The Wirral Festival of Firsts, Hoylake – 8 – 10 July 2011

8 – 10 July 2011, The Wirral Festival of Firsts, a Premier Event For Hoylake
& 15 – 17 July 2011, Oxton Village

This year, the Wirral Festival of Firsts takes place in Hoylake and Oxton. And year-on-year, other wards in the Wirral will be invited to be part of the Festival until the whole of the Peninsula is involved; by then, the Festival would be a major national … if not international … event.

Download the full Hoylake & Oxton brochures here

It all started innocently enough… with a suggestion by poet and former Scaffold member John Gorman to use Hoylake’s mile-long promenade to stage a lively summer arts festival.

Now, THE WIRRAL FESTIVAL OF FIRSTS has gathered serious momentum. With a £5,000 kick-start from Wirral Council’s Coastal Regeneration Fund as well as a £9,000 National Lottery Grant, and the enthusiastic backing of various local personalities including Radio Merseyside’s Billy Butler, the Festival of Firsts is all set for a prime weekend that will bring in thousands of visitors and really show off our town’s talents.

What IS the Festival of Firsts?
Essentially, three days of music, art, poetry and theatre over the weekend 8th-10th July (to be repeated, in Oxton, on the 15th-17th July). An army of volunteers is working to make this the biggest cultural event the Wirral peninsula has seen.


FIRSTS will include premiere performances of plays, poems and musical works featuring hundreds of prominent local acts from every genre in venues throughout Hoylake.

There is a Contemporary Art and Craft Fair at Hoylake Chapel where artists showing their work include: Daniel Meakin, Freida McKittrick, Jenny Dunlop, Rachael Howard, Also Oak Furniture designers ‘Cleancutwood’ Padgate Bears, Woollyfrog plus many more

Hoylake Chapel. 8-10 July,
Friday 6.30pm -8 pm
Saturday 12noon – 5pm
Sunday 2pm – 5pm

workshops, Kids ‘Make Art’ Area, cafe,  cake decorating,

The Festival line-up:
Saturday 9th July stages Wirral’s first ever Proms. Over sixty bands, musicians, choirs and orchestras will be playing at twenty venues throughout Hoylake starting at 1pm going through to midnight. Click here for details.

This will see the World’s Biggest Art Exhibition displayed along Hoylake Promenade (pictured left). Gallery Hoylake aims to turn the entire town into an art gallery, with local shops and businesses displaying works of art from Saturday 2nd July to Saturday 16th July. You’ll also find artists travelling on public transport with pieces of art with Art on the Move in the run-up to the Festival and Hoylake Community Centre will host twelve art exhibitions plus art demonstrations and workshops on Sunday 10th July. See Saturday Events and Sunday Events for more details.

Sunday 10th July is the world’s first Poetry Prom. A unique event, where every suitable space will feature live poetry readings including a public Poet Tree in front of St. Luke’s Church as well as renowned and published poets performing in venues around Hoylake. Over thirty poets (click here to see contributing poets) will be performing at half a dozen scheduled venues as well as other impromptu performances. Sunday’s headline event is the Poetry evening including celebrity poet Kate Fox, 7.30 pm at St Lukes Church. This is also the prize giving of the poetry competition which drew over one hundred entries, mainly locally but also from as far afield as Sussex. Click here for Poetry Events.

The first ever Festival of Firsts Open Poetry Competition has been judged and the winners have been informed by email. Awards will be made at the Festival of Firsts Poetry Concert (Tickets £5) on 10 July 2011 at 7:30 pm in Hoylake. Come along to the Poetry Concert to hear the results and a reading of the winning poem! The full list of winners and the adjudicator’s report will be published on this website on 11 July 2011, and copies will be mailed out to those competitors who provided a SAE for this purpose.

The Festival of Firsts’ Theatre Prom brings a theatrical première by John Gorman, various performances from musicals and incorporates Wirral’s first Shakespeare Season (throughout the summer). Local and touring productions will take part. Click here for confirmed Theatre Events.

A wide range of workshops are being put on by local volunteers suitable for all ages. Learn rudimentary bookmaking, how to play 3-chord songs on a guitar or take part in craft activities. Click here for Workshop details.

Most of the winebars and pubs in Hoylake are involved as well as social clubs, churches and halls. Melrose Hall have a Floral Art exhibition; Hoylake Chapel includes an evening of Tapas and Flamenco Dancing; St. Hildeburgh’s Church has three orchestras performing on Saturday afternoon; the Christian Science Church has an evening of show tunes; Hoylake Evangelical Church has a Saturday day full of workshops; Hoylake Sailing Club has a Saturday night of folk, blues, roots and acoustic music. St Lukes Church will be the venue of the Poet-Tree for displaying poetry labels whilst the Hoylake Presbyterian Church will have a Textile exhibition over the weekend. Wood Street Warehouse is the venue for the Barnston Arts Association and on the Saturday in The Ship Inn Philosophy in Pubs will be starting at 11 am. The Blue Anchor is acting as the Festival Club where, particularly, participants and volunteers can meet to relax, chat and enjoy some well-earned refreshments.

It goes without saying, we’d love as many people as possible to be part of this captivating new event. So bring your family and friends (and please do contact us if you’re interested in taking part). 

“The idea of FIRSTS is to do something for the first time in Wirral, for the North West and for the world”
– John Gorman, Festival Director

Please visit for current details of performers and events.
Patrons: Mike McCartney and Billy Butler