18 Amazing Events to see at Manchester International Festival 2017

Opening this year at 6.30pm on Thursday 29th June with What is the City but the People? a large-scale public celebration of Manchester; followed by Manchester music legends New Order performing at Old Granada Studios in a spectacular immersive environment.

By Ben Brown | Last updated 5 July 2017

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MIF brings together world-renowned artists from different art forms and backgrounds to create dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking new work, staged in venues across Greater Manchester – from theatres, galleries and concert halls to railway depots, churches and car parks.

Opening this year at 6.30pm on Thursday 29th June with What is the City but the People? a large-scale public celebration of Manchester; followed by Manchester music legends New Order performing at Old Granada Studios in a spectacular immersive environment.

So far more than 4000 local people have participated directly in MIF17, including around 500 taking part in MIF commissions, as well as being involved in My Festival, a major programme of work with local people designed to build ongoing relationships through creative projects, skills development, training and more.

MIF continues until 16 July and features 25 new commissions and special events including:

What Is the City but the People?
What Is the City but the People? will see a unique selection of individuals from across Manchester, many recruited via open auditions, walking along a runway through Piccadilly Gardens for an audience of thousands. What Is the City features live music from Graham Massey, assisted by an unexpected mix of local musicians. Directed by Richard Gregory and made in association with Islington Mill.


True Faith
Over at Manchester Art Gallery, True Faith explores the ongoing significance and legacy of Joy Division and New Order through the wealth of visual art their music has inspired, with work from artists such as Julian Schnabel and Mark Leckey.


New Order + Liam Gillick: So it goes…
Sees the band playing with a 12-strong synthesiser ensemble, orchestrated and conducted by Joe Duddell inside a unique installation from Gillick.


In Fatherland, Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham, Underworld’s Karl Hyde and playwright Simon Stephens have created a bold new show about contemporary fatherhood. This emotive collage of words, music and movement will transform the Royal Exchange Theatre, animated by a 13-strong cast, and a thirty-strong chorus delivering Hyde’s extraordinary score.


A major show from Egyptian-born artist Susan Hefuna at the Whitworth exploring stories of migrants to Manchester, and including a public performance developed with Company Wayne McGregor and local residents originally from 15 different countries, as far afield as Iran, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Kuwait.


Party Skills for the End of the World
The apocalypse looms large in Party Skills for the End of the World an immersive theatre event where you’ll learn the essential skills you’ll need to survive when the end is nigh – from starting a fire to mixing the perfect Martini. Created by Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari of the acclaimed Shunt Collective, Party Skills is accompanied by Dinner Party at the End of the World, created by wonderful Manchester chef and MIF favourite Mary-Ellen McTague.


Jane Horrocks’ Cotton Panic!
Cotton Panic! tells the story of a pivotal moment in North West history – the Civil War era Cotton famine, when the supply of raw cotton dried up and the prosperous North was brought to its knees. Featuring live music, drama, words and film, the show is created by Jane Horrocks, Nick Vivian and Wrangler, the new band of Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire.


Returning to Reims
A rare Thomas Ostermeier directed world première outside Berlin and is an urgent response to the new populist politics sweeping Europe. This is a co-production with Ostermeier’s Berlin theatre, the Schaubuhne, and with Manchester’s HOME.


What if Women Ruled the World?
In What if Women Ruled the World? artist Yael Bartana enlists international female experts alongside a cast of leading actresses to help answer this most relevant of questions. Inspired by the apocalyptic ending of Dr Strangelove, What if Women Ruled the World?  is created with the Royal Court’s Vicky Featherstone and writer Abi Morgan.


Artist Phil Collins will bring MIF to a close with Ceremony, a live film event celebrating one of Manchester’s greatest residents – Friedrich Engels – in a uniquely contemporary and playful way. Collins will bring Engels back to Manchester in the form of a Soviet-era statue, collected from Russia and transported across Europe, to be installed in Manchester’s Tony Wilson Place.  Performers, musicians and the people of Manchester will help create a unique ‘live film’, mixing footage from the statue’s journey across Europe with live coverage of its inauguration, featuring a soundtrack by Mica Levi and Demdike Stare, a new anthem by Gruff Rhys, and stories of today’s Manchester workers – who Collins met during his year-long MIF17 residency.


Festival in My House
A series of micro-international festivals curated by local people and hosted in their own houses for neighbours, friends and MIF audiences that will be showcased on Festival Square in the first weekend of MIF, as well as six bursaries for Greater Manchester-based creative professionals supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Creative 50, a three-month programme of digital experimentation with 50 aspiring and emerging artists and creatives from across Greater Manchester.


Music for a Busy City
Taking six leading composers – Mohammed Fairouz, Matthew Herbert, Huang Ruo, Anna Meredith, Olga Neuwirth and Philip Venables – out of the concert hall and into the public spaces of Manchester. Six new pieces of music will be created in response to a specific spot, from shopping centres and train stations to the Town Hall and St Anne’s Square.


The Welcoming Party
A new work for children and families by acclaimed company Theatre-Rites which uses puppetry and immersive theatre to tell the stories of young people who have travelled to Manchester looking for a place where they can feel safe and sound.


Aimed at younger audiences, BambinO is an opera for babies aged 6 – 18 months, composed by Scottish Opera’s Lliam Paterson and directed by Improbable’s Phelim McDermott, fresh from directing at the ENO and LA Opera.


Last and First Men
An extraordinary new multimedia work by Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Arrival, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049), combining music, film and Tilda Swinton’s elegiac narration.  The BBC Philharmonic will be performing live with the film at the Bridgewater Hall.


Double Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Girl in the River) reflects on the lived experience of Partition with HOME1947. A series of films within an installation at the Lowry, this remarkable commission visits residents of Delhi and Lahore 70 years on from the largest mass-migration ever. Marking the opening of the exhibition is a concert from two of Sufi music’s brightest female stars, Sanam Marvi and Harshdeep Kaur performing together for the very first time.


No End to Enderby
Celebrating the centenary of local hero Antony Burgess’s legacy, this film installation at the Whitworth takes the core character from one of Burgess’s great novels on a time-traveling journey.


The World Was Once All Miracle
Composer Raymond Yiu has created a major new symphonic song cycle in response to a series of Anthony Burgess’s poems, performed by the BBC Philharmonic.

New for 2017, Festival Square, the home of the Festival on Albert Square, is getting a new look from designers Paloma Gormley and Nicholas Henniger. They are creating new structures to welcome the 125,000 people that will visit to enjoy delicious food and drink, experience music, talks, club nights, free DJs every night and much more.

Some of the UK’s best chefs will be cooking on Festival Square, including Gary Usher, Mark Hix and Paul Heathcote. Media partners the BBC, the Guardian and Manchester Evening News will all have a presence on Festival Square; look out too, for walking tours themed around MIF commissions.

MIF17 features more music than ever before – from the best of local promoters and thrilling world music at the Festival’s own Pavilion Theatre, to one-off gigs from big names including Arcade Fire, Sampha, Bonobo and new music from a resurgent Ride.

6Music’s tastemaker Mary-Anne Hobbs curates a special series of gigs themed around Dark Matter, with artists as diverse as local grime stars Levelz, experimentalists such as Haxan Cloak, and heavy, heavy rockers Sunn O)).

For more information head to http://mif.co.uk/