A NEW festival celebrating Chester’s rich history of trades, guilds and shopping will take place over 11 days this March.

Chester Performs, organisers of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre and Chester Literature Festival, have announced Rogues’ Galleries will take place from March 14–24.

The free programme will see empty shop units in Chester city centre re-opened as artist studios. Creating an artistic interpretation of the high street, audiences can explore a range of performances, installations and workshops.

Amber Knipe, programme manager, Chester Performs, said: “Chester has a long and rich history as a ‘shopping city’ and this project sets out to celebrate the sense of independence and invention at the heart of Chester’s businesses, trades and guilds.

“The relevance of the project is obvious to Chester – the city has some of the oldest shopping streets in the country.

“Rogues’ Galleries celebrates the independence of thought and artistry that make up our communities.

“It will use closed high street shop locations and will to some extent address the struggles our high streets have experienced in recent years. Audiences will be invited to explore these themes with us as we question what it is to buy and sell on the high street today.”

The 11-day event will also feature a programme of short films and workshops, including, the return of the region’s original 48 Hour Film Challenge, Blogging for Beginners and Digital Marketing for Creatives workshops.

The project has resulted in joint working with Grosvenor Estates, Cheshire West and Chester council, Bride Hall, national furniture store, Sofa Workshop, as well as local businesses like Lombard House and Watergate Deli.

Venues will be open daily from Monday-Saturday 11am–6pm, Sunday noon–4pm with a special ‘late night’ opening on Thursday, March 14, until 8pm.

For details, visit www.roguesgalleries.co.uk.