A FREE family festival will take place this weekend to celebrate the launch of the new children's play area at Pennington Flash.

Celebrating the 'Flashes of Wigan and Leigh' becoming Greater Manchester’s first and only National Nature Reserve, the much-anticipated play area will be unveiled at the ‘Flashes Festival of Nature’ on Sunday, July 16.

The new play area is part of a £2.7m redevelopment of the Flash, which has also seen a lakeside coffee shop, a new visitors centre, and improved toilet and parking facilities at the nature reserve.

Recognising the ecological importance of the borough's wetlands, the festival will also have a host of nature-themed activities such as accessible walks and trails, foraging, face painting, ecocrafts and activities, nature stalls, and photography and wild art.

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Leigh Journal: The play area has been under construction for most of the yearThe play area has been under construction for most of the year (Image: Wigan Council)

Councillor Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities and neighbourhoods at Wigan Council, said: “The Flashes Festival of Nature is a chance for our whole community to come together and celebrate our precious flashes, which we were proud to see declared as a National Nature Reserve by Natural England last October.

“We’re so lucky to have these incredible environments on our doorstep and are working with Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Leigh Ornithological Society and other partners to conserve them for our wonderful local wildlife and to educate future generations about their importance and rare natural beauty.

“It’s going to be a brilliant day with so much to do for all the family - so come along, join in the fun, and connect with nature!”

Leigh Journal: The play area will be unveiled at the family festivalThe play area will be unveiled at the family festival (Image: Wigan Council)

The Flashes of Wigan and Leigh is a chain of eight separate wetland habitats running through Wigan, all created by the subsidence of land on former coal mining sites.

It was awarded NNR status in recognition of its ecological importance - including being home to the endangered willow tit.

The festival will take place on Sunday, July 16 from 11am to 3pm.