Guild 2012 Events • Visit Preston
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Preston Guild City

Guild 2012 Events

Preston Guild 2012 inflatable display.

From traditional civic events to the quirky and modern, the Guild 2012 was host to a myriad of celebrations

The Guild year saw over 900,000 visitors flocking to Preston. The Guild City Festival, held 31 August - 9 September, hosted over 80 events across the 10 days. Free events, such as the Vintage Guild Weekend and the Square Food Festival, helped draw in the huge crowds.

The People’s Guild and mass participation events were also very popular, with Run Preston receiving a record number of registrants. Preston also hosted it's first ever marathon. The whole of the Preston community and businesses got involved in the processions; with 8,500 people taking part in the Community Procession.

The traditional civic elements of the Guild were also very well received, with over 600 of the 750 Guild burgesses returning to be registered at the Guild Court. The youngest to be registered was just 10 days old! This event was watched by thousands of people on big screens in Preston Flag Market and on the internet.

Photos of these events can be found by visiting Flikr - Preston Guild 2012.

Guild processions

A total of 20,000 people took part in four amazing and very different processions during the 10 days. The processions were watched by huge audiences, with an estimated 70,000 people watching the Torchlight Procession. The processions demonstrated the diversity and creativity of Preston, providing a feel good factor and connecting the people of the city. Highlights included:

  • Walk the Plank's fire-breathing Viking Ship led the Torchlight Procession - a stunning procession with a real party atmosphere. The streets of Preston were lit up with torches and floats, along with beautiful glowing pictures and illuminated costumes.
  • This wasn't the first time in the Trades Procession for many companies. Plumbs marked their 6th consecutive Guild Procession by creating a giant armchair.
  • 5,000 people from more than 100 churches and faith schools across Preston joined in the Churches Procession.
  • The Community Procession was the largest procession, with 8,500 participants bringing together the breadth of Preston society. For the first time ever, Preston's Muslim community had their own section.

Vintage Guild weekend

The Vintage Weekend was all about looking back to the Guilds of yester-year. The event was put together by a group of Preston-based creative individuals, supported by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway. Music, dance, crafts, games, fashion, food and vehicles of previous eras combined to create an event celebrating Preston through the ages. The thousands who attended were treated to a mix of free and ticketed events, workshops, pamper parlours and pop up 'Best in Show' displays.

The Spirit of ‘42 Ball, sponsored by Plumbs, looked magnificent. Huge efforts in decorating the Big Top paid off, with an event hosted by an uncannily convincing George Formby impersonator. Music from the New Squadronaires also kept the dance floor full and alive throughout the night. Many attending got into the spirit with authentic forties costumes.

Human League, supported by Blancmange, were the headline artists for the weekend. Thanks to a sell out crowd it was a fantastic occasion.

Square food festival

Making the most of beautiful Winckley Square, the Square Food Festival was a major hit. Foodie events included the Stockpot Challenge and Tunaversity Challenge, singing chefs and children’s workshops. Under a beautiful awning, forty resplendent cakes were entered to create Cake City on a giant map of Preston. Over 200 kilos of cake were baked with the popular vote going to the Black Bull. The cakes were cut in to 2,500 slices and all except the Bus Station were eaten by the audience immediately after the judging!

Proms in the park

The long awaited event with José Carreras, Katherine Jenkins and the Manchester Camerata was a resounding success, set off by calm weather and a great setting. Highlights for many were the duet from West Side Story, though, for others it was the kiss between Preston’s First Citizen and Opera’s first lady broadcast on the big screen!

We Play Expo

The final weekend was a creative partnership between Preston Guild 2012 and the NW2012 Cultural Olympiad. A range of activities were brought to Preston, including the regional finale to the NW contribution to the Olympic Games.

A specially commissioned exhibition, Moments that Matter, was exhibited in the Harris Museum & Art Gallery and in shop fronts. Handprint, a digital installation, could be viewed on the viaduct in Avenham Park. The London 2012 commission 'Sacrilege', a life size inflatable replica of Stonehenge by Jeremy Deller, was also invited as part of the Expo programme and achieved record audiences at the end of its national tour across the UK.

In addition, the three major North West Cultural Olympiad programmes all brought work to Preston. These included Blaze, Abandon Normal Devices and Lakes Alive.

Blaze Festival

Continuing the theme of 'Young People Take Over', the final weekend on Miller Park was programmed and produced by 26 young producers from Preston and the North West. They successfully put together a mix of music, fashion, performance, parkour (free running) and graffiti workshops, seeing an unexpectedly large attendance and a gratifying mix of all age groups and cultural backgrounds.

Les Commandos Percu - On the Night Shift

The finale of Preston Guild 2012, NW2012 and the Paralympics was a co-commission of French company 'Les Commandos Percu', working for the first time with dancers and drummers from the UK. Premiered in Windermere in June as the opening of the London 2012 cultural programme, it had its second ever performance in Preston.

A capacity crowd enjoyed the blend of music, dance, drumming and pyrotechnics that captured the spirit of Olympic achievement and ended the week in style.

At a glance

In addition to the major events featured above, below is a round up of all the events and activities that took place during the Preston Guild year of 2012.

In recognition of Preston’s outstanding record for sports development, the city was also awarded by Brussels the official status of 'UK European City of Sport for 2012'.