Manchester International Festival Reveals Full Programme for 2019

Big names including Skepta, Yoko Ono, Maxine Peak and Idris Elba join the program for Manchester International Festival 2019.

By Manchester's Finest | 8 March 2019

Share this story

Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original new work and special events, staged every two years in Manchester, UK.

MIF brings together world-renowned artists from different art forms and backgrounds to create dynamicinnovative and forward-thinking new work, staged in venues across Greater Manchester.

MIF19 takes place from 4th – 21st July 2019, with artists from across the globe creating an enormous variety of new work in spaces throughout the city.

YOKO Bells for Peace
Thursday 4th July, 6 pm

Yoko Ono invites the people of Manchester to gather together in Cathedral Gardens and send a message of peace to the world. Join thousands of diverse voices and a people’s orchestra of bells from home and abroad as the city rings and sings out for peace – and welcomes the world to Manchester.

No ticket required- just turn up on the day at 6 pm.


Tree with Idris Elba & Kwame Kwei-Armah
Saturday 29th June –Wednesday 10th July

Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s electrifying new blend of drama, music and dance follows one man’s journey into the heart and soul of contemporary South Africa – with the audience at the centre of the action.

Buy Tickets


Janelle Monae + Special Guests
Thursday 4th July, 7 pm

Janelle Monáe makes her MIF debut with an exclusive show on the opening night of MIF19. The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, producer, actress (Moonlight, Hidden Figures) and activist is playing just two UK dates in 2019 – and we’re thrilled she’s joining MIF for this one-off open-air show at Castlefield Bowl.

Buy Tickets


Skepta – Dystopia987
Wednesday 17th – Friday 19th July, 7 pm

Skepta invites you to enter another world in this series of intimate and immersive experiences. Held in a secret Manchester location, DYSTOPIA987 is a waking dream that presents Skepta’s singular vision of the future: deep, dark, radical and riveting.

Buy Tickets


Parliament of Ghosts by Ibrahim Mahama
Friday 5th- Sunday 21st July

This major installation reflects on the half-forgotten history of Ibrahim Mahama’s home country: Ghana, whose journey from British colony to independent nation was completed barely 60 years ago. The heart of Parliament of Ghosts is a haunting assemblage of lost objects, rescued and repurposed to form a vast parliamentary chamber in the heart of the Whitworth.
This work is free to view at The Whitworth Art Gallery.


School of Integration
Friday 5th – Sunday 20th July

Inverting the status quo, Tania Bruguera’s powerful, provocative and inspiring new work draws Manchester nearer to those who’ve made this city their home, inviting us to discover and embrace the diversity in our midst. Local people originally from countries around the world will give free classes on a curriculum that includes languages, culture, ethics, politics, economics and many other forms of knowledge. Open and free to all, School of Integration fosters cohesion and builds bridges of cultural understanding, encouraging us to eliminate the idea of strangeness and cherish a plurality of voices.

Buy Tickets


Invisible Cities
Tuesday 2nd– Sunday 14th July

Leo Warner, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Lolita Chakrabarti, 59 Productions and Rambert bring to life a series of fantastical places in this world-premiere production. Centred on the edgy relationship between Kublai Khan, the volatile head of a vast empire, and explorer Marco Polo, who must transcend a language barrier to describe it for him, this spellbinding mix of theatre, choreography, music, architectural design and projection mapping imagines a succession of alternative worlds – and reimagines what is possible in live performance.

Buy Tickets


David Lynch at HOME
Saturday 6th – Sunday 20th July

Line up to be Weird, wonderful and forever wild at heart – the iconic David Lynch is taking over HOME for the duration of MIF19. Featuring art, film, music and more, this special season of events is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of the pioneering American artist, musician and director of such works as Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks.

Music and film season to be announced.


Friday 5th– Sunday 7th July

Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray, the New York dancer-choreographer behind FlexN Manchester (MIF15), joins spoken-word powerhouse Young Identity and dancers from New York and Manchester for a thrilling, intense exploration of power and weakness, triumph and tragedy, anti-heroes and fallen angels.

Buy Tickets


Abida Parveen
Friday 5th July, 77:30 pm

An exclusive collaboration between the world’s greatest spiritual singer and a legend of South Asian classical dance, together for one night only at MIF19. For this rare UK date, Parveen will be joined by dazzling kathak dancer Nahid Siddiqui for a one-off performance together. Don’t miss this inspirational evening of sacred music and dance, a message of peace, love and harmony from two of the greatest devotional artists alive today.

Buy Tickets


The Anvil: An elegy for Peterloo
Sunday 7th July

The evening sees the world premiere of a major new piece of music by composer Emily Howard, one of our most original musical voices, and writer Michael Symmons Roberts, winner of the Costa Poetry Award. Both an elegy to the fallen and a celebration of our city, the work will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall by the BBC Philharmonic and a huge massed chorus featuring the BBC Singers and three Hallé choirs.

