Sounds From the Other City (SFTOC), Chapel Street, Salford, 30 April
NME magazine claimed “SFTOC itself is the truest representation of what Manchester music is today.” The festival, now in its thirteenth year always takes place over the spring bank holiday and is a celebration of new music and performance, uniting the cream of the local scene with the planet’s finest musicians and club nights for a fascinating sonic experience. Live from a range of venues on Chapel Street, Salford, previous interations have included landmark shows by Alt-J, Sampha, The Ting Tings and Marina and The Diamonds.
Great City Games, city centre, 26 May
The Great Manchester Run, Europe’s biggest 10k event, has now grown into a weekend festival of sport, including the Great City Games. It’s a unique event that brings world class athletes such as Jessica Ennis Hill and Mo Farah to compete on Manchester’s streets. The event takes place on the Great City Games track on Deansgate and at the purpose built athletics arena in Albert Square.
1940’s weekend, East Lancashire Railway Bury, 27 – 29 May
Enjoy the glamour and thrift of a bygone era as villages along the Irwell Valley are transformed into a living 1940’s period drama, with re-enactments, vehicle displays, singing, dancing and much more. The centrepiece for the event is the 12-mile East Lancashire heritage steam railway. Keep an eye out for vintage aircraft flyovers, which can be viewed from vantage points around the railway.
Parklife, Heaton Park, 10 – 11 June
Now in its seventh year, Parklife has gone from strength to strength and is now a staple on the UK summer festival calendar. Organised by the Warehouse Project crew, Parklife will once again bring its own brand of eclectic music to over seventy thousand festival goers in Heaton Park. Joining the revellers for this year’s event is a hand-picked line-up which includes Frank Ocean, The 1975, Boy Better Know, A Tribe Called Quest, Jess Glynne, Two Door Cinema Club, Fatboy Slim and Carl Cox.
Manchester Day, city centre, 18 June
An annual event to celebrate all things Mancunian, the centre piece is the Manchester Day Parade which will this year take the theme of ‘Abracadabra.’ Over 2,000 people from 90 community and social groups will stage a display of incredible diversity and culture in front of 60,000 spectators lining the streets, as the parade snakes it way through the city centre.
Manchester International Festival, city centre, 29 June – 16 July
A highlight of every odd-numbered calendar year, the biennial Manchester International Festival is back this summer featuring eighteen days of world premieres, collaborations and special events by internationally-acclaimed artists. Described by The New Yorker as “probably the most radical and important arts festival today,” this is the first edition of the festival under new Artistic Director John McGrath, and will feature more than 20 world premieres. A lot has changed in the last 12 months, and artists are responding in real time. This is where MIF’s commitment to commissioning new ideas from artists comes in to its own; many of these pieces are being made right now, and will continue to evolve in response to the events happening around us. The festival will open with a large-scale event for an audience of thousands created by the people of Manchester from an idea by Jeremy Deller and the festival will then continue with artists such as Boris Charmatz, Jane Horrocks, New Order, Arcade Fire, Underworld, Lucinda Childs, Frank Gehry, Mohammed Fairouz and Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Manchester International Festival ©
Sounds of the City, Castlefield Bowl, 30 June – 8 July
Sounds of the City is back this summer taking over the Castlefield Bowl once again, this time with performances from Richard Ashcroft, James, Arcade Fire, Haçienda Classical, The Levellers, The Waterboys and Blossoms. A huge event in Manchester’s summer calendar, Sounds of the City routinely book big name headliners and this year looks like it is the biggest yet!
Known for bringing the very best of the jazz world’s musicians to Greater Manchester’s doorstep, the 32nd instalment of the Wigan International Jazz Festival will take place over four days from Thursday 6 until Sunday 9 July at Robin Park, featuring this year’s headliners Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues orchestra and the Brandford Maralis Quarter. You can further immerse yourself in the world of jazz music when the Manchester Jazz Festival arrives in town a little later in the summer. This year’s event offers 10 days of contemporary jazz in the heart of the city with over 80 events at around 10 city centre locations, with plenty of free gigs on offer too.
Sparkle, Sackville Gardens, city centre, 7 –9 July
The Sparkle Weekend has been celebrating the trans community for over 10 years and now regularly welcomes over 4,500 people, making it the largest free trans event in the world. Taking place in Sackville Gardens in the Gay Village Sparkle is open to everyone who sees themselves as transgender – and this extends to friends and families. Sparkle Fringe will also return from 1 –7 July which promises to entertain, educate and thrill.
Bluedot, Jodrell Bank Observatory Cheshire, 7 – 9 July
Bluedot is a three-day multi-award winning festival which had its inaugural outing last year and explores the realms of music, science, technology and the arts. Set against a backdrop of the iconic Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, Bluedot combines a truly stellar line-up of music with a ground-breaking programme of live science experiments, expert talks and immersive artworks. Lonely Planet called it “the best geeky festival ever” and the Guardian labelled it “something unique and out of this world” and this year’s line-up lives up to the billing with Orbital and Alt-J just a few of the wonderful acts taking to the stage.
RHS Flower Show, Tatton Park Cheshire, 19 –23 July
Set in magnificent parklands the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park is a celebration of the best in gardening with a vibrant carnival atmosphere and is a spectacular day out for friends and family alike. The show is laid out in zones, each with a distinctive theme; there will be breath-taking displays, inspiring show gardens and the chance to meet top gardeners, along with live music and entertainment.
Rochdale Feel Good Festival, Rochdale town centre, 11 – 12 August
The Rochdale Feel Good Festival is a free, two-day food and live music celebration which takes place on Rochdale town hall square and attracts more than 15,000 people. This edition celebrates the festival’s tenth birthday and is across indoor venues, a main stage, a quality food court, family entertainment and the annual charity abseil down the town hall clock tower. Previous performers have included The Fratellis, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, The Feeling and Scouting for Girls.
Manchester Pride Big Weekend, Gay Village, 25 – 27 August
The multi-award winning Manchester Pride festival arrives in August with the Big Weekend, a 72- hour ticketed event in Manchester’s world famous gay village. The popular, vibrant Manchester Pride parade, runs through the heart of the city centre on the Saturday, meanwhile inside the Big Weekend site, expect performances from national and international artists in the Main Arena; a chilled out programme of music and entertainment in Sackville Gardens and hi-profile DJs in the 2,000 capacity Dance Arena. The festival closes with the poignant and moving George House Trust Candlelit Vigil, to remember those who we have lost to HIV and show solidarity in fighting the disease. A sea of candles light up the calm surroundings of Sackville Gardens.
Bolton Food and Drink Festival, Victoria Square Bolton, 25 – 28 August
Now in its 12th year the Bolton Food and Drink Festival is a four-day event over bank holiday weekend bursting with cooking demonstrations, speciality markets, live music, entertainment and family fun. Over 260,000 visitors flocked to last year’s event which is now routinely acknowledged as the biggest and best in the North West. There are around 180 stalls and this year’s festival will have cookery demonstrations from top chefs Ainsley Harriott, Simon Rimmer, James Martin and Michael Caines.
Ramsbottom Festival, Ramsbottom Cricket Club, 15 – 17 September
Taking place on the outskirts of Greater Manchester, ‘Rammy Festival’ is an award winning weekend produced by the team behind The Met arts centre in Bury; featuring over fifty amazing artists and musicians including international acts, emerging UK talent and local heroes. It returns in autumn for its seventh outing with what is sure to be another excellent line-up. The main stage has already seen performances from Fun Lovin Criminals, Sinead O Conner, The Proclaimers, Badly Drawn Boy, I am Kloot and Inspiral Carpets.