Manchester International Festival
29 June to 16 July 2023
Manchester International Festival, or MIF, is the city’s biennial arts festival. It’s two weeks of the year where you’re never quite sure what you might stumble across in the city’s parks, squares and unused spaces.
A giant, toppled Big Ben made of 20,000 donated books about British politics? The vast hall of Manchester Central filled with the sound of Cillian Murphy losing his mind on a lonely city night? The 2021 edition was full of surprising, routine-interrupting, illuminating moments like this.
All the artworks and performances are original commissions that are shown in Manchester first. Many are then taken to galleries, stages and festivals around the world.
Manchester International Festival 2023
Now in its sixteenth year, the next festival takes place from 29 June to 16 July 2023 and is the first time audiences can experience MIF’s brand new building, Factory International.
The first work to be presented in this permanent home is You, Me and the Balloons; a major exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s huge inflatable sculptures. (Her 2019 installation The Hope of the Polka Dots Buried in Infinity will Eternally Cover the Universe is pictured above.) Housed in one of Factory International’s warehouse spaces, it’s a fun, exhilarating experience.
The Festival Square, where you can go for food and drink and free live music, is at Factory International’s new outdoor space which overlooks the River Irwell.
Events are taking place all over Manchester, including a city-wide treasure hunt for collectible coin artworks by Ryan Gander, a celebration of our connection to water by Risham Syed and Angie Bual at the new Mayfield Park, and a chilling dystopian play in John Rylands Library starring Maxine Peake.
The music line-up includes Janelle Monae, Angelique Kidjo, Alison Goldfrapp, Sanam Marvi, John Grant and Richard Hawley, amongst many more.
Other highlights to look out for include a collaboration between Blast Theory and Manchester Street Poem which takes audiences on a walk through the city guided by a series of phone calls. And a collaboration between composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and mixed reality studio Tin Drum.
In the world of visual art, look out for The Trequartista, a project that brings together artists and footballers to explore the rebellious, creative character of the player who typically wears the number 10 shirt in a team.
The festival aims to be inclusive and accessible to everyone, so many events are free or priced at £10.
This is just a snap-shot of what’s on at MIF 2023. To see the full programme and get tickets, visit the Manchester International Festival website.