WOW (Women of the World) Rotherham Festival

WOW (Women of the World) Rotherham Festival

Project overview

The WOW Rotherham festival is a vibrant, colourful, bold, fun, and fearless celebration of women, girls, trans and non-binary communities, connecting Rotherham to other women and girls across the globe as part of the WOW – Women of the World family. 


WOW Rotherham Festival 2022

Taking place over the weekend of Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July in Clifton Park, WOW Rotherham 2022 featured an eclectic series of events, talks, debates, workshops, mentoring and performances. All programming aimed to build an equal, just and safe environment where the women, girls, trans and non-binary communities of Rotherham could flourish.

The festival commissioned three community engagement art pieces. The site dressing was co-created by Emma Wilson, a ceramicist and photographer, who worked with 127 women and girls in visual arts workshops to create site dressing including One Voice, Tassibee, Women Supporting Women (Rawmarsh), College Road Mosque, Ferham Mosque, Coleridge Primary School, Wales High School, Community Connects, Rotherham Pioneers, Mind, The Kashmiri and Yemeni Older People’s Group and Cherry Trees Care Home.

Sam Cleasby, a disabled multidisciplinary artist from South Yorkshire, worked with art collective Responsible Fishing to create ‘Do you see me now?’, an artwork which celebrates people with visible and invisible disabilities. 

Local artists Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich of Walker and Bromwich showcased their artwork ‘Siege Weapons of Love’, a series of inflatable sculptures that combine potent symbols of war with flowers and organic forms. This included a vibrant, loud and joyful procession on Saturday 16th July around the festival site, which culminated at a beautiful arch decorated with handmade flowers created by local artists and groups across Rotherham.

The festival featured key stages including WOW Big Ideas, a platform for short talks about pressing conversations and important ideas for change. Speakers included award-winning cultural producer and freelance marketer Annalisa Toccara, campaigners and activists The 3 Hijabis who are calling for racists to be banned for life from all football matches in England and senior critical care nurse Charmaine Mutsago.

There was music from local South Yorkshire musicians The Sangeet Choir, DJ Tonner, and punk band Skint Knees, plus entertainment from Drag Queen Bingo and a silent disco. There was also a live set from local progressive gothic folk rock band The Mother of Crows, poetry with Nicky Rogers and Ellie Blackburn, an ‘in conversation’ chat with stroke survivor Donna MacKenzie-Smyth and a number of workshops.

WOW Rotherham also hosted a diverse WOW Marketplace filled with female makers and organisations; a feature at every WOW Festival around the world.

Wow Rotherham Festival 2023

WOW Rotherham 2023 returned with a bang on June 10th 2023. The festival took place in Rotherham Town Centre. Over 3,000 people filled the town centre to celebrate women, girls, and non-binary individuals with captivating workshops, talks, performances, concerts, and exciting pop-ups.

The festival included the co-creation of artworks. Rotherham based Rationale Arts were commissioned to work with female and non-binary members of a newly formed RMBC youth group aged 14 to 18 to produce a dance performance for the festival.

Local artist Karen Hall worked with the S62 Women Supporting Women Group in the creation of an art installation piece on the subject of self-body image. The artwork invited festival visitors to add positive affirmations onto small circular mirrors and then place them on the artwork to create a wall of mirrors by asking, ‘If you were your own best friend what would you tell yourself?’.

The festival's diverse and inspiring schedule catered to a wide range of interests. With engaging talks covering critical topics, such as gender equality, parenting and childcare, work and skills, diversity and a warm welcome, body positivity, safety, gender identity and sexuality, mental health and wellbeing, and multiple interactive and exciting activities for all guests.

From free workshops from life drawing, making exploding rainbows, festival-inspired temporary tattoos, and zine making, to yoga sessions and aerial hoops, the WOW Festival had something for everyone to enjoy. Music performances from 12 local artists in different genres provided unforgettable highlights of the day, including Collective Choir ‘Neighbourhood Voices’ singing in Rotherham Minster and DJ Kavita closing the festival.


WOW Rotherham is organised by Rotherham Council Events Team in partnership with Flux Rotherham, Rotherham Music, Without Walls (2022 edition) and Children’s Capital of Culture in partnership with The WOW Foundation.

The WOW Foundation, led by Founder Jude Kelly, works in partnership with amazing women and organisations to create WOW Festivals across the world. Launched in 2010, WOW Festivals have now taken place in more than 45 locations in six continents, reaching more than three million people to date. The WOW organisers in each location ensure the content is created by the local community for the local community. While each festival is different in its own wonderful, unique way, there are elements that stay consistent at every WOW Festival wherever you are in the world; from the WOW Marketplace to Under 10's Feminist Corners.

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