If the region’s events calendar wasn’t already exciting enough as it is all year round, summer and July brings with it everything from festivals, and family-friendly activities, to foodie feasts, immersive experiences, and so much more for everyone to be getting involved with.
And this week is another busy one, so once again, we’ve cherry-picked a few of the best bits for another edition of our ‘what’s on‘ guide.
Here’s our top picks.
Manchester International Festival 2023
Manchester City Centre
Monday 3 – Sunday 16 July
Manchester International Festival is back once again to break new creative ground and challenge perceptions.
Working with partners regionally and across the globe, MIF23’s expansive programme of original new work by artists from around the world will take place in venues and spaces throughout the city, as well as at the festival’s much-anticipated new home, the £210 million Factory International – which opens its doors for the first time in advance of its official opening in October.
Find out more about everything happening for MIF23 here.
Monday 3 – Saturday 29 July
A huge circus tent has been installed onto the roof of Depot Mayfield in Manchester, as the world-leading cabaