Throughout August, wagamama will be showcasing LGBTQIA+ artists at soulful outdoor performances titled, Soul Sessions. The live music sets will take place between 6:30-8:30pm on different weekdays, dependent on location, at some of the restaurants’ most iconic outdoor dining locations. Soul Sessions will celebrate some of the diverse and empowering voices hailing from the LGBTQIA+ community as part of their pride celebrations this year.
wagamama is also treating its’ guests to a summer cocktail or mindful drink if they quote ‘Soul Sessions’ on arrival during the events. Cocktails available include a Pandan Colada, a twist on the classic pina colada with the addition of fragrant pandan. a refreshing Sake Spritz, and a Thai Chilli Margarita for those that love some heat in their cocktails. For those wanting a non-alcoholic option, their mindful drink menu will be on offer including the cherry blossom lemonade.
Expect up and coming, grass roots singer-songwriters such as Kitty Perrin, Toby CortonandBessi in venues across the country. Kicking off on the 1st of August, the outdoor gigs will be at the Bankside, and Victoria restaurants in London, with one final restaurant to be announced. In the south at the Cardiff Library, Exeter and Ashford branches and in the North, Soul Sessions will take place at the Lincoln, Manchester Spinningfields and Birmingham New Street branches.
To find out more about the current Soul Sessions timetable and live music locations and Pride at wagamama, please visit: https://www.wagamama.com/proud-together
Strong advocates for inclusivity both internally and externally, wagamama continues to show its alliance with the LGBTQIA+ community this summer and beyond. With soaring rents and post COVID-19 consequences, LGBTQIA+ safe spaces and historic hospitality venues are struggling in decline and crisis, in April 2023, the London Assembly urged London Mayor, Sadiq Khan to protect and create more venues for grassroots cultural organisations. wagamama will be supporting 3 grassroot-led organisations and queer venues across the UK, to offer support and resources, so that they can continue giving back in their communities. Through this, wagamama have partnered with:
1. The Spencer Trust an east midlands-based organisation who work to bring the local queer community together to empower others and support each other’s mental well being
2. Across Rainbows a café in brighton who are on a mission to redefine queer identity and celebrate the diverse stories and experiences of their community, through events and workshops
3. The London LGBTQ+ Centre a sober, intersectional community centre and cafe that opened in December 2019 from a need to urgently tackle the isolation + loneliness the community was experiencing, through hosting regular groups, meditation, yoga, theatre groups and exhibitions.
This local support varies from financial donations to aid their missions, providing space for events and networking opportunities, offering catering and food drops for events and opening the floor for volunteering and training opportunities.
On the 29th of July, wagamama will be hosting a pop-up cinema in Sheffield Winter Garden to celebrate Pride in collaboration with The Village Screen. wagamama will be offering 100 free tickets to see the film, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, a story of three drag queens en route to Hollywood who find themselves stuck in the town of Nebraska after their car breaks down. Each ticket will also include free cocktails and some iconic wagamama sides to enjoy with the movie.
wagamama is also proud to be platforming queer illustrator and artist Josh McKenna’s artwork again, now in a permanent installation in its Brighton restaurant. Josh’s work is tongue-in-cheek, bold, diverse and all-inclusive, which also represents the vast and diverse teams at wagamama.
In addition to these exciting events, wagamama kicked off their pride celebrations this year with a special event series to give back to their restaurant teams. The brand hosted their team members at drag brunches across the UK. They closed down a number of restaurant locations early for an afternoon of free cocktails, drag hosts, DJ sets and a specially curated menu to celebrate diversity across the wagamama team. For a glimpse into the celebrations, please see a highlight Reel here.