Rochdale Feel Good Family Picnic

Rochdale Borough Council

Visit Rochdale Feel Good Festivals Website

Rochdale Borough Council delivers public services to over 220,000 residents in Rochdale, Heywood, Middleton and the Pennines.

Rochdale is in a unique position to engage with its residents more widely through its new festival and events strategy. Fresh, incoming funding, new energy and people means that the time to do this has never been better. It is also aligned and in tune with the evening and visitor economy strategies that have been formed at the same time and in consultation with each other.

Rochdale’s new festival & events strategy reflects the borough’s dynamic and distinctive heritage and diverse population, with ambitious, innovative programming bringing together Rochdale’s own regional creative talent alongside international creatives. Children and young people will be key to the programme, with a focus on new skills and training, building a strong creative sector for Rochdale’s future.

Events at Rochdale Feel Good Family Picnic

Rochdale Feel Good Family Picnic is one of several new programmes in development to begin delivering against strategic objectives. The festival design builds on the success of the family zone previously programmed as part of Rochdale Feel Good Festival, but creates space for the ambition to grow with a dedicated programme that features world-class touring work as well as co-created work with local groups and partners, embedded participation activity and collaboration with partners across the borough.

Rochdale Feel Good Family Picnic will provide a compelling offer for family audiences, with pilot activity delivered in 2020/21 demonstrating the demand and opportunities for engagement that exist. The festival will be delivered in all four townships across the borough, transforming spaces for one day in each location and providing a family-friendly cultural offer that celebrates creativity in their beautiful green spaces.

The Rochdale Feel Good Festival team

The team is made up of a variety of members:

Head of Events and Programming, Jonathan Higgins – With overall responsibility for our events programme, Jonathan brings significant experience in producing and programming large scale events for both indoor and outdoor venues and festivals.

Events Manager, Sue Taylor – Sue has significant experience producing the existing portfolio of events for Rochdale Borough Council, working with partners across the council, in the community and liaising with the WW Network.

Events Manager, Abigail Hindle – Abigail operationally manages the arts and events programme for Link4Life. Abi specialises organising and producing commercial events including weddings and conferences working with high net worth clients.

Technical Manager, Adam Pemberton – Adam is an experienced technician with knowledge of producing indoor and outdoor events

Community Engagement, Lisa O Neil Rogan – Lisa has significant experience of live events and production as well as creative community engagement and consultation.

Image credits: courtesy of Rochdale Borough Council

Why we joined Without Walls

“In 2022 Rochdale was identified as an Arts Council England Priority Place, one of two in Greater Manchester.  Rochdale is also one of 8 areas in the region acknowledged as a DCMS Levelling Up for Culture place for 2023-2026.

Within this context, a festivals & events review was commissioned earlier this year to help shape the future of the events led by Rochdale Borough Council in order to:

– Positively raise profile of the borough

– Animate, showcase and attract visitors to key assets – eg heritage, town centres, nature spaces

– Increase breadth, reach and scale across the borough

– Attract more partners and investment

– More sustainable operation and financial model

– Reach and involve more residents

– Reflect diversity of Rochdale borough community

Being a member of the Without Walls network is of significant value as we work to achieve these aims, providing subsidised access to high-quality touring work, a network of peers with a wealth of experience, training, guidance and exemplary models of working.”


Impact on local community

Following a wide-ranging community consultation, Rochdale Borough Council developed a ‘Pioneering Creativity’ that was adopted in 2019. It set out the following vision: “by 2030, Rochdale is a creatively ambitious borough where our diverse communities enjoy equal access to experience, create, work and learn through great art and culture”.

Priority objectives include:

  1. Create and champion an ambitious cultural narrative for the borough, drawn from its distinctive heritage and people and looking forward to its place within the city region and beyond.
  2. Capitalise on culture as an opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of residents across the Borough.
  3. Ensure culture and creativity is inclusive, relevant and accessible to everyone regardless of age, background or ability
  4. Support the creative participation, exploration and talents of children and young people
  5. Deliver a positive economic impact through resilient and skilled culture and creative industries, venues, organisations, leaders, artists and creatives

It also includes a set of values, describing how RBC would like to act in delivery of its strategy:

  1. To aim high, be brave and artistically ambitious
  2. To explore new ideas, re-invent and be radical when needed
  3. To work co-operatively with partners and our communities
  4. To harness creativity to tackle wider social challenges
  5. To empower communities ensuring access for all