Lancashire Encounter makes a welcome return this month after an extended cultural hiatus brought about by the pandemic.

Kicking off on Friday and running until Saturday 2 October, Lancashire Encounter celebrates Lancashire's rich and diverse cultural offer and sees the city of Preston brought to life with an exciting programme of contemporary and community arts from across the county.

Funded by Arts Council England and Preston City Council, the festival showcases the city's long history of hosting successful cultural events and will include a spectacular variety of performances, exhibitions, family-friendly activities and creative commissions, accessible to all age groups.

Key highlights include a Family Picnic in Winckley Square with lots of fun shows for all the family to be entertained by; an exciting dance piece documenting the Preston story of Dick Kerr's Ladies; a four metre tall puppet telling a heartfelt and memorable story of division, hope and belonging; 'HOWL' a film created by 100 people howling on Preston bus station; two visual arts exhibitions that take their inspiration from the working of cotton and a number of other newly commissioned artistic pieces.

The festival will take place at key locations across Preston including the Flag Market, the Harris, the Bus Station and The MET, Preston's newest venue - the Mobile Event Tent.

Cabinet member for culture and arts at Preston City Council, Councillor Peter Kelly said: "It's hard to believe we're back but we are, and I can't wait to see the city full of theatre and music again. We all deserve to have a great time.

"There's definitely something for everyone so take a look at the programme online and plan your visit.

"Extending the festival to two full weeks means we can showcase even more great talent as events and shows make a welcome return to the city."

All festival events are free to attend (except the salsa party), and full consideration has been given to social distancing and ventilation in response to the ongoing pandemic.

Many of the indoor events have limited spaces, so booking in advanced is recommended.

You can book tickets and find out more information on this year's exciting festival programme on the Lancashire Encounter website

Lancashire Encounter Festival is an authentic voice for Lancashire, celebrating the breadth of the county's diverse cultural offer with high quality and high profile arts.

Preston City Council staged its first Lancashire Encounter Festival in 2015 as a pilot, showcasing the work of artists from across the county and community activities, drawing in 20,000 attendees

Following the success of the pilot, the first full-scale Lancashire Encounter Festival was hosted in 2016

The 2020 Festival was postponed due to Covid-19 and is now taking place from Friday September 17 to Saturday October 2.

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