WOW - What A Festival!

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Celebrating women and girls everywhere, the WOW Women of the World Festival will come to Scotland for the first time this October and will be hosted right here in Perth City Centre at Horsecross.

The jam-packed programme opens on Friday 27th October with Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, in conversation with WOW Founder and Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly.  For the following two days, Perth Concert Hall will become a hive of discussion, creative activity and diverse workshops, as prominent activists, speakers, business women, artists, broadcasters and campaigners including Kirsty Wark, Halina Rifai, Dr Iris Elliott, Lesley Riddoch, Luisa Omielan and more.

Running on both Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October, the festival weekend includes talks and debates from top speakers, music, dance, theatre, performance, poetry and comedy as well as wide-ranging workshops and activities ranging from morning song to yoga, and speed mentoring to skateboarding.  Download the full programme here >>>

Funded by Spirit of 2012, WOW Perth 2017 is part of Southbank Centre’s expansion of its global WOW network of festivals.  The team there aim to create nine new WOWs in five cities across the UK to mark the centenary of female suffrage in 2018. Perth is the first Scottish city to host one of these WOWs and will produce the festival this year, and again in 2018.

Celebrating and recognising the achievements of women and girls as well as taking a frank look at factors stopping us from achieving our potential, WOW is a no-holds barred look at what it means to be a woman today. 


Founded by Jude Kelly CBE at Southbank Centre in 2010, WOW is now the largest women’s festival movement in the world, taking place across five continents, in countries from Pakistan to the USA.

Jude commented, “WOW - Women of the World Festivals are designed to be agents of change in their host cities, providing a space for women to participate in discussion, education and collaboration on the issues that most impact their lives. Launched in 2011 in London, WOW Festivals have engaged and inspired more than one million women across five continents and cities in Australia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, the U.K., and at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.  WOW is the biggest gathering of women and girls across the globe, and I'm so pleased that Perth is part of this story for change.”

Debbie Lye, Chief Executive of Spirit of 2012, said: “Spirit is thrilled to support WOW Perth – an event that will bring people together to celebrate the diverse experiences and achievements of women and girls, to highlight challenges they face, to discuss possible solutions to these and to take action. This first festival in the series is a wonderful opportunity to engage people and communities across Scotland in creative and positive change.”

WOW Perth presents an opportunity for hundreds of women and men, boys and girls from across the city to come together under one roof to celebrate women and girls. WOW also creates a safe space to discuss, and create solutions for, modern challenges affecting women and girls, on a local level, but also nationally and internationally. Hard-hitting subjects covered and explored include shame, childlessness, sex, refugees, period poverty, Brexit, mental health and ageing.

Leading WOW Perth festival programmer Lou Brodie, said: “Over the past months I have met amazing local women from Perth and Kinross and brilliant women from a variety of Scotland’s dynamic communities. The WOW Perth weekend brings all of these women together as we ask ourselves what a gender equal Scotland might look like?

“This is Scotland and Perth’s first WOW and I hope everyone will jump in and participate; whether it’s taking part in workshops, lending their voice to the many discussions or simply listening from the audience we are encouraging women and men of all ages to come along and be inspired.”   

WOW Perth Nicola SturgeonHighlights from the WOW Perth 2017 programme include:

  • First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in conversation with Jude Kelly, WOW - Women of the World festival founder, talking about gender equality, what drives her, the women who inspire her and more. The talk will be followed by questions from the WOWsers, a group of young volunteers aged 15-18 who are working together to create an element of the WOW Perth programme to be presented over the festival weekend (Friday 27th October).

  • Broadcaster Kirsty Wark leads the discussion the realities facing women as they step into their third age. Is 60 the new 30? She’ll be joined by Rachel Weiss, founder of Perth’s first Menopause café, and Clare Copper, advocate of independent living for older people (Saturday 28th October).

  • Under 10 Feminists Corner: Girls and boys aged 6 – 10 are invited to this interactive workshop led by Lauren Oakes which explores what being a girl means and how to start campaigning for equal rights (Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October).

  • Panel discussion with Leyla Josephine whose poem about her abortion went viral, Claire Hewitt whose transgender grandson took his own life and Halina Rifai author of My Rad Fat Diary discussing the universal issue of shame. (Saturday 28th October).

  • Labour MSP Monica Lennon, film-maker Alison Piper, the Trussell Trust’s Lyndsay Cochrane and period poverty campaigner Shauna Gauntlett discuss the very real issue of Period Poverty around the world and what Scotland is doing to tackle it. (Saturday 28th October).

  • What does Brexit mean for women? This is the question asked in a talk with Angela O’Hagan of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group and Susie Fitton from inclusion Scotland (Saturday 28th October).

  • Head of Policy and Research for the Mental Health Foundation, Dr Iris Elliot will be joined by Julia Taudevin, award-winning theatre maker, in this drop-in workshop discussing the effect sexism has on the mental health of women (Saturday 28th October).

  • Comedy sensation, Luisa Omielan brings her smash hit show “Am I Right Ladies?” to Horsecross, Perth for one night only! (Saturday 28th October).

  • Ending violence against girls is the topic for Talat Yaqoob, founder of Women 50/50 and Director of Equate Scotland.  She will be joined in a talk by Perthshire’s Women’s Aid, Perth and Kinross Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre and Amina. (Sunday 29th)

  • Broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and solo walker and writer Linda Cracknell ar in-conversations discussing the relationship women have with public spaces and inhabiting the land that live in.

To book, call Horsecross Ticket Office on 01738 621031 or book online >>>

  • Weekend Pass: £20; concessions £16 (inc £1.50 booking fee per ticket) 

  • Saturday Day Pass: £12 (inc £1.50 booking fee per ticket); concessions £7.50 

  • Sunday Day Pass: £12 (inc £1.50 booking fee per ticket); concessions £7.50 

  • Several of the WOW weekend events are free to join. Watch this space for more details!

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Use the hashtag #WOWPerth  @WOWTweetUK 

More about WOW - Women of the World

Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival is a global festival movement launched by Jude Kelly CBE in London in 2011 that celebrates women and girls, and looks at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential. To date, WOW has reached over one million people worldwide and this number is growing year on year. With the HRH Duchess of Cornwall as President, Southbank Centre is now planning a WOW Commonwealth festival at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 with all 53 nations.

Each festival across the world - made up of talks, debates, music, activism, mentoring, pop ups and performance - celebrates women and girls, takes a frank look at what prevents them from achieving their potential, and raises awareness globally of the issues they face and possible solutions. It reaches girls and women, boys and men from a broad range of social backgrounds and supplies a completely different sense of action and energy than a conventional conference approach.

Speakers have included Malala Yousafzai, Christine Lagarde, Salma Hayek, Annie Lennox, Gordon Brown, Julie Walters, Patrick Stewart and many more including hundreds of women and men who don’t have public profiles but are working everyday to achieve gender equality. Over 25,000 people came to WOW London in 2016, thousands more have come to WOWs across the world and festival organisers have collaborated on cross-continental projects.

Nicola Sturgeon Image:Tom Donald

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