Manchester's Festival of Libraries unveils diverse and exciting programme for 2023

Manchester's Festival of Libraries 2023 features exhibitions, performances, talks, workshops, and art installations to celebrate the creativity, community, and culture inherent in Greater Manchester's 133 libraries.

By Manchester's Finest | 1 May 2023

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Manchester is gearing up for Festival of Libraries 2023, with an expansive and diverse programme of events planned to showcase the city’s 133 libraries. From Wednesday 7th June – Sunday 11th June, residents and visitors can enjoy a series of exhibitions, performances, talks, workshops, and art installations celebrating the importance of libraries in Greater Manchester’s communities. Supported by Arts Council England, the festival’s events will be free and take place across the entire region.

A series of Inspired By Libraries talks will feature writers, poets, artists, and observers with a shared passion for libraries. Dave Scott and Andy Spinoza will discuss Manchester’s bold evolution, with Scott spotlighting his new book, Mancunians, at Bolton Central Library on 11th June. Spinoza will delve into Manchester’s transformation from industrial decline to cultural powerhouse at Altrincham Library, also on 11th June.

Chetham’s Library

Manchester’s music history will be further explored in Ed Glinert’s talk, Manchester: Tales of Rock & Roll Excess, at Altrincham Library on 8th June. Meanwhile, Linda Brogan will share her experiences excavating the city’s famous Reno Club at Manchester Central Library on 10th June. Cheddar Gorgeous of RuPaul’s Drag Race will join author Paul Burston at Chetham’s Library on 7th June, using library resources to inspire dreaming big.

Poet laureate Simon Armitage’s talk at Eccles Library on 9th June is part of his ten-year library tour, celebrating the value of libraries. He will also lead a creative writing masterclass at Manchester Central Library earlier that day.

The festival includes numerous creative projects and workshops. The Underscore mass observation project, created by theatre and performance group Quarantine, will explore everyday activities and global news events at Manchester Central Library on 9th June. Chetham’s Library will host What’s in a Word on 9th June, a family-friendly event exploring the meaning of words and phrases. On 10th June, Stockport Library will present the Human Library, encouraging conversations and curiosity.

Make Mine Manga

Several exhibitions will be held throughout the festival. Make Mine Manga, a celebration of manga comic art, will be at Bolton Central Library from 6th – 30th June. The Rainbow Library project, aimed at addressing LGBTQ+ representation in children’s stories, will exhibit the creative work of young adults at Manchester City of Literature. NHS Untold Stories will commemorate two anniversaries: the 75th anniversary of the Windrush arrivals and the founding of the NHS at Manchester Poetry Library.

Family-friendly activities abound, with Oliver Sykes’ Fishing for Rainbows adapted into theatre performances at various libraries from 7th – 9th June. The Story Stem, an interactive storytelling session, will visit Oldham, Rochdale, Trafford, and a yet-to-be-confirmed Bolton library from 8th – 11th June.

John Ryland Library

Several workshops cater to different interests: poetry with Oliver James Lomax at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford on 11th June, South Asian community vibrancy with Anjum Malik at Manchester Central Library on 7th June, and identity exploration with Lydia Hounat at The Portico Library on 9th June.

Writing for Wellbeing and Pathways into Publishing, both aimed at supporting writers, will take place at The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and The Portico Library, respectively.

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, an Icelandic writer, will serve as the International Writer in Residence for the Festival of Libraries, creating a piece of writing to be shared at the Manchester Literature Festival in October 2023. Ólafsdóttir will also participate in a conversation at The Whitworth on 11th June, discussing her work and experience in Manchester.

The Festival of Libraries 2023’s comprehensive programme highlights the importance of libraries as community spaces, sources of inspiration, and cultural hubs. The festival encourages exploration and connection between diverse audiences, fostering a greater appreciation for libraries and the vital roles they play in the lives of the people they serve. With a diverse range of events and activities, there is something for everyone, from book lovers to history buffs, artists, families, and more.

Festival of Libraries takes place from Wednesday 7 June to Sunday 11 June. More information can be found at and the coming weeks there will be further festival announcements including who will headline this year’s Look for a Book A small number of the events are ticketed, which you can book here.