Manchester International Festival
Manchester International Festival is back for 2017! The biennial festival will take over the city for 18 days at the beginning of July, centred as always around the Festival Square based outside the Town Hall. This year will celebrate a decade of MIF with a new Creative Director at the helm of the most exciting festival of new art and culture in the world. As always, expect the unexpected with a diverse programme of art, theatrical and musical events. One of the most thrilling elements of the festival is sure to be its innovative usage of public spaces, as past events have taken place in car parks, railway tunnels and churches.
Crystal Maze Manchester
Tying in perfectly with the news that the original TV programme will be resurrected this year, the Crystal Maze live experience that gripped London is finally coming to Manchester! Located in the Old Granada Studios, the experience will open this spring and tickets are already selling out fast. Perfectly replicating the original TV game show, the venue will include four ‘zones’ filled with challenging tasks for each team member to take turns competing with the hope of earning ‘crystals’. The number of crystals that you win as a team determines how much time you get to grab fake cash in the dome at the end of the experience. The best bit? You get to pose for a photo at the end wearing the iconic bomber jackets that contestants wore in the original show.
Dark Hearts of Space at The Lowry
This exciting audio-visual performance explores the British public’s interest in science (we have a certain local professor’s ‘Wonders of the Universe’ TV show to thank for that) with a healthy dose of techno music and creative visuals to provide the perfect Saturday night entertainment. The one-off show focuses on black holes, courtesy of abstract visuals by Stanislav Glazov that explore the otherworldly phenomenon. The music is provided by DJ Dasha Rush who will ensure that the evening doesn’t become too educational.
Manchester city centre plays host to many small independent music festivals throughout the year, but if you’re planning a visit to coincide with watching a diverse collection of bands play a selection of the city’s finest pubs and venues, we recommend crossing the Irwell and spending the Bank Holiday Sunday at the start of May soaking up the eclectic sounds of SFTOC. Sounds from the Other City festival may be officially located in Salford (centred on iconic music, arts and culture venue, Islington Mill), but it’s beloved of many Mancunians with a penchant for alternative music. Spend the entire day (and night) trawling up and down Chapel Street, popping into a diverse array of old fashioned pubs, warehouses, railway arches and community centres to witness some of the most exciting musical artists in the country.
Never Going Underground
The People’s History Museum is often overlooked in favour of Manchester’s other museums and galleries, but this year’s ‘Never Going Underground’ exhibition looks set to change that. Curated by members of the local LGBT community, this inspiring collection of works tells the complex story of the LGBT movement in the UK and the social context of over sixty years of activism. Launching at the end of February, the exhibition will run for just over six months.
Seeking something a little different to your usual night out? Junkyard Golf has returned to Manchester following a short absence, now located in Piccadilly Place. Constructed from just about anything the team could get their hands on, two brand new themed courses creatively reference popular culture and musical artists. A New York inspired menu and quirky cocktails complete the experience, allowing you and your friends to enjoy an entire night playing golf and sipping your drinks. Don’t miss the legendary UV rave room – glow-in-the-dark face paint is encouraged.
All the people, so many people… Since Parklife made the move from Platt Fields to Heaton Park it has grown in size to become one of the essential city-based music festivals in the entire country, rivalling the likes of Field Day and Lovebox in the capital. Drawing in young people from all across the country with the temptation of musical acts such as The Chemical Brothers, Jamie xx, Disclosure and Metronomy, the festival has come a long way since its early days as a predominantly student event located in Fallowfield. If you prefer falling into a comfortable bed after a day listening to music (and a night dancing at the after parties), sign up to the mailing list and keep your eyes open for tickets being released.
Manchester Pride, The Big Weekend
One of the longest running LGBT Pride festivals and parades in the UK, Manchester Pride always occurs over the August Bank Holiday weekend, providing a celebration for the entire city. Centred on the area surrounding Canal Street, the main festival zone is partitioned off with a wristband system in operation. Following the parade through the city centre, revellers flock to the area known locally as ‘The Village’ to continue the party on the streets and in the many local bars and clubs. A variety of DJs, musical artists and performers provide entertainment with the weekend raising thousands of pounds each year for LGBT charities.
Manchester Jazz Festival
Following Manchester International Festival, the city’s jazz festival kicks off at the end of July, ensuring that there’s no shortage of cultural events. Based in Albert Square, there will be live music, food and drink available every day as the very best in the national and international jazz world gather. Live performances across the city will be interjected by debates and special commissions yet to be announced. The longest running musical festival in the city may be hoping to win new fans this year, in the wake of the success of ‘La La Land’ which stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz-enthusiast.
Love them or loathe them, Manchester’s Christmas markets are widely regarded to be one of the best in the entire country. If you live in the city, chances are that you spend the whole of December avoiding the crush of Market Street and St Peter’s Square and seek out the smaller, more niche markets that have begun to pop up all across the centre. Visitors won’t mind the crowds that much if they concentrate on discovering the best mulled wine, pancakes and waffles on offer whilst seeking out unusual gifts for their friends and families.