I’m not going to lie, writing this article has really opened my eyes to how many amazing festivals happen in Manchester every year, that had no idea about.
From music to science, Manchester’s social calendar is pretty impressive if you ask me- and I haven’t even been to most of them.
But in true Manchester form, there’s something for everyone- so check out our list of Manchester’s best festivals, and find out which one suits you!
If you haven’t already worked this out (see dodgy name), I’m part Italian and therefore LOVE Festa Italiana. After all, it’s a celebration of all things Italian, which is code for… FOOD! From creamy gelatos, to freshly carved salami and newly baked cakes, Festa Italiana is the event to attend if you love good food, good company and good music. The Italian ‘way’ is to eat food and be happy – so come and be one of us for the day, it’s bloody great.
Manchester Jazz Festival
Okay I know that jazz isn’t usually everyone’s cup of tea but it seems to be the main purpose of the Manchester Jazz Festival to bring this electric music to the masses, utilising a host of performances throughout the city, as well as the obligatory ‘Festival Square’ outside the Town Hall acting as a hub for all things jazz. You can expect a host of jazz musicians and performers from all over the world to descend on the city for one week, so if you’re a fan – this is your Mecca. If not, perhaps it’s time you tried getting into it again?
You know you’re getting old when say to 21-year-olds, “Ahh, I remember when Parklife first started back in 2010, when it was hosted in Platt Fields Park and tickets were only £15.” But I guess it just comes to show how far this teeny tiny little festival has come in the past 8 years. Parklife has earned itself a pretty good reputation for being a budget festival with amazing headliners, and I don’t see that streak changing anytime soon, considering it had the biggest turn out yet, last year. CBA camping but still wanna get your bindy out and get sloshed to Liam Gallagher? Parklife is the one for you.
Sound Of The City
June – July
Not gonna lie, I didn’t realise how huge Sound Of The City had become until this year, when I found out RAG’N’BLOODY’BONE MAN was playing at Castlefield Bowl. I was actually devo-ed I missed it, but I won’t make the same mistake twice. Set with a massive stage and a capacity of nearly 10,000 people, Sound Of The City isn’t just your run-of-the-mill summer festival, it’s an absolute whopper that has seen huge names, such as Arcade Fire, The Verve and even Blink 182 play since debuting in 2017. Basically, there’s no need to spend hundreds of pounds on a festival ticket elsewhere, because Sound Of The City has it all.
A seamless mixture of science and music, Bluedot takes place down at the brilliant Jodrell Bank under the shadow of the massive Lovell radio telescope. This year saw the Chemical Brothers headlining alongside Flaming Lips, Gary Numan and loads more – alongside the likes of Blue Planet in Concert, Richard Dawkins and even the odd bit of comedy. There’s always too much going on to just list but trust me, each year this will be one not to miss!
Manchester Fringe Festival
Why bother forking out an arm and a leg staying in Edinburgh when you’ve got your very own Fringe Festival right here in Manchester? With over 100 events set to take place over a range of venues, people of all shapes, sizes and ages finally have a stage to debut their creative talents; from stand-up comedy, poetry, puppetry, live music, musicals, mimes and even clowns (no thanks). The festival, which takes place every year (usually in July), isn’t one to miss, and really is the place to go if you need a laugh or two… Bring on next year!
Not your usual kind of festival, Festwich don’t need to worry themselves about artists or bands dying or getting run over or arrested – instead they rely on the talents of the many (brilliant) tribute bands out there to deliver two days of insane festival action. The weekend is split up into two distinct types of music, the Saturday is usually home to the heavy rock sets of the likes of Metallica, Slayer & Black Sabbath while Sunday is usually a bit more mainstream with Queen, Bowie, New Order and Fleetwood Mac. You won’t find a better line-up anywhere else in the world (or throughout history) and if you squint hard enough – you’ll think you’re watching the real people.
Manchester International Festival
July (every 2 years)
A firm favourite of Finest founder Lee, the Manchester International Festival never fails to impress or surprise with its eclectic range of events and performances since its inception in 2009. The past has seen performances from Kraftwerk in the Velodrome, Gorillaz performing their own re-working of an ancient Chinese legend, Elbow rubbing shoulders with The Halle and even Kenneth Brannagh playing Macbeth at the Church of St Peter in Ancoats. I’m sure there will be many people out there eagerly awaiting the line-up for 2019 – not just Lee!
Manchester Pride is one of my favourite weekends of the year, and continues to be the happiest, brightest and boldest festival in our beloved city. Like all Pride weekends across the country, Manchester’s festival – which has traditionally taken place primarily on and around Canal Street – rejoices in all things diverse; so what could possibly be better? There are drag queens, singers, dancers, performers and generally just people from all walks of life, coming together to celebrate their individualism. No matter what your sexual orientation, Manchester Pride is a festival for EVERYONE.
Manchester Food and Drink Festival
September – October
Food + Drink = Sold. Need I go on? MFDF is a nationally acclaimed event that has just celebrated its 21st year (wowza!), and won’t be ending anytime soon, that’s for sure. The festival takes place in various venues across the city- including a huge food and drink ‘village’ in Albert’s Square’- and hosts events such as cooking classes, lectures, tasting sessions and live music. It sounds like the perfect recipe for an amazing few weeks, if you ask me. But be quick, the festival is taking place at the end of September, so make sure you head down to one of the many events!
The Warehouse Project
Sept – Jan
I think us Manc’s take Warehouse Project for granted. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s just WHP, it happens every year… whatever’, but really, we don’t know how bloody lucky we are; it’s sick! Year in, year out, people from across the country make the journey to little old Manchester to see huge names, such as Deadmau5, Bonobo and Bicep- to drink and rave their socks off in one of the country’s coolest underworld scenes. If you’ve never been, you should, and if you have been, you know what to expect. Usually the night of your life.
Manchester Science Festival
Festivals aren’t just about getting trollied, they can actually be educational as well, believe it or not. Manchester Science Festival, produced by the Science and Industry Museum is taking place this October and is designed to provide an innovative, meaningful and surprising experience for people of all ages. After the success of last year’s events, its set to return this year, with an estimated 13,000 visitors set to walk through the doors. You may not think Science is ‘your thing’, but how do you know for sure until you see for yourself?
November – December
I mean, do I really need to say much about the Christmas markets? Other than the fact they’re the best things EVER. If you don’t like busy crowds, they’re probably not for you, but if you love everything about Christmas and can’t wait to feel that ‘Christmas Spirit’, then the Manchester Christmas markets are like an early Christmas present. Food stalls, gift stores, bars and live music; you can head down just for one cup of mulled wine, or you can make a day out of it… you make the rules! P.S can’t wait to demolish a Christmas dinner wrap again this year.