More than 900 people gathered in Nottingham to protest against government spending cuts and listen to authors and activists including Owen Jones.
The event, organised by campaign group The People’s Assembly, was set up to oppose planned austerity measures over the next five years.
This includes up to £12 billion of cuts to the welfare budget.
The event featured several speakers including the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers Christine Blower, as well as writers Frances Ryan, Lisa McKenzie and Owen Jones – a well-known author and columnist for The Guardian.
He said: “I want to tell millions of people across the country and those in Nottingham that this isn’t how it has to be.
“We can argue for policies that challenge the consensus so that we don’t have a society run for a tiny group at the top, but a society run for all of us.”
Attendance at the meeting was higher than expected, with some people forced to stand outside to listen to proceedings.
One of the panel’s other speakers, Lisa Mckenzie, added: “I’ve lived in Nottingham all my life and I’ve never seen energy like this before.
“It’s exciting but not all that enjoyable, because we’re trying to build a movement.”
Although the event was strongly anti-austerity, others across Nottingham believe cutting government spending is the best way forward.
A spokesperson for the Nottinghamshire Conservatives said: “The Conservative Party is committed to a long term economic plan that has delivered, and will continue to deliver, growth to the UK economy.”