‘What Is the City but the People?’ As 160 Mancunians paced down the giant catwalk erected in the middle of Piccadilly Gardens (amongst them names like poet Lemn Sissay and Happy Mondays’ Mark Berry), so began Manchester International Festival. A biennial showcase and celebration of performance, theatre, art, music, and debate, MIF’s ethos for dynamic and forward-thinking curation is thoroughly rooted in the community and landscape of its city. Events will be held across cultural landmarks such as The Lowry, Manchester Art Gallery, and Old Granada Studios, and amongst hidden gems like an abandoned former University of Salford building, until 16th July.

Manchester’s renowned musical heritage takes form in the festival’s leading exhibition True Faith, which explores the significance of Joy Division and New Order across the past forty years. At the Royal Exchange Theatre, Fatherland recounts ‘songs and stories from a forgotten England’ with a soundtrack by Karl Hyde and Matthew Herbert, and What If Women Ruled The World? at Mayfield sees a cast of eleven women joined by different female scientists, politicians, activists and the like to try to solve the urgent crises of a post-apocalytpic future. 

On the music bill, Mary Anne Hobbs has curated the Dark Matter series, within which Paleman, Clark, Kojey Radical and more take over Gorilla and The Ritz for immersive and boundary-pushing performances. Alongside international names such as Arcade Fire, Sampha, and New Order are the intense audiovisual Amnesia Scanner show and La Mambanegra’s ‘Colombian break salsa’ at the Pavilion Theatre. There's also plenty of free events to pick and choose from too, most notably the HOME1947 immersive exhibition about Partition at The Lowry. MIF truly promises to be a spectacular couple of weeks.

To find out more about the festival and everything else that's on offer, and for links to tickets, visit http://mif.co.uk/

AuthorDuncan Harrison