WOW Festival comes to Rotherham

Women of the world unite this summer as a vibrant, fearless and fun festival comes to Rotherham to celebrate women, girls, trans and non-binary communities.

On Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July, join the Women of the World family with a chance to connect with other like-minded people from across Rotherham and beyond. Whether you identify as a woman or know a woman, WOW is a chance for you to share your stories, hopes and aspirations to change the world for the women of tomorrow.

WOW Festival is a worldwide initiative that started at London’s Southbank Centre in 2010, focusing on pressing issues that impact women and non-binary people such as working rights, access to healthcare, gender equality and female entrepreneurs. There have been over 100 festivals and events spanning six continents, but this is the first time a WOW Festival has been hosted in South Yorkshire.

WOW Rotherham Festival

The two-day event takes places in Clifton Park with lots of free and paid-for events, talks and workshops to get involved in. There will also be live performances, a marketplace, and food and drink stalls across the weekend.

Try your hand at bushcraft survival skills, brush up on your DIY skills with Girls with Drills, have a go at screen printing, and join in with the mass dance sessions.

Art plays a huge role in the WOW Rotherham Festival, with a range of artists showcasing their work inspired by everything from invisible disabilities to portraits of women in Rotherham. And don’t miss the Siege Weapons of Love art installation by Walker and Bromwich, a series of inflatable sculptures that combine potent symbols of war with flowers and organic forms. There will be a joyful procession on the Saturday which will culminate at a beautiful arch decorated with handmade flowers.

Browse the marketplace made up of female makers selling everything from wax melts and jewellery to fabrics and Afro-Caribbean spices, as well as food from Noor café, Big Red’s Diner and local coffee and drinks pop ups. There will also be a number of charity stalls at the festival, from LGBTQIA+ charities to women’s health advocates offering advice around endometriosis, polycystic ovaries and menopause.

Across the weekend there will be music by DJ Tonner, Indian choir Rotherham Sangeet, punk band Skint Knees, and gothic rock band The Mother of Crows, as well as poetry and comedy performances. 

WOW Rotherham Festival

There will also be a ticketed main stage area which will be hosting a schedule of talks and debates across the weekend. Saturday’s line-up includes a welcome address from WOW Festival organisers from across the globe including founder Jude Kelly and Rotherham entrepreneur Dame Julie Kenny; ideas for change; why women’s health matters; and barriers women face in getting and keeping a job or moving up the career ladder.

On Sunday, share your views on stories making the news, such as the cost of living crisis. The main stage series will end with a lip sync party at 4.30pm.

WOW Rotherham Festival has been organised by three community producers from Rotherham who have been supported by Flux Rotherham and RMBC’s events team. Gemma Gates, Sithule Mguni and Noor Salih have been building on the structure of the WOW Global team while also working directly with women and girls from communities all over the borough to do the people of Rotherham proud.

The producers have been delivering cape making workshops for people to wear at the festival, creating handmade flowers that will be used for the Siege Weapons of Love installation, arranging performers and speakers to appear at the festival, and contacting vendors and charities to be involved in the marketplace.

WOW Rotherham Festival

Noor has an educational background in creative arts and has spent most of her working life in the community at the likes of RotherFed and Apna Haq. As a feminist and big fan of WOW Global, Noor says the community producer role in her hometown felt like the perfect fit for her skills and passions.

She says: “I absolutely love Rotherham and the strong form of community that exists, and I’ve made it my mission to showcase the wonderful talents of Rotherham and surrounding areas on the stages. The aim is that there is something for everybody, no one is left out or behind and we give power to local women and non-binary people through their creativity. This truly is the celebration and awareness Rotherham has needed for a very long time and I hope just like myself, this shoe fits them perfectly.”

Fellow producer Gemma runs a tattoo studio with no previous experience of working in the community but has always been passionate about gender equality and was once a semi-professional footballer.

She says: “It’s been a challenge on a personal level but it has shown just what I can handle and the message behind it has kept us all motivated. Rotherham is full of variety in its people and it’s time to celebrate that. It’s not just for women; the only way we can really reach gender equality is having men as our allies so WOW Rotherham is for everyone.”

For the full line up or to book tickets, visit the Flux website.