Southampton festival set to “Re:Claim” the city

Southampton is to host an exciting new festival next month showcasing the best of the city’s music, sports, arts and gaming talent. Re:Claim Street Festival will burst into the city with a vibrant mix of creative activity that will underscore Southampton’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2025.

Organised by GO! Southampton, the festival takes place on Saturday 25th September and will feature a variety of events designed to ‘reclaim’ the city centre for the people of the city. Most events are free of charge and it is hoped that the festival will become an annual event.

Activities will stretch from Carlton Place down to Westquay Esplanade, with events planned  to take place in Guildhall Square, Above Bar Street, Bargate and the city’s popular parks, East Park and Palmerston Park.

GO! Southampton, the Business Improvement District for the city centre, is collaborating with local cultural partners such as Skate Southampton, Solent Showcase Gallery, SoCo Music Project, Hip Hop Heritage, ZoieLogic Dance Theatre, Westquay and more. Activities will include live music, dance, gaming, street art, skating and street football, with the chance to be immersed in light and colour in the world famous Luminarium by Architects of Air.    

While audiences can expect to watch fantastic live performances, they can also get involved and take part in activities on the day.

Giles Semper, Executive Director of GO! Southampton, hailed the new festival as a unique event that will showcase the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

“After such a long period in which we have had to hide away, Re:Claim will remind us all how much happiness a vibrant city centre can bring.

“I wish I could say that the festival was our idea, but this is not the case! We brought together some key cultural ‘movers and shakers’ at God’s House Tower in 2020 and they proposed to do something that showcased the city’s creative talent using different parts of the city centre as their platform.”

“The word ‘reclaim’ can of course refer to the fact that much of the city centre is reclaimed land, but in our minds we were also thinking about letting our talent take the centre back. Post-pandemic you can even imagine it referring to the fact that we have got our city back after so many months living with fear and uncertainty.”    

“Ultimately, we hope to create something that is always (mainly) free, that shows what we can do as a city and that builds year-on-year in the run-up to our tenure as UK City of Culture in 2025. We hope that our role becomes less as the city’s creatives – particularly the younger generation – take control of the festival.”

Sports activations will include ‘Southampton Slamma’, a celebration of skateboarding featuring fun inclusive competitions and free skateboarding lessons. Watch the square come alive with uniquely designed obstacles and a special appearance from the Red Bull team.

A street football freestyle zone with displays, skill sessions, drills and nutmeg competitions will challenge footie skills. A “have a go” BMX / mountain bike pump track will provide further opportunities to participate in high-adrenaline events.

For street art lovers, workshops and installations are set to transform some of the city centre’s buildings, while gamers can enjoy a fantastic hub of their own.

Visitors to the Luminarium by Architects of Air will be immersed in an amazing world of light and subtle and saturated hues for a unique sensory experience.

With a showstopping Saturday evening finale performance, Re:Claim is set to attract residents and visitors back into the city centre as Southampton bids to become UK City Of Culture 2025.    

Steve Béga from Skate Southampton added: “It’s great to see GO! Southampton get behind culture in the city and help us elevate the smaller events we have been doing for years. This will put everything into the spotlight once again and give people a chance to celebrate and participate in some of the things that make our city so great!”

GO! Southampton is also working with The Big Issue to produce a special mini-magazine which includes a pull-out guide to the festival, with all the essential info for festival-goers and a map showing what’s happening where over the weekend.

The 24-page magazine – which will be distributed free from key points around the city in the run-up to the festival from 10th September – will also include preview features and interviews with artists and organisers of Re:Claim, Southampton’s UK City of Culture 2025 bid, Skate Southampton, a host of the city’s leading street artists, and much more.

You can find out more about Re:Claim by visiting www.reclaimsouthampton.co.uk