Manchester will be filled with world premieres, exclusive art performances, theatre, music and film for the Manchester International Festival in July. Performance spaces across the city will welcome a diverse range of renowned artists including Yoko Ono, David Lynch, Ivo van Hoe, Abida Parveen, Janelle Monáe, Maxine Peake, Idris Elba and Skepta.
Events will be held in various venues around Manchester from 4 – 21 July, with Albert Square set to become ‘Festival Square’ for the duration. Acting as a hub for the festival, there will be free live music, DJs, food and drink. Festival Square is also inviting foodies to enjoy a Michelin-star quality four course ‘Lazy Lunch’ in their intimate Glass House. Tickets cost £50 for a two-and-a-half-hour sitting.
Bells for Peace
Both a world premiere and the artist’s first commissioned work for the city of Manchester, the festival’s opening night will see Yoko Ono’s Bells for Peace. Meeting in the Cathedral Gardens, audiences will experience a sea of singing and bell ringing to amplify a message of peace. Many bells will be handmade locally, but attendees of this free event are also encouraged to bring their own bells and become part of the performance.
For the duration of the festival, iconic director, David Lynch will be taking over HOME, a venue known for championing multi-cultural and independent arts. Featuring the UK’s first major exhibition of Lynch’s paintings, drawings and sculptures, My Head Is Disconnected will be complemented by evenings of curated music and film viewings. Other highlights include a showing of the The Elephant Man, and a discussion on transcendental meditation. While the art exhibition is free admission, other events are ticketed and prices vary.
Inspired music evenings
One of the David Lynch-inspired evenings of music includes a performance arranged especially for the festival. Two exceptional musicians will join long-term Lynch musical associate Chrysta Bell on-stage at HOME’s Theatre 1 on 14 July. Cellist Oliver Coates, who has worked with Radiohead and Karl Lagerfeld, will be joined by unique Japanese vocalist Hatis Noit for a one-off musical experience. Tickets cost £16, but are discounted for Manchester residents on lower wage.
Acclaimed theatre director of the recent sold-out West End show All About Eve, Ivo van Hove, premiers his adaptation of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead to the UK at MIF19. Taking to the stage of The Lowry Theatre, this controversial story of unrelenting individualism and capitalism will be presented in Dutch, with English surtitles. With performances from 10 – 13 July, tickets start from just £18.
Abida Parveen with Nahid Saddiqui
Internationally renowned spiritual singer, Abida Parveen, dubbed as ‘the Queen of Sufi music’, will join with legendary classical South Asian dancer, Nahid Siddiqui, for an exclusive and one-off performance. Echoing the sentiment of Yoko Ono’s opening artwork, a message of peace, love and harmony will be projected from the performers. Coming to the stage on July 5, tickets start at £18.
The Nico Project
Celebrating the strength of a genre-defining female artist in a male-dominated industry, Maxine Peake channels the enigmatic yet troubled Nico, in The Nico Project. Known for her contribution to 1960s counterculture and debut with The Velvet Underground, Nico’s music helped shape generations to come. Catch this production from 10-21 July at The Stoller Hall, tickets costing £35.
Pop-up brewery tours
A pop-up brewery, unconventionally inspired by the cholera epidemic of the 1800s when thousands survived due to their consumption of beer over water, comes to Manchester from 5 - 21 July. Underneath Victoria Station, audiences can explore the temporary brewery, designed by the Tokyo the art collective Chim?Pom, for a one hour tour and are able try to specially brewed beer, with tickets costing £10.
Manchester is city full of musical connections, interesting venues, culture and hidden gems, and this summer’s MIF19 makes the pull for audiences to plan a culture-focused trip to England all the stronger.
Housed in a Grade II listed building, Cottonopolis Food & Liquor is a Japanese inspired bar and restaurant, nestled in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter. Serving innovative cocktails with Japanese inspired names such as ‘The frog in the well knows nothing of the sea’ and ‘Drunken life, dreamy death’, this stylish establishment will complement a day of international culture at MIF19.
With original 1920s glassware, dim lighting and entirely vintage décor, The Fitzgerald is a speak-easy style bar, offering delicious cocktails to an eclectic soundtrack. Just 15-minutes’ walk from Festival Square, it’s a spot known for playing disco, funk and soul and for holding weekly jazz nights every Thursday.
Salut Wines hails itself as a ‘no-nonsense’ approach to wine drinking. Offering a helping hand when it comes to picking precisely the right glass, each wine can be served in a 50ml ‘tasting’ size. Offering an impressive 42 wines to enjoy by the glass, many of which are hard to come by elsewhere, Salut go to every length to ensure every one tastes as good as it should.
A modern and memorable take on Chinese cuisine, Tattu, in Manchester’s Spinningfields area is a great spot for an international meal. Presenting an exciting menu of steamed, fried and baked dishes, the main focal point of the restaurant is a four-metre high cherry blossom tree that sits in the middle of the restaurant floor.
Accommodating no more than 30-guests, Where The Light Gets In, in Stockport, offers an intimate and unique dining experience, set in an former coffee warehouse. Although a little out from the centre of Manchester, this creative, completely ‘sans-menu’ restaurant offers a brand-new way to dine. Customers are not given a choice, but rather receive the dishes deemed to be the best use of that day’s produce, with all root vegetables coming directly from their own farm.
Known for its signature six and nine-course tasting menus, The French at the Midland Hotel is less than a five-minute walk from the festival hub. Recently refurbished and now with Adam Reid, winner of the BBC’s Great British Menu competition, as Head Chef, The French serves high-quality British cuisine in the heart of Manchester.
In the heart of the city’s Gay Village lies the four-star Velvet Hotel, an independent, extravagantly decorated place to stay in Manchester. Offering king rooms and luxe penthouse suites, its central location makes it a great base for enjoying MIF19.
Housed in a converted 19th century textile factory, ABode Manchester is a boutique hotel offering rooms and suites, each graded in their trademark categories. Starting with ‘comfortable’, their rooms go to ‘enviable’, and culminate at ‘fabulous’. Handily located in the centre of the city, this hotel also boasts its own restaurant and swanky bar.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the MIF hub, King Street Townhouse is a ‘baby grand hotel’, offering a range of stylish rooms. From snug and cosy, to spacious suites with roll-top baths and views of Manchester cathedral, this Italian renaissance building has a lot to offer. An infinity spa pool, cellar cinema room, mezzanine lounge and alfresco terrace all combine to create a great experience for a stay in Manchester.
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