An incredible line-up of artists, business leaders, scientists, writers, campaigners, musicians, dancers and many more from Chester and beyond will appear at the inaugural WOW – Women of the World Chester.

More than 40 events make up the programme, ranging from a Beyoncé dance class to a workshop on how to get A payrise.

Taking place between May 20 and 21 at Storyhouse – the brand new £37m theatre, cinema and library – WOW Chester will see leading female voices from across the region discuss, debate and celebrate the theme of ambition and explore the paths to a gender equal world.

Performances include Pram Talks, an interactive audio performance for two parents at a time; Chester company Haylo Theatre present Over The Garden Fence, a fast-paced, uplifting and comical exploration into family, life and relationships; a performance by Fallen Angels Dance Theatre; and Bishops High School year 9 theatre company Assemble perform a verbatim piece based on interviews with real young people about the theme of equality.

Phyllida Lloyd, highly acclaimed director of stage and screen including Mamma Mia, The Iron Lady and the groundbreaking all-female Shakespeare Trilogy at the Donmar Warehouse joins the festival alongside Sue Flood, award-winning wildlife photographer, author and filmmaker; and Southbank Centre’s Artistic Director and WOW founder Jude Kelly CBE.

There will be panel discussions on a range of subjects including women in business featuring Simone Roche, founder of Northern Power Women, Nicola Palios, vice-chairman of Tranmere Rovers Football Club and Anna Kessel, sports writer for the Guardian and the Observer discuss women in football.

Jody Day, author, trainee integrative psychotherapist and the founder of Gateway Women joins a discussion on childlessness.

And following 2016, an amazing and terrifying year, with so many negative and positive things happening for women and girls, a debate on women, power and change will feature campaigner and Cheshire Woman of the Year Kate Northcott Spall, Nicola Waterworth from The Parliament Project North, and Hannah Philp, co-director of the Ask Her To Stand campaign.

The film Sonita (winner of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary) will be screened in the brand new Storyhouse cinema.

The Under 10s Feminist Corner, interactive workshops for youngsters, will explore what it means to be a girl and how to start a feminism campaign from their bedroom.

The festival will be rounded off with Funny Women, an evening of stand-up comedy featuring Barbara Nice (Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, BBC Radio 2’s Barbara Nice), Lindsey Santoro, Ruth E. Cockburn, Molly Naylor and MC Lou Conran.

Plus, all weekend a marketplace will be hosted in both the former library on Northgate Street and in Storyhouse’s impressive foyer with a range of stalls providing information, raising awareness, and showcasing work, craft and fashion.

Launched by Southbank Centre in 2010, WOW is now a global movement, with international WOW festivals reaching over one million people across five continents, and growing year on year.

Following a series of open public planning sessions called Thinkins, WOW Chester has been programmed by contributors, thinkers and doers based across the region.

Tickets for WOW Chester are now on sale.

For tickets and to see the full line-up, go to