Manchester is a city that loves a celebration. A few years ago I visited for the day and unexpectedly found myself in the middle of an amazing parade of colourful dancers and live music which turned out to be part of Manchester Day. It was fantastic! Below I’ve compiled a list of 10 Manchester based festivals you might like to visit, as I believe Manchester knows how to throw a decent one!
Chinese New Year – 19th- 22nd February (FREE)
This will be a 4 day celebration of the Chinese Year of The Ram. It’ll be the second biggest outside of London, so expect extravagance, fireworks, light shows, and a 175 foot-long dragon in the end parade. There will also be a big Chinese food market in St Ann’s Square.
Grillstock Festival – 30th-31st May (Weekend ticket is £40 – see website for other options)
Do you like meat? Do you like music? If you answered yes to both questions, you’re bound to love Grillstock Festival, which is a city centre food and music affair. The tunes are Deep South inspired, and the weekend also promises entertainment such as fire breathers and eating competitions. Last year was a sell-out, so don’t dawdle with ticket buying!
Parklife – 6th & 7th June (Full price tickets yet to be released)
A weekend music festival organised by The Warehouse Project. Line up not announced yet but it’ll be a fairly varied selection, with a main focus on dance acts. Bizarrely the event rules this year sneakily include no ‘manbags’ on site and no selfie sticks either! Please note: there is no camping at this festival.
Manchester Day – 14th June (FREE)
The theme for Manchester Day this year is ‘Going Global’ which celebrates the city’s international connections. The parade is guaranteed to be amazing (and huge), and the city centre squares will be full of performances, installations, decorations and food and drink stalls from Noon until 6pm.
Manchester International Festival – 2nd-19th July (All events are individually priced)
This festival is 18 days of international arts events, such as theatre, music and talks. The last festival, in 2013, featured performances of Macbeth, Neneh Cherry live, and a seminar with Goldfrapp. This year’s line-up has yet to be announced, but keep your eyes peeled.
Manchester Jazz Festival – 31st July-9th August (All events are individually priced)
This year’s festival is the 20th, and promises us 10 days of excellent jazz in venues all over the city centre. Prices vary, and there are many FREE events to attend if you’re wanting to watch the pennies.
Manchester Pride Big Weekend – 28th-31st August (Tickets not yet on sale)
Manchester is home to the most famous Gay Village in the World, and so the main Pride weekend is a HUGE event. There’s music, dancing, drinking, stalls, community exhibitions, a candlelit vigil for those who have been lost to the HIV virus, and, of course, no Pride would be complete without a big parade.
Manchester Food & Drink Festival – 10th-21st September (All events are individually priced)
This festival is 12 days of gastronomic treats. There will be a huge Festival Hub which is free and will be set up in Albert Square, full of stalls. With no set location as such, the rest of the festival is spread throughout the city centre, with food and drink-related events all over.
Indy Man Beer Con – 8th-11th October (Tickets not yet on sale)
This is the Independent Manchester Beer Convention, and showcases great beer from across the UK. Get ready for tastings, talks and pop-up events (and lots of beer) all in the shabby splendour of the Victoria Baths.
Doki Doki – 7th November (tickets to daytime event between £10-£15pp)
This is the Manchester Japanese Festival. It has quite a packed schedule involving workshops, talks, language-based activities, video games, film screenings, music, taiko (traditional drumming), art, martial arts and a cosplay after-party.