The Frozen North Winter Weekender (Dec 2012) was produced by TEC in partnership with Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, and a wide range of Lancashire based creatives, organisations, and promoters. The aim was to provide quality arts and cultural engagement and bring added value to Preston’s city centre over the busy Christmas shopping period, as a celebration of Preston Guild year 2012.

Animating underutilised spaces around the city’s Flag Market and providing a diverse offer of activities to suit diverse age groups, TEC and their partners and practitioners delivered an engaging family celebration.

Those venturing onto the Flag Market on the 15th & 16th of December were greeted by a forest of neon shards, a friendly robot, some surprisingly butch angels spreading Christmas cheer, and street performances from the MAPS Project. There was also a variety of walking tours, from an eco-walk with local eco-café Beautiful Planet and a ‘samosa walk’ with Love & Etiquette, to a ‘Cutthroat tour’ from Wooden Spoons Theatre, revealing some of the sinister history of the city’s Church Street. High profile authors David Gaffney, Clare Massey and Richard Evans also returned to the city to conduct walking tours of the sites used in their tales of ‘Preston, Past, Present and Future’ commissioned for TEC’s ambitious Preston 3Twenty project. These stories were made available as audio walks when the project was first showcased over Guild week, and were launched online to coincide with the Weekender.

In the museum could be found a Cello Babies Disco, creative Christmas workshops in Bluestreak Arts’ Winter Wonderland yurt, a Christmas tree decoration workshop courtesy of the Safelink Project, Grimm’s Fairy Tales narrated by Wooden Spoons Theatre in the library, and screenings of the Preston Motion Picture Project, a collaborative work from local community groups, schools, filmmakers and photographers for the Guild.

There was also a series of cultural goings on at the pop-up ‘Tundra Bar’ marquee, just outside the Harris, including music and performance events, an attempt to construct a paper chain long enough to encircle the Flag Market, and retro video gaming.

This captivating and inspiring weekender culminated in a remarkable music and spoken word performance in the Harris’ Children’s Library from The Eccentronic Research Council, co-programmed with live music promoter Tuff Life Boogie. Fronted by actress Maxine Peake (Shameless, Silk) on vocals and narration, the band performed their acclaimed concept album ‘1612 Underture’, an extended meditation on the Pendle Witch Trials, before a spellbound capacity crowd.

Video work by alison