GRUB is hosting a food, drink and craft market this September to mark ESEA heritage month

Taking place on Sunday 3 September, the event is dedicated to East and South East Asian heritages, cultures and histories.

By Emma Davidson | Last updated 7 July 2023

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Image: ESEAHM x MCR Festival

To mark the third annual ESEA heritage month, non-profit organisation Voice ESEA and ESEA hate crime and incident reporting company On Your Side have joined forces with social enterprise Be Exclusive Hospitality to host the first ever ESEAHM x MCR Festival at GRUB in Red Bank. 

The festival, taking place on Sunday 3 September, will bring together food, drink, arts, crafts and family entertainment to celebrate and acknowledge the East and South East Asian cultures that have shaped their own part of the city. 

ESEA (East and Southeast Asian) Heritage Month was first started by besea.n (Britain’s East and Southeast Asian Network) in September 2021. This year, it aims to raise its profile with a number of events outside of the Capital, and Voice ESEA, On Your Side and Be Exclusive Hospitality are now bringing the very first ESEAHM festival to Manchester, which is home to one of the UK’s largest populations of ESEA communities. 

This is the very first ESEAHM x MCR Festival. Image: ESEAHM x MCR Festival

This year’s theme is ‘Roots/Routes’, an exploration of cultural identity and belonging that will invite people to delve into the narratives of family journeys and stories, celebrating the wide range of experiences that contribute to the diverse heritages found across the North West.

Already confirmed for the very first ESEAHM x MCR Festival are a number of well-known businesses, including; Rosa’s Thai, Little Yellow Rice Co., Wong Dumplings, Jyoti’s Momo, Starry Cakery and Phat Rollz. Non-food vendors so far are Tarsier Spirit, Maketh by Me, and childrenswear company Ickle Bao. Other charity exhibitors include Glaucoma UK, Albert Kennedy Trust, LGBT Foundation and Show Racism the Red Card.

There’ll also be East Asian-inspired art workshops in the basement bar from Floating Art.  Over in the hall, Tarsier Spirit will be holding a gin and tonic masterclass and sustainable company Hút are providing their own brand of edible and sustainable drinking straws throughout the day, too. Additionally, in the 108-seater independent cinema CULTPLEX, MilkTea, who screen East and Southeast Asian cinema in the UK, will be putting on a free film screening alongside the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Eva Wong Nava, author of Chinese New Year, is hosting a family-friendly lantern making class at the festival. Image: Eva Wong Nava

As well as this, CULTPLEX will also host Voice ESEA’s Q&A and panel discussions with a number of ESEA individuals on topics ranging from cultures and food to representation and identities.

For families, author Eva Wong Nava, who wrote the book I Love Chinese New Year, will be telling the story of the mid-autumn festival, which takes place at the end of September, and teaching young people how to make paper lanterns. Hong Kongese face painter Connie Wong will also be in attendance. 

Adult tickets are £8, £4 for children aged 5-12 and free for under 5s, all of which goes back towards helping fund the work of Voice ESEA and On Your Side. Tickets also include goody bags (including products from Manchester-born artist Stanley Chow and Manchester-owned compostable dog poo bag company, Fetch-It) with discounts and coupons for some of the vendors and freebies for the first 100 people through the door, as well as entry to the films and panel discussions.