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Encounter Festival 2023 highlights

22 September 2023

Incredible images from an extraordinary weekend of spectacular performances, inspiring arts and amazing music

Last weekend saw the return of the Encounter Festival, which was a resounding success. The three day arts and cultural extravaganza transformed the heart of Preston into a vibrant hub of creativity, unity, and celebration, through a diverse lineup of performances, workshops, and activities.

The festival once again exceeded all expectations, leaving attendees with great memories and a deep appreciation for the power of art and community.

With so many superb acts and amazing moments, the following images provide just a glimpse into another unforgettable weekend.

Sit back, relive and enjoy.

The Lighter Jams

Friday eve saw the awesome acoustic duo The Lighter Jams kick off the weekend with a selection of popular soul, pop, rock and reggae covers.

Bringing a fresh edge to the evening they delivered an entertaining live show, which filled the room with energy and brought the audience to their feet dancing the night away.

The Lighter Jams performers


Saturday brought an array of captivating art and cultural activity across the city centre, including an impressive 7m high rotating hourglass. Located at Preston Bus Station, spectators and travellers in and out of the city witnessed an innovative fusion of daring acrobatics and beautifully choreographed dance, which explored the fragile relationship between civilisation and nature and the precarious balance that could at any point tip into chaos.

Performer balancing on top of Timeless installation

Performers doing acrobatics next to Timeless installation

Man peeping out of Timeless installation holding a potted plant

Look Mum, No Hands!

The bus station was also chosen as the backdrop for Look Mum, No Hands!, which engaged viewers from start to finish with their powerful and emotional tale of friendship, growing up and testing their own boundaries. Through unexpected choreography and amazing acrobatics, they delivered a visually stunning and touching performance.

Look Mum, No Hands performers doing acrobatics

Look Mum, No Hands performers doing acrobatics

Look Mum No Hands performers doing acrobatics

Torchlight Procession

On Saturday eve, the festival's signature Torchlight Procession wound its way through the city streets, bringing a fabulous display of lights, music, and community spirit.

Led by Mr Wilson's Second Liners, a brilliant brass band, and followed by some of Preston's finest procession groups, the procession brought an electric extravaganza of illumination, music and dance through the city centre.

Rabbit at Torchlight Procession

Performer in Torchlight Procession

Moon on bicycle in torchlight procession

Band performing in torchlight procession

Girl with illuminated hat in torchlight procession

Elephant in the Torchlight Procession

Angel performers at the Torchlight Procession

Band at the Torchlight Procession

Child on pretend horse in torchlight procession

Fireworks following torchlight procession

Parade - The Giant Wheel

Sunday saw spectators and passers-by witness a huge 15-foot tall Giant Wheel, driven by circus and street performers, take to Fishergate High Street in a moving performance inspired by the beauty, power and impact of people coming together from different walks of life.

Performer walking along giant wheel

Performers sat on the giant wheel

Woman inside giant wheel


Over on Winckley Square, FLOOD delivered an immersive spectacle to their audience. Through circus, music, acrobatics and personalised sound umbrellas, viewers were whisked away on an epic adventure to the deepest depths of the ocean to understand how coastline and communities have become 'seasick'.

FLOOD performers acting

FLOOD performer with umbrella

FLOOD performers acting

Other engaging workshops, performances and family fun

Over the weekend, the Encounter Festival put on a host of other fantastic performances, engaging workshops and fun for all. From fabulous dance classes and a mix of talented performances on the Community and Traditions Stage to captivating activity sessions for little ones and much more. The event truly brought together the city's brilliant diverse community, through an action packed programme of arts, culture and creativity.

Performer on stage outside Guild Hall

Colourful performer shoes close up

Children singing on stage outside the Guild Hall

Child wearing oversized green glasses

Person in wheelchair speaking on the microphone

People dancing on the Flag Market

Person break dancing on the Flag Market

Girl participating in a creative workshop

Woman hula hooping with lots of hula hoops

People dancing on the Flag Market

What's on this autumn?

Discover what other fantastic events are taking place in and around the city this season by checking out our regularly updated what's on calendar.

Image credits

Special thanks to the photographers of Preston Photographic Society, who took the amazing photographs featured in this blog.