Over 5,000 gather for art gallery's biggest event for 100 years

More than 5,000 people from across Hyndburn and beyond joined a special cultural celebration at what was the biggest event ever held by an art gallery in its 100 year history. Crowds flocked to Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington for the Connecting Cultures event last Sunday.

Marking National Refugee Week, the start of Eid and Father’s Day, the free-to-attend event had activities, games, stalls, exhibitions and much more taking place across park grounds and buildings. A main stage ran throughout the day, including an exercise class with Lighthouse Tai-Chi, a sing-a-long musical theatre show from Just Imagine UK, a spectacular Bollywood performance and interactive workshop with the Bollywood Guinness world record breaking Ri Ri’s Dance Academy, a group dance class with DanceSyndrome, a Chinese Lion Performance with Northern Dragons and finally, an inspirational community poem performance from the award-winning Respect and Dignity Arts group.

An internationally renowned sculpture, the ‘Lumini’, was also on show, hosting workshops, which sold out prior to the ‘Connecting Cultures’ event. Ukulele, heritage and viola workshops, as well as a George and the Dragon storytime all took place inside the Architects of Air structure, an extraordinary and beautiful art installation, offering a spectacular display of light and colour.

Visitors to the event embraced the free shuttle provided by organisers Hyndburn Borough Council, which ran back and forth from Accrington town centre, while two chill out tents proved extremely popular, with pre-bought picnic boxes from the Gallery Kitchen going down a treat. Visitors enjoyed lunch at The Gallery Kitchen restaurant, while Finch Bakery and Ninja Coffee enjoyed a roaring trade, with people queuing throughout the day.

‘Connecting Cultures’ offered a wide range of family-friendly activities including an artisan craft and makers market in The Stables, free henna art, Father’s Day and Carers Day crafts, potpourri making, badge making, heritage games, community and charity stalls, an Indian Rickshaw display and much more. A penalty shoot-out with the Accrington Stanley Community Trust was high in demand in the rose gardens, while inside Haworth Art Gallery, visitors got the chance to witness a number of exhibitions, a Bonsai tree display and the world famous Tiffany Glass collection.

‘Connecting Cultures’ was part of an exciting week-long event, with more than 30 Hyndburn business owners taking part and high street retailers delivering a number of activities such as ‘Tessa Clemson Yoga’ from Great Harwood and Accrington-based ‘Create Yourself’. Schools, community groups and hundreds of people attended workshops in the ‘Lumini’ throughout the week, where they also gave their thoughts on what they want to see in a new heritage centre in Hyndburn.

While a special celebration event was also hosted alongside ‘Idle Women’ – a local charity with hundreds of participants. Award-winning actor, Julie Hesmondhalgh, also attended the event.

She said: “The sun came out for Connecting Cultures, what an absolutely fantastic day. It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be here. This is just the beginning of an amazing new period in Hyndburn’s history, where we are going to be putting our money where our mouth is and support arts and culture across the region.”

Gillian Berry, head of museums and heritage development at Hyndburn Borough Council, said: “We have experienced an incredible day here at Haworth Art Gallery and Park, the biggest event we have hosted in our 100-year history.”