An enormous new festival-style outdoor venue opens its doors on First Street in Manchester today, Friday 28th May.
Bringing the likes of Russell Howard down to perform live at its open-air theatre, as well as running a special ‘Manchester’ stage showcasing live performances from some of the city’s finest musical and comedy talents, this is definitely one to put on your list.
Curated by local theatre, film and arts centre HOME, Homeground has taken over a previously disused patch of land that’s three times the size of Albert Square.
Empty no more, it’s now home to three huge arenas: a 400-seat Cabinet of Curiosities-themed theatre space called Showground, a 1,100 capacity food and drink terrace, and a Bruntwood Stage hosting live performances from some of Manchester’s hottest local talents.
Entry Is free and you won’t need a ticket – with the exception of the theatre shows at Showground, which people are being encouraged to book in advance for.
Dotted around the site are 11 classic Manchester signs riffing off iconic places in the city, from the Arndale and Dutch Pancake House to Withy Grove Stores and Hulme Hippodrome.
Elsewhere, old Metrolink bus stop signs demarcate the outdoor picnic tables – so if you’re meeting your friends and need a landmark, you can say “meet me at the 192.”
The Food & Drink Terrace
Street food and drink vendors setting up shop at the site for the summer include vegan eatery Vertigo, wine connoisseurs Cork of the North, Wolf at the Door, Tampopo, Bean and Bubble, Triple B Bagels, and HOME’s own chefs cooking up a selection of pizzas and fried chicken.
On top of all this, there’s. a fun cocktail bar and a Budvar truck selling super-fresh czech beers on tap.
The Bruntwood Stage
The Bruntwood stage, which will host music and other live performances throughout the summer, is flanked with two giant tiffany lamps borrowed from Blackpool Illuminations.
And more retro pieces from the Blackpool Illuminations collection are spread around the site – as are pieces of work from local artist David Bailey.
All entertainment here is completely free, with a programme spanning comedy, live music, DJ sets and more over the next four months.
Original Hacienda resident DJ Paulette has curated a ‘tea party’ of 50 different DJ’s to carry sets across the summer, including the likes of Clint Boon, Katbrownsugar, Hattie Pearson, Jamie Groovement and Werkha.
There are also some takeovers on the cards here from the likes of Manchester Camerata, RNCM, and Manchester Jazz Festival, plus appearances from Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, New Order’s Stephen Morris, Contact Theatre, and Bourgeois and Morris.
HOME has also collaborated with local favourites like Frog & Bucket, Contact theatre, and Trans Creative to contribute to their theatre programme at Showground. These will complement bigger performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Alice In Wonderland, with a special vogueing performance expected from Manchester’s own Contact theatre.
All events at the venue’s huge socially distanced theatre Showground will be ticketed. These can be bought in advance or at the door, with tables seating up to six people together in line with government guidance.
If that wasn’t enough, Homeground’s also got a few surprises up their sleeves for later this year – including a fourth arena space in which they hope to host some q&as and family events.
Hosting just the second ‘Raise the Roof’ fundraising concert in over three years – the pandemic having put a pause on the initiative – the money generated will go towards providing a safe place to sleep to thousands in around the Manchester area.
The Middleton-born musician confirmed the date on Tuesday.
While Fray is currently the only name confirmed to be playing this year’s gig, his popularity in the city alone is sure to drive thousands to iconic Manchester venue for this great cause.
Most importantly, not only will all ticket sales go towards the A Bed Every Night drive, but so too will the proceeds from the re-release of the band’s debut album, St Jude, dropping on the same day as the gig.
The Mayor’s Charity has held a number of hugely successful campaigns already this year, including their annual 24 Run Against Homelessness as well as Mayor Andy Burnham‘s second night DJing at the one and only Warehouse Project.
Speaking in an official press release, Burnham spoke about the spoke about “the power of music to get people together and raise vital funds” for causes like combatting homelessness.
He went on to say that despite all the money already raised this year, “there’s more still to do and we know the cost of living crisis has started to impact on people’s housing”, adding: “We’re a musical city, so what better way to help those who need it but with a night with the incredible Liam Fray.”
Responding to Burnham’s thanks on Twitter, Fray had a simple message:
Over 4,000 unique individuals have been supported by A Bed Every Night since 2019, with more than 600 people now supplied with accommodation across the region who would otherwise be at risk of sleeping rough.
The Mayor’s campaign works with 21 different organisations across Greater Manchester helping provide a safe place to sleep to the homeless and those in needs on a regular basis. Wonderful stuff.
How to help in Manchester if you see someone homeless in the freezing cold
Whilst much has been done over the past few years to improve options for people who find themselves homeless in Greater Manchester, it’s still a huge problem – felt especially hard when the temperature drops.
The Met Office has forecast lows of -3 that will last across the weekend into early next week, whilst health officials have told people to put their heating on, despite rising costs. But some don’t even have the option to do that.
In the UK last year, 1,286 people died while homeless according to the Museum of Homelessness (MoH) Dying Homeless Project.
As a general rule, there are no legal protections for people sleeping rough in England. Most councils offer extra beds when temperatures are forecast to drop below 0ºC for three consecutive nights.
Fortunately here in Manchester, there is more support at hand.
What support does Manchester offer homeless people in freezing weather?
Manchester is the first major metropolitan area in the country to promise help as soon as the temperature drops below 0ºC.
Shelters are opened up in and around the city centre as soon as one night of freezing temperatures is forecast, and stay open until temperatures rise back up above zero, giving everyone a warm place to rest.
Accommodation varies from hostel ‘sit up’ spaces to an emergency shelter run by local charity Coffee4Craig for the council, where people are provided with sleeping bags, mats, armchairs and even a TV. And when space runs out in the hostels, people are given a hotel room for the night.
There is also the Mayor’s flagship A Bed Every Night scheme, which looks to offer a bed, hot meal and support for anyone sleeping rough in Greater Manchester at any time of year – regardless of the weather.
What can I do to help someone?
If you’re concerned about someone, you can contact your local authority via one of the numbers below.
Alternatively, you can use this tool to view the services on offer in your area.