Manchester International Festival is just a couple of weeks away from filling the city with culture from Thursday 1 until Sunday 18 July. And, as always, MIF has put together a staggering programme of free events at its home in Festival Square – this year, that’s Cathedral Gardens – where everyone can suck up the atmosphere without it costing them a penny. Here are our top five events you should be making suitable gaps for in your diary…

Homoelectric & Yes Festival Square Takeover | Sat 10 Jul | Noon - 2am

You’re already sold by the headline, we know, but please pay attention through the line-up details because they’re going to knock your bloody socks off. Now Wave’s go-to venue for anything fresh, YES control the stage from midday with back-to-back live and DJ sets from Me Gusta, Remake Remodel, The Goa Express and Chips With Everything, finally handing over the stage to BBC Introducing at 5pm for a set from Manchester’s own Porij. From 6pm until 8pm, hip hop one-to-watch, Jamaal Monarch, and broken beat duo, Flex, set the standard, before Homoelectric’s Luke Una, Gina Breeze, Jamie Bull, Will Tramp & Lukas Bugatti, House of Ghetto and Jason Andrews take on proceedings until 2am.

Billy Nomates | Tue 13 Jul | 9pm

Uh-huh… you’re reading that right. One of the most talked about artists of the year is lined up to play as part of the packed July 13 programme on Festival Square.. FOR FREE! Frankly, we’d head down early to catch some of the Loose Articles set at 8pm too, but this 9pm until 10pm slot is a must see. A one-woman wonder Billy Nomates (aka Tor Maries), uses her no-wave synth sound to frame empowering switched-on lyrics – meaning you’ll come away both entertained and smarter for the experience.

Dave Haslam Presents... The Griot Experience | Sun 4 Jul | 4.30pm - 8.30pm

Griot City Records is one of the best indies the city currently has, using its platform to champion musical poets – or, as they put it, it’s “the place where spoken word and music converse”. Under the watchful curation of MIF regular Dave Haslam, Griot City Records has picked out a bunch of incredible artists to deliver four solid hours of live performances – taking in Reece Williams, Jardel Rodrigues & Chris Jam, and the extraordinary SheBeKeKe – all topped and punctuated by multiple sets from DJ Werkha.

Chloe Foy live & Jane Weaver DJ set | Wed 7 Jul | 7.30pm - 10pm

Women of considerable musical talent take over the square on Wednesday 7 July, as Chloe Foy is finally ready to launch her debut album – Where Shall We Begin – with an hour-long set from 7:30pm. She hands over the rest of the night to BBC6 Music favourite Jane Weaver for an eclectic 90 minutes of top selections, and between them, they can cover pretty much every style of music you’ve ever considered. Foy tenderly tickles folk, indie and jazz influences, while anyone who heard Jane’s Desert Island Disco selections on Lauren Laverne’s morning show will know that she’s capable of pulling just about anything out of her record bag.

Fabaret! | Sat 17 Jul | Noon - 2am

Another full day worth staying out and up for, Faberet! is the festival’s “flamboyant queer revue featuring four shows for the price of none”. That’s a pretty good deal in anyone’s book, but it’s a particularly fine one here because for zero price you’ll start the day with the wonderful LayFullstop and finish it having also witnessed the inimitable Cheddar Gorgeous, Reform Radio’s Trees.R.Good and KING, 10 spoken-word artists taking on the One Mic Stand poetry slam, and DJ sets from Good Afternoon, Kath McDermott and High Hoops. Definitely take some bar money – you’re gonna need some serious H2O energy to stay lively through this 14 hour marathon.

Fri 2 Jul - Sun 18 Jul, Cathedral Gardens,
Corporation Street, Manchester M4 3BG
Sarah Walters
Published on:
Wed 30 Jun 2021