THOUSANDS of people gathered in Barrow in a vibrant show of unity.

Diversity in all its forms was celebrated at Barrow's Unity Festival.

Crowds gathered inside and outside The Forum for an eclectic mix of storytelling, music, dancing and a slew of other activities.

Organised by equality campaigners AWAZ Cumbria and the Furness Multicultural Community Forum, it promised to remind people 'we have more in common than that which divides us'.

Among the acts that entertained crowds in front of the town hall were Indian band A New Jute Route and singer Pete Buckley, who delighted crowds assembled in Barrow's town square.

There were also workshops including music and DJing and Arabic writing.

Food tasting and street performers also delighted festival-goers.

The Cumbria Unity Festival consists of four individual festivals, held in Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal and west Cumbria.

This year marked the first time it had been held physically in Barrow following last year's online-only festival.

The theme of the festival was ‘healing together’ following two years of disruption caused by the pandemic.

Janine Adams, of Furness Multi-Cultural Community Forum, was delighted at how the day turned out, with at least 2,000 estimated to have attended the event.

Describing the idea behind the festival, she said: "It started in Carlisle in 2016. It's a festival about about inclusion, everybody getting together.

"The theme is 'healing together' - the last two years have been very tough.

"It's about people having a good time and having a go at different things, getting people to think and reflect and spend time together."

Barrow mayor started off the day with an opening address to the crowds, while councillor Tony Callister acted as compere to introducing the mix of acts on show

The first Cumbria Unity Festival was held in Carlisle in 2016, hosted by AWAZ Cumbria and supported by a range of statutory and third sector organisations.

Over the next three years, the festival grew and in 2019 won the Diversity Award of the year, before it had to be moved online in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid pandemic.