Manchester Jazz Festival returns to the city this weekend

A free weekender at Escape To Freight Island, a piano trail, gigs in a church and a special geodesic dome performance at Manchester Piccadilly

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 18th May 2022

Manchester Jazz Festival (mjf) returns to the city for 10 days this May, and it’s not to be missed.

The city’s longest-running music festival, it’s completely unlike anything else in Manchester – featuring a jam-packed lineup showcasing some of the best names in UK contemporary jazz as well as up-and-coming talent from across the north of England.

Taking place from 20-29 May, the festival opens this weekend with a free weekender at Escape To Freight Island, followed by ticketed weekday gigs across the city.

Free performances will also take place in Piccadilly Station and Barbirolli Square this year as part of new work commissioned through the festival’s mjf Originals scheme.

Elsewhere, budding pianists are being encouraged to take part in the mjf piano trial, which sees thirteen pianos placed across Manchester city centre, courtesy of Forsyth’s Music.


As part of the new piano trail, pianists of all skill levels are being encouraged to share their performances for a chance to win some top prizes – including their very own piano.

Rum Buffalo will be performing at Manchester Jazz festival 2022. / Image: mjf

Read more: 13 pianos have been placed across Manchester for the public to play – and win prizes


From 20-29 May, mjf2022 will see gigs taking place from the likes of Nubya Garcia, Secret Night Gang, Tim Garland, Anthony Joseph, Zoe Rahman, Rum Buffalo, and Daniel Casimir.

Festival-goers can also check out weekday gigs at St Ann’s Church, The Yard, Matt & Phreds and Forsyth Music, before the festival closes with an extended weekend-long party at Band on the Wall.

Speaking on the upcoming festival, Steve Mead, mjf CEO and Artistic Director, said: “As well as taking audiences on a journey across Manchester’s iconic venues, we’re bringing you an exceptional array of jazz sounds by the very best players, and some new music encounters that you’ll be able to experience for free across the city centre.

“We can’t wait for you to join us.”


2022 Manchester Jazz Festival highlights

Escape To Freight Island will play host to a free opening weekend to launch the Manchester Jazz Festival. / Image: Escape To Freight Island

Escape to Freight Island, 20-22 May

Escape to Freight Island will play host to the festival for a free opening weekender featuring performances from Secret Night Gang, Daniel Casimir, Xhosa Cole Quartet, Intergalactic Brasstronauts, Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat, Dirty Freud, Jasmine Myra, Dilettante, Sarah Heneghan: Power Out, Kara, Nguvu, The Deportees, Abbie Finn Trio, Timeline, Ain’t Misbehaving’. There will also be family-friendly activities and DJs playing all weekend.

The Yard, presented in association with NQ Jazz, 23-25 May

Anthony Joseph, Emma Rawicz Quintet, Alex Hitchcock’s Dream Band will play at The Yard over three dates this May.

St Ann’s Church, 23-27 May

Zoe Rahman, Skylla, Brigitte Beraha’s Lucid Dreamers, Sara Colman & Rebecca Nash will all perform at St Ann’s Church as part of the festival.

Matt and Phreds, 20-29 May

Jeremy Sassoon Quartet, Heavy Beat Brass Band, Alligator Gumbo, Honey Bee Jazz, Rum
Buffalo, Baiana, Nonunonu, Shapeshifters will perform at Northern Quarter jazz bar Matt and Phreds as part of a collaborative Open Jam night with mjf.

Band on the Wall, 26-29 May

Nubya Garcia, Mulatu Astatke, Tim Garland Group, Gary Crosby Sextet: Mingus Moves,
Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club, Ayanna Witter Johnson, Hackney Colliery Band will take over Band on the Wall as part of the festival this month.

Forsyth Music, 27 May

The Ronnie Scott’s Trio featuring James Pearson – Remembering Oscar Peterson: A portrait
of a jazz legend.

Lara Jones will stage her new work Ensō in a specially constructed geodesic dome in Manchester Piccadilly station. / Image: mjf

mjf originals performances at Piccadilly Station, May 19 – 22

Sax player and electronic musician Lara Jones will stage her new work Ensō in a specially constructed geodesic dome in Manchester Piccadilly station. Audiences can enjoy free performances of the immersive, cinematic audio-visual experience based on Lara’s field recordings of train journeys to loved ones.

Ruby Tingle will present Fountainia, a new piece inspired by Manchester’s unique relationship with water, at Barbiriolli Square. / Image: Manchester Jazz Festival

Barbirolli Square, May 27 and 28

Audiovisual artist and performer Ruby Tingle will present Fountainia, her new music inspired by Manchester’s unique relationship with water, particularly its public water features. The free evening performances will take place in Barbirolli Square next to the Bridgewater Hall.


mjf piano trail, May 18-29

The mjf and Forsyth’s music shop are on the hunt for Manchester’s most entertaining street
pianist as a trail of 13 street pianos are placed across the city. There’s a whole raft of prizes up for grabs, including a Yamaha P-45B piano, a return ticket for 4 anywhere on the Northern Rail Network, a gift package and vouchers worth over £100 from Quayside Media City UK and a £30 Wagamama voucher for each prize winner.

Read more:

Tim Garland. /. Image: MJF

How to get tickets

MJF 2022 will take place from May 20-29 in venues across Manchester city centre.

Tickets for the Manchester Jazz Festival are available now at