ATfest is an ‘active travel’ festival taking place in the historic city of Chester, Cheshire on Sunday 18 June 2023.

The concept was born in the winter of 2021 after a number of local charities and community groups – Active Cheshire, Chester Cycling Campaign, Chester Residents’ Associations Group and Chester Sustainability Forum – emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic asking “what can we do to make Chester a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live, work and play?

Walking, cycling and wheeling – what we collectively call ‘active travel’ – simply means making journeys in physically active ways. Aimed at young, old and all ages and abilities, ATfest will be fun and informative, with the purpose to promote active travel as the natural choice for those short journeys to school, work or the shops. So, if you’re a driver, or car owner, who’s interested in reducing your car use then ATfest is for you…

In 2019 Cheshire West and Chester (CWaC) declared a Climate Emergency and its response plan has a target of reducing car travel by 25% by 2025. During lockdown we saw that vast numbers of people will walk, cycle and wheel if given the right environment. According to the 2020 National Travel Survey, published September 2021 – 25% of car trips were under 1 mile, and 71% were under 5 miles – so these shorter car trips offer us a real opportunity for a significant shift to active travel.

To tackle any obstacles and make active travel better, we need your help to understand the barriers, and enablers, so that we can help to plan towards an active travel network that works better for Chester. Because nobody understands the local network better than you do, we want to hear from YOU the people who regularly use it!

Click here to HAVE YOUR SAY to complete a short survey, register or to sign up for the ATfest 30 day Challenge.


AT Fest has been the passion project of a small group of dedicated individuals who have a real sense of the importance of this kind of event to Chester as a city. Whether you walk, cycle, scoot or wheel, this team are keen to support you and encourage you to enjoy a more active lifestyle in our fair city.

Stephen Perry

Stephen is the secretary and liaison officer for the Chester Cycling Campaign, of which he has been a member for 15 years.

A keen walker and cyclist, he has been a key member of the Cheshire West and Chester (CWaC) Active Travel Forum, and more recently, the Integrated Sustainable Transport Task Force.

Vanessa Bond

A city-centre resident, Vanessa is the creative force behind ATfest and comes from a legal and communications background.

She has been secretary of Chester Residents’ Associations Group (CRAG) since its formation in 2019. CRAG is an umbrella organisation of 20+ community groups within – and nearby – the city walls and earlier in 2022 it set up a local Chester group of the national charity Living Streets, which promotes everyday walking.

Vanessa represents CRAG and Living Streets on the Council’s Integrated Sustainable Transport Taskforce. In her spare time, she is an enthusiastic walker and occasional cyclist.

Taste Cheshire

Taste Cheshire is a local membership organisation representing food and drink across the county. As a result they have become event specialists, organising events such as Chester Food and Drink festival, farmer's markets, food and drink awards ceremonies, and Deva Fest among others. They joined the ATFest team to share their event management knowledge and promotional skills.

Mike Watson

Active Cheshire CEO Mike Watson has significant experience of working in and with the professional sport and activity sector at a national and local level.

Mike, 37, has joined the non-profit organisation after his career as CEO of Cheshire FA where he led the County Football Association. He worked alongside a dedicated board and multiple committees to govern the grassroots game across the county.

A highly experienced compliance, finance, and communications specialist, Mike has a passion for people. The business frontrunner has a track record of leading innovation and for ensuring a supportive, growth-mindset focused environment for staff, and the local community.

Martin Preston

Martin is secretary of the Chester Sustainability Forum, which brings together environmental groups, businesses and political parties with a common aim of improving the environmental sustainability of Chester and West Cheshire.

He is a keen walker, formerly chair of Cestrian Ramblers, and, when possible, he walks or cycles the paths and roads into Chester from his home in Mickle Trafford. Martin was a member of Cheshire West and Chester’s Active Travel Forum and more recently the Integrated Sustainable Transport Task Force.


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Team Talk

Chester is a unique city with a fabulous range of historical and modern features, excellent facilities and a vibrant community. Its compact nature means that all of these are readily accessible to residents and visitors alike.

Some aspects of our city centre infrastructure limit easy access by walking, cycling or wheeling but it is a far more accessible city than many residents realise. Active Travel for those 1-2 mile journeys into and across the city is a real alternative, with many more possible routes than people realise. Why not join us on 18th June 2023 and help us to broaden your knowledge and experience. Register now…

Whether you are motivated to improve the health and well-being of yourself and your family, or feel passionate about the need to reduce city centre air pollution and limit the risk of respiratory diseases, or you just want to make a small step to help reduce your carbon footprint, Chester’s first Active Travel Festival is a great place to start.

We will be working with local school, social and business communities to encourage as many people as we can to join in the fun and entertainment provided on the day. We also want to make sure that the journey into the city is part of the fun by encouraging community groups to travel in together, maybe in fancy dress, maybe dressed in school sports wear, maybe with decorated bikes. It’s up to you all to make it fun for everyone.
Email us now with other ideas that you may have to make the day more fun.

Our ambition is to ensure that at least 2000 residents from Chester and its near suburbs feel motivated to join us for a day of fun, entertainment and education. However there is also a serious side to our ambitions for ATfest 2023. We hope for many residents to make this event a first step for them to make a significant change in their travel behaviour.

In this process before, during and after the event, we want to understand the real and practical issues that dissuade people from using active travel and thereby identify ways to mitigate against these constraints and barriers in the future. Your participation and honest feedback will play a major part is helping us to achieve this ambition. Register now and complete our survey.