth swimming group based in south Manchester build their float, which honours the achievement of Sunny Lowry, the first English woman to swim the English channel and who came from Longsight.

The parade provides artists with a unique opportunity to meet many other artists and learn new skills and techniques. It acts as a social networking forum for these individual artists. 

This is something that Rose really appreciates.


“It is a lot of fun, it is kind of a unique thing and a unique environment. I really enjoy being in the mass workshop, seeing other people’s ways of working.

“It is one of the really nice things about doing this kind of work. You are continuously able to learn and develop and you are always trying new things and getting excited by new processes.”

An interesting and striking composition is the one entered by the Bolton Home social housing organisation. They are making a set of skittles, which have woven willow frames. 

The skittles will have some of the social issues that their community faces lettered on them, while the balls will be lettered with some of the projects that Bolton Home do to help support their customers. Issues range from addiction, domestic violence to food poverty and poverty in general.

Simply Cycling from Wythenshawe are going as a firework display. Sue Blaylock from the organisation said: “We are going to have a big rotating Catherine Wheel, a puppet with sparklers and rockets on our bikes.”

She also elaborates on the significance of the parade for her group.

“Most of the people we are working with day in day out are people with learning disabilities who are sometimes excluded from mainstream activities, so this is a chance for us to showcase what we’re doing and for them to be involved in our city-wide activity that just celebrates what’s going on in Manchester.”


While most of the artists come from the North West, Walk the Plank run in partnership with Manchester City Council and an Arts Council England programme, called Elevate, which allows them to recruit artists from outside the North West.

Candida explains that they do this when they need artists with a specific set of skills that their own artists lack.

“We put a raft of ideas together to work with artists from outside our region to upskill our own artists.”

This often adds international colour and flavour to the festival. This year, international artists participating on the parade include Vinicius Daumas from Brazil, who is a director of a social circus company called Circo Crescer e Viver in Rio de Janeiro, Yussef from Egypt, who works for the El-Kosha puppet troupe that performs street theatre in Cairo and Skeeran from Kerala in southern India.

As the day fast approaches, Candida reflects on just what the whole occasion means to her personally.

“It makes me cry. It makes me incredibly emotional,” she said.

“I am incredibly proud of it, I am incredibly proud of the people of Manchester for coming and joining in and sharing their ideas with us and when I look at all my artists, some of whom started working with us as students and are now leading sections, I get hideously over emotional and likely to burst into tears at any second.”

The parade starts at 13.00 from Princess Street on Sunday June 23. Next Sunday there will be a parade plaza where people will be able to see the individual makes in closer details.

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