This week sees the return of Manchester’s Festival of Libraries, a joyful celebration of the role that Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries play in wellbeing, culture, creativity and more.

Running from Wed 7 Jun – Sun 11 Jun, the festival spans everything from internationally renowned venues such as Central Library, Chetham’s, The Portico and John Rylands right through to essential local libraries across the region, reflecting Manchester’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Now in its third year, the 2023 edition highlights the vital community and cultural role our libraries hold, with a completely free programme that spans live music, library exchanges, dance and theatre, poetry, a writing trail and an array of family-friendly activities.

Among the festival highlights is a series of Inspired By Libraries talks, featuring incredible writers, poets and artists. This includes appearances by Dave Scott, Raymond Antrobus, Andy Spinoza and Ru Paul’s Drag Race star, Cheddar Gorgeous.

Credit: Samantha Guess

Taking place on Fri 9 Jun at Stockport Central Library is Weather Forecast: Points North, an hour of exploration, readings and discussion for which three writers from Reykjavik, Hull and Manchester have spent time together to develop original pieces of writing.

A series of exhibitions will also invite audiences to explore stories in different forms. Make Mine Manga celebrates the popular comic book artform at Bolton Central Library, Rainbow Library addresses the visibility and demand for LGBTQ+ children’s stories and NHS Untold Stories spotlights the contribution the Windrush generation made to the National Health Service.

A number of family-friendly activities will run throughout the festival, including the Schools Writing Trail which will showcase the work of 101 young writers. More than 40 schools in Greater Manchester have participated in the trail, displaying writing in 12 languages featuring poetry, fiction and extraordinary imagination.

Cllr Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, says: “We’re delighted to share the creativity of Manchester’s young people in the brand new Schools Writing Trail during the Festival of Libraries this year. There are over 100 pieces of original writing in 12 languages by some of Manchester’s brightest literary stars. You can see the trail in June across cultural venues around the City which feature writing connecting community arts centres, schools, universities, and libraries with over 40 schools in Greater Manchester.”

Credit: Peter James Millson

This year’s festival also seeks to blow away myths about libraries, with Simon Armitage leading the charge in his own Inspired by Libraries talk, in which he shares his love of writing, reading and libraries with audiences, to whom he will also be giving a poetry reading.

For more information and the full festival programme, head over to the Festival of Libraries website.

Featured image credit: Samantha Guess

Wed 7 Jun - Sun 11 Jun, Various Greater Manchester venues
Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Mon 5 Jun 2023