Manchester International Festival 19 – You’ll be MIFed if you miss it

Having only lived and worked in Manchester for just over a year, it’s unsurprising that the biennial Manchester International Festival has passed me by up until now. This celebration of global arts is back on our doorstep for its seventh instalment and there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone. There’s so much going on in this vibrant, 18-day-long mix of music, theatre, arts, crafts, talks, tours, food and drink (all with a splash of Manchester creativity) so here’s a brief rundown of what’s piqued my interest.



Bells for Peace – 4th July


Ask me about MIF19 and how The Beatles broke up and I’ll tell you the same thing: it all starts with Yoko Ono.


In her first major work for the city of Manchester and the first event of MIF19, Yoko Ono is calling for everyone to (quite literally) chime together in Cathedral Gardens and ring some bells in the name of peace. All jokes aside, our increasingly divided and cataclysmic world needs peace now more than ever and having Manchester at the heart of an attempt to bring it back together is something we should be proud of.


What’s more is that MIF is currently holding workshops where you can make your own bell to bring along! Or you can bring your own if you just so happen to have one knocking about.


David Lynch at HOME – 6th-21st July


Visionary. Influential. Shocking. Unique. Confusing as all f**k. These are just some of the terms I’d use to describe legendary film director David Lynch.


If you’re anything like me – a big fan of Lynch but have to spend hours of research to understand his work – you’ll no doubt be excited to take a warped trip through his mind as he takes over HOME for the duration of MIF19. There’ll be screenings of his most ground-breaking work and his first major UK exhibition My Head is Disconnected – which will feature paintings, sculptures and drawings all made by Lynch himself.


Personally, I’m very excited to see what makes the L-Man tick. Who knows, I may even leave the exhibit with a new found understanding of him – or I’ll be more confused than ever.



A Drunk Pandemic – 5th-21st July


A secret bar and brewery under Victoria Station? Tell me more!

It’s inspired by the cholera epidemic that struck Manchester almost 200 years ago? Riiiiight…


Yes, thousands of people only survived the epidemic by drinking beer instead of water (a choice I’m sure we can all relate to) and MIF19 are literally holding a p**s up in a brewery to mark the occasion.


Not only can you swing by for a pint, you can also take a guided tour of brewery itself (tickets still available at the time of writing) and the event page says to “expect the unexpected” – so who knows what else is in store in what is bound to be a truly unique drinking experience.

Atmospheric Memory – 6th-21st July


Computing pioneer Charles Babbage once proposed that the air is a “vast library” that holds every word ever spoken. If Babbage was right, then air around myself would be quite a deep shade of blue and the sight of it would probably be enough to make my mother faint.

Babbage’s proposal is the inspiration behind this immersive experience that claims to harness “phantasmagorical” effects (a word that I haven’t heard since the last time I watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) to transform the air around us into “something we can see, hear and even touch”. Trails of vapour, ripples of water and 360-degree projections will be used to bring speech before our very eyes in a custom-built chamber outside the Science and Industry Museum. It sounds (or should I say looks?) very intriguing indeed.


Alphabus – 5th-7th July


Brazen PR and social media client Great Northern Warehouse is hosting this dynamic mix of spoken word poetry and dance. New York dancer-choreographer Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray is teaming up with Manchester spoken-word group Young Identity to provide a fusion of local and international arts – a theme that lies at the heart of MIF19.


Great Northern’s Unit 5 will provide the backdrop to the show’s world premiere – combining a historic and industrial setting with modern performance, Alphabus promises to be a captivating and moving experience.


Festival Square – 4th-21st July


If high-brow arts and entertainment isn’t your cup of tea and you just fancy a bit of a knees-up, Albert Square is the central hub of this year’s festival. Here you’ll be able to enjoy a range of food and drink plus FREE live music and DJs. It’s also where you can find out more about and purchase tickets for the many, many events that are taking place this year across the city.


If this blog has got you wanting more then I’d highly recommend heading to for a full guide of what to expect between 4th-21st July and to book tickets for any and all of the events. See you there!

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About the Author

Matthew Rainford