Barnaby Festival 2018

Gemma Gibb, Associate Editor
Artist Zarah Hussain

Barnaby Festival at Macclesfield Town Hall, Cheshire, 15–24 June 2018, free entry - Visit now

Macclesfield’s biennial festival of art, music, theatre, talks, walks, debate, comedy and more celebrates the creative energy and flair of this Cheshire market town,  once the world’s biggest producer of finished silk.

Featuring a positive maelstrom of local and national talent and a new theme of Roots / Routes, it launches on Friday 15 with the premiere of Invisible Threads, a new light installation by Macc born and now internationally renowned artist Zarah Hussain. Located in Macclesfield’s historic Silk Museum, Hussain’s mesmerising and distinctive style combines digital art and Islamic geometry. Expect an immersive and exciting experience for all ages.  If that’s not enough to wet your art whistle you can follow the Visual Arts Trail across the town to see (and buy) new work by local artists.

The Barnaby Big Weekend is where it’s at for families with a cornucopia of street theatre, storytelling and The Barnaby Parade. Look out as characters explore the curious Crow House from Circo Rum Ba Ba, featuring circus, slapstick, puppetry …. and musical saws. There are poetic cures being doled out by the Emergency Poet, augmented reality in My Wall is Your Filter Bubble and the incredible 18ft Arbor – half-man, half-tree, striding around the town and doling out native tree saplings to be taken home and planted.

Arbor at Barnaby Festival
Arbor at Barnaby Festival

The live music line-up includes The James Taylor Quartet, The Breath and The Barnaby Beat Route featuring over 20 acts across 14 venues in one evening of sonic adventures.

Other highlights include author Will Self, comedy legend Arthur Smith and a special Women’s Town series of events, inspired by Macclesfield’s reputation as a town run by women during its industrial peak. Take part in heritage walks and how to explore your own political pathway. Hear Her Voice will feature speeches and writing performed live by Macclesfield women and expect a firey debate as poverty campaigner Bea Campbell OBE, Edwina Currie, Director of Jodrell Bank, Teresa Anderson, and social activist and writer Amina Lowe get together to discuss how satisfied Emmeline Pankhurst would be with the place of women in society 100 years on.

We love the range of unique experiences too – from Wierdstone Walks examining the worlds of author Alan Garner, Boggy Doodles drawing walks around Tegg’s Nose Country Park to a Dad Dance Off for father’s day and DJ sets in the churchyard. Macc is most definitely back.


Barnaby Festival takes place at various venues and outdoor spaces across Macclesfield. Discover more and book tickets for individual events.

Barnaby Festival at Macclesfield Town Hall, Cheshire

15–24 June 2018
Free entry