Kaleidoscope Festival returned to Storyhouse to celebrate neurodiversity and the talents of people living with a learning disability


Neurodiversity and the talents of Chester people living with a learning disability were celebrated when Storyhouse’s Kaleidoscope Festival returned for the first time in three years.

The week-long festival, which took place from 11-18 July, celebrated neurodiversity, inclusion and unique abilities and will include a rich and varied programme of events and activities including performances, flashmobs, quizzes, film premieres and music.

The festival opened with a bang on Monday, 11 July when the second Chester Disability Pride Parade filled the city centre with a blaze of brilliant sound and colour.

Over one hundred people were involved in the parade – one of only two in the UK alongside Brighton – which aims to raise awareness of the 14.1 million people living with a disability.

The parade route started at Eastgate and made its way to Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre where there was a chance to mingle, eat, drink and relax.

Participants also watched Dark Horse Theatre from Huddersfield – an ensemble of 8 exceptional actors with learning disabilities and non – learning disabled actors.

Kaleidoscope continued on Tuesday, 12 July when Storyhouse’s Garret Theatre was the venue for a 60-minute Sing Along Songs from Stage and Screen.

A line-up of classic tunes and new favourites from shows including Fame, Dirty Dancing, We Will Rock You and The Greatest Showman were sang along to and props and fancy dress were encouraged.

It was followed by Merseyside disability theatre company RAWD’s FLASHMOB in a bob! Those aged 14 and over, who identify as disabled, joined the RAWD gang to learn a Greatest Showman-themed routine and took over the Storyhouse Kitchen as part of a fun-filled flashmob at 2.30pm.

The Big RAWD Quiz took place in the atrium area of Storyhouse on the evening of 12 July. Competitors enjoyed an exciting series of rounds including sports charades and singalongs! The event was captioned and BSL interpreted. RAWD also took centre stage – or rather screen when the premiere of their new documentary film RAWD Talk was held at the Hunter Street building. This told the story of how the pandemic affected the company’s work and the fearless creative flow that emerged from difficult circumstances.

Wednesday 13 July saw a pop-up Kaleidoscope Makers Market for people to sell their fantastic and creative hand-made items including the makers from VIVO Diversity Designs based in the Forum in Chester plus more.

Meanwhile a series of short films all made by people living with a learning disability, autism or Aspergers were screened in the Storyhouse Cinema. All the shorts were chosen by film fans who similarly live with a learning disability and have been working with the International Oska Bright Film Festival to hone their film programming skills.

On Thursday, 14 July, The Stage is Yours gave the stage to attendees, where dance, drama and music performances were shared in the Garret Theatre.

Friday, 15 July saw the launch of Kaleidoscope Club Night, a new monthly event in the Garret Theatre. DJs played everyone’s favourite tunes while there was also 50 pairs of Silent Disco headsets for people who prefer to curate their own music to dance to.

The night also included places to chill out, tables and chairs for a breather from dancing, and the bar was open for alcoholic and soft drinks and snacks.

Storyhouse’s restaurant The Kitchen was the venue for MiniFest on Sunday, 17 July, filling the space with music and dance. The event features youngsters from Space Cheshire who performed together with their teachers from House of Dance, and an unmissable hour-long set of original songs from the Artful Playground Band.

Finally on Monday, 18 July, there was a chance to get glammed up and hit the red carpet for the Kaleidoscope Awards and Festival Film Premiere. Mocktails and complimentary canapes brought Kaleidoscope 2022 to a rousing end by performing the special festival Makaton song.

Storyhouse communities manager Nicola Haigh said: “The Kaleidoscope Festival was a huge success when we last held it in 2019. 

“It’s planned to be an annual event, but sadly the Covid pandemic has meant we’ve to postpone it. I’m absolutely thrilled that the festival was able to return this summer promising.

“And what better way to launch the festival than with our second Chester Disability Pride Parade? Chester is one of only a handful of places across the world that celebrates Disability Pride in this way. I’m really proud the city is leading from the front – it was an amazing and memorable day.”

To get involved with Kaleidoscope Festival, email nicola.haigh@storyhouse.com

Press contact:
Nancy Davies
Marketing and PR Manager
07886 743531