Solidarity Social launched 2021’s Horizons Festival

Horizons Festival 2021 embraced this year’s national Refugee Week theme: 'We Cannot Walk Alone'.

Audiences enjoyed brilliant sunshine on Saturday 12 June for Solidarity Social, which launched the Horizons Festival, which took place outdoors at HOME on the Bruntwood Stage in Homeground, HOME’s temporary outdoor space.

The line-up featured DJs, spoken word, and live global sounds from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America in a chilled family-friendly atmosphere.

The Solidarity Social line-up featured poets Nikki Mailer and Mandla Rae. 

Audiences then enjoyed original jazz-infused, Congolese-inspired music from Gemima Band led by Congolese frontwoman and saxophonist Gemima Mbuyi-Tshimanga who has toured to Belgium; Paris, France; Senegal, and Portugal. 

The Bayan Ensemble took to the Bruntwood Stage with Persian percussion including Latin, African, and Indian twists.

The Luma Trio played music from Latin America to share the continent’s vibrant and diverse musical heritage using traditional and contemporary instruments.

To wrap the afternoon up, the flamboyant frontman Blanchard de Plaizir led Britannia Rumba to play high-energy Soukouss, unique dance rhythms from the Democratic Republic of Congo, fusing African and Latin sounds.

Throughout the Horizons Festival there was an astounding, provocative, and stimulating programme of film, music, performance, visual art, and discussion, presented live or streamed into people’s homes.

Many events were ‘pay what you can’ in recognition of the poverty many refugees and asylum seekers face.

During the festival Journeys International Festival, produced by ArtReach, took to Homeground’s Bruntwood Stage and delighted audiences with live sounds from Young Amani, mixes from DJ Chandé, a performance by Heritage Survival, and the Gazelleband performing Palestinian music.

The city centre was animated by live sounds from Amani Creatives in Exchange Square in a stage takeover.  Passers-by were treated to an extremely lively blend of African sounds with contemporary Congolese, Gospel, Zimbabwean, Sierra Leonean Palm wine music, and Salsa.

2021’s Refugee Week’s theme was #WeCannotWalkAlone 

The phrase ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’ is taken from the US civil rights activist Martin Luther King’s iconic I Have a Dream’ speech which called for all people from all backgrounds to join together in the fight for freedom, a rallying call that resonates today just as much as it did in 1963.

Given the crisis in the US over police brutality, #BlackLivesMatter, injustices throughout the world such as the persecution of the Uighur people in China and women rising up through the #MeToo movement, We Cannot Walk Alone was a powerful theme for Refugee Week UK 2021.

The Horizons Festival 2021 celebrated the enduring power of creativity and the immensely talented international artists who have made Manchester their home.

CAN and HOME invited audiences to celebrate the resilience and solidarity of Manchester’s diverse communities; the spirit that has seen generations of Manchester’s people stand in solidarity time and time again; fighting for freedom, human rights and laying the foundations for a fairer society.

The region was invited out of their lockdown bubble to connect with their neighbours, diverse communities, artists, campaigning groups, activists and CAN and HOME. 

We were delighted to be back with live and in-person events.

And if you weren’t there (or you were and want to relive that day of solidarity, sunshine and music…), here’s a film made on the day.


Photos: Shirlaine Forrest.

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