- By Emily Oldfield

Manchester Folk Festival returns to the city for a second year, with 2018’s event starting on Thursday 18 October and running until Sunday 21 October – with characterful gigs, workshops and immersive experiences across a series of close-by city centre venues.

This year’s festival will take place across five main locations: Gorilla, The Great Northern Warehouse, The O2 Ritz, The Anthony Burgess Foundation and last but not least HOME – where the English Folk Expo will also take place.

The festival features a range of live music celebrating many flavours of folk – from traditional acoustic music to high-adrenaline folk rock and even acts with more of a punkish influence.

Highlights this year include Billy Bragg bringing his latest album tour to the festival, an appearance from ‘60s icons Lindisfarne and a special Saturday afternoon performance from vocal harmony group The Wilsons. There will also be hands-on craft workshops – including leather belt making and spoon carving – happening at The Anthony Burgess Foundation, bookable online.

But here at HAUNT, we’ve set ourselves with finding features with an especially unique flavour – and you can pick and choose between them - as events are individually priced rather than involving weekend-long passes. Here is our pick of Manchester Folk Festival features with an unusual twist:

This Is Now Agency Showcase

The first day of the festival – Thursday 18 October – sees a unique gig take place at The O2 Ritz: much-loved folk artist Will Varley will be playing, as well as Skinny Lister, Beans on Toast and Xylaroo, presented by This Is Now Agency. This really is a showcase of innovative acts not to be missed. Will Varley delivers musing, emotive music, and Skinny Lister are a folk-rock powerhouse sure to impress. To add to that, Beans on Toast is a punk poet and singer with protest songs for the modern day whilst Xylaroo is Holly and Coco Chant; two sisters bringing a fresh folk sound through shimmering harmonies. What a unique selection – and tickets are still available online.

Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band

Known for her significant role in the current English folk revival, multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Eliza Carthy has fittingly already received an MBE for her services to music. She is coming to Manchester Folk Festival on Friday 19 October, where she will perform with The Wayward Band, an 11-piece group with a range of talent across instruments. This will take place at a unique pop-up venue at The Great Northern Warehouse, highlighting the unusual and immersive feel of the event. Another point worth noting, and perhaps even linking to gothic themes, is that Carthy has previously used archives of broadside ballads within Manchester’s own Chetham’s Library to inspire her work.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06fkm2g Tickets start at £20 and are available online.

Pub singaround

A characterful singaround in one of Manchester’s oldest pubs – The Briton’s Protection – is taking place on Sunday 21 October from 12pm onwards. Just turn up and join in, folk-style. This event, which will be hosted upstairs in the pub, sees Manchester's monthly Sunday Singaround joining with the Folk Festival for a unique special, which is free and open to all. The unaccompanied and spontaneous singing may feel unusual at first, but participants are sure to feel soon at home.

Book tickets via www.manchesterfolkfestival.org.uk, or HOME’s website at homemcr.org.