Buy Tickets


A Drunk Pandemic
Friday 5th– Sunday 21st July

The Manchester cholera epidemic of the 1830s is the unlikely inspiration for the first major UK project by one of the world’s most playful and provocative art collectives. Here at the invitation of Contact Young Curators, five emerging local artists brought together by MIF and Contact, Tokyo’s Chim↑Pom are building a temporary brewery in a secret city-centre location. Tour the secret brewery, try the beer, check out the special events – and expect the unexpected…


Atmospheric Memory
Saturday 6th – Sunday 21st July

At once a daring artwork and a sensory performance, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s breathtaking immersive installation scours the atmosphere for the voices of our past. Inspired by computing pioneer Charles Babbage’s 180-year-old proposal that the air is a ‘vast library’ holding every word ever spoken, Atmospheric Memory asks: was Babbage right? Can we rewind the movement of the air to recreate long-lost voices? And if so, whose would we want to hear?

Buy Tickets


Utopolis Manchester
Wednesday 10th– Saturday 13th July

Utopolis Manchester is a visionary site-specific work that uses intricate tapestries of sound and voices to transform our view of the city. Gathering in dozens of small groups at multiple locations, you head out to explore the people and places that shape Manchester’s daily life – and discover the many ways in which citizens build communities, society and democracy.

Buy Tickets


Leningrad: Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7
Thursday 11th July

A rare opportunity to get close to the genesis of major new artwork, and to experience a towering landmark in modern music: Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad’ Symphony. Written for more than 100 musicians and first performed in the midst of the siege of the composer’s home city during the Second World War, its creation was a triumph of the human spirit. Elder and the Hallé’s 2013 live recording won universal acclaim – and the piece will once more come alive in the concert hall.

Buy Tickets


Wednesday 10th– Sunday 21st July

Tuesday’s an old man now, nearer the end than the beginning. As he looks back on his life, which began when he was abandoned in a church by his mother, we travel with him through time – into his memories, his dreams and the moments that shaped the person he became. Beautifully staged in a Grade I listed Victorian church, Tuesday is a magical and moving show about the people, places and experiences that make our journey through life unique.

Buy Tickets


Maggie the Cat
Thursday 11th-Sunday 14th July

Troubled but tough, unloved but unbowed, Maggie the Cat is the captivating focus of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Now, acclaimed American choreographer Trajal Harrell places Maggie centre stage in his magnetic new dance work, a dazzling and provocative fusion of high art and pop culture that premieres at MIF19. Part one of a trilogy inspired by women who had to navigate treacherous waters to gain or retain their power, Maggie the Cat is a brilliant new work from one of contemporary dance’s most inspired and inspiring artists.

Buy Tickets


Re:Creating Europe
Friday 12th July, 8 pm

In a year when a deeply divided Britain is set to leave the EU, Re:Creating Europe explores the continent through the speeches and texts that have shaped, traced and defined its history. Created by De Balie and ITA, directed by Ivo van Hove and performed by the ITA ensemble alongside some very special guest performers, Re:Creating Europe uses the words of artists, thinkers and political leaders – from Shakespeare to Goethe, Churchill to Obama – to evoke the very notion of Europe, forcing us to reflect on what it is, what it was and what it could become.

Buy Tickets


The Fountainhead
Wednesday 10th-Saturday 13th July

Ivo van Hove brings his International Theater Amsterdam ensemble to The Lowry to perform his most controversial work. The Fountainhead is a gripping adaptation of Ayn Rand’s uncompromising 20th-century classic, a major inspiration for libertarian politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.

Buy Tickets


Tao of Glass
Thursday 11th– Saturday 20th July

Composer Philip Glass and performer-director Phelim McDermott (Improbable) have worked together on acclaimed opera productions in London, New York and beyond, and Tao of Glass is their most personal collaboration yet. Inspired by a dream, this world premiere marries ten meditations on life, death and Taoist wisdom with ten brand new pieces of music from Glass, presented by McDermott with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers.

Buy Tickets


Studio Creole
Friday 12th– Sunday 14th July

Seven leading writers from seven countries tell us seven new stories – in seven different languages. In an intimate, unique laboratory, we listen to them read: alone or together, in their original language or in live translation. And as we do so, their stories and languages fragment and fuse, leaving us to follow the narratives wherever they might lead us. This is Studio Créole, a compelling exploration of meaning and language in our tangled global world.

Buy Tickets


The Nico Project
Wednesday 10th-Sunday 21st July

From her 1967 debut with The Velvet Underground to her premature death just two decades later, Nico was one of pop culture’s most enigmatic figures. Now, Maxine Peake (performer) and Sarah Frankcom (director) are conjuring this visionary artist up from the shadows with a stirring theatrical immersion into her sound, her identity and the world in which she fought to be heard.

Buy Tickets


Queens of the Electric Underground
Saturday 20th July, 8 pm

Mary Anne Hobbs (BBC Radio 6 Music) brings together five of the most exciting electronic artists on the planet for an evening of pioneering sound and breathtaking visuals. Don’t miss this immersive journey into the future of electronic music, featuring exclusive sets from Aïsha Devi ft. MFO, Klara Lewis, Katie Gatley, and Mary Ann Hobbs.

Buy Tickets


Thank You Very Much
Wednesday 17th July- Saturday 20th July

Down at the end of Lonely Street – or Smedley Lane, as they call it in North Manchester – choreographer Claire Cunningham and her ensemble of leading disabled performers invite you to join them for a drink at a Cheetham Hill social club as they pull back the curtain on the glittering world of the Elvis tribute artist.

Buy Tickets