Words by Jobe Baker-Sullivan
Castle Vale will host the first in a series of Commonwealth Games Neighbourhood Festival Sites, as organisers set up suburban satellite events across the city to allow those who can’t attend the main events to enjoy the Games.
Further Festival Sites will be set up in Victoria Square and Smithfield – the current site of Birmingham’s Wholesale Market.
The Neighbourhood Festival Sites will celebrate the sport and culture of the Games, whilst providing food, drink, and entertainment – allowing a citywide audience to access and enjoy some of the key sporting moments on a big screen, alongside a programme of live performances from artists and community groups.
Organised by Birmingham based ‘female-led, multidisciplinary arts and events producing house’ OPUS (Outdoor Places Unusual Spaces) each Neighbourhood Festival Site is being produced by professionals who either live or have strong links to the location.
Festival producer for the Castle Vale Neighbourhood Festival Site, Lateesha Johnson, told Erdington Local: “We really want to see the Festival Sites reflect the spirit and culture of the neighbourhood they are located in.
“We’re encouraging all local residents to come and participate with workshops, celebrate a variety of art and culture and enjoy some fantastic cultural cuisine. All sites will act as a welcoming space to enjoy the Games and give local people an opportunity to embrace and celebrate this historic event.”
As Farnborough Fields is the first location in a series of seven Neighbourhood Festival Sites, and running alongside the official opening ceremony for the Games, the theme for the Castle Vale event is ‘The Warm Up’.
Recently elected Caste Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin, and CEO of Spitfire Services, said: “the Commonwealth Games mean a lot for the people of Birmingham, not just because it is bringing in a lot of new career opportunities and revenue streams but because sport is extremely important for our people.
“I am looking forward to Castle Vale becoming the first Festival Site wherein people will be able to play, enjoy music, meet each other, all in the friendly name of international sports”.
Castle Vale resident Tracey Barrington added: “I love seeing exciting things on the Vale, and a big thing like a Festival Site is just what we need after the difficult time of Covid. Praying for good weather to see Castle Vale come alive.”
Birmingham will host the main 2022 event at Alexander Stadium, Perry Barr, which like much of the city has undergone extensive renovation, predicted to have cost around £72 million.
As well as other large outdoor spaces and indoor sports venues in Birmingham, the Commonwealth Games will also use venues in Solihull, Coventry, Cannock, Leamington Spa, Warwick, and Wolverhampton, with the furthest venue being at Lee Valley VeloPark in London.
Louise Martin CBE, Commonwealth Games Federation President, adds: “Birmingham is truly the Commonwealth’s city, and we look forward to showcasing its humanity and pride over the coming months and years.”
More details about the Castle Vale Neighbourhood Festival Site are to be announced, for updates direct from the Commonwealth Games visit www.birmingham2022.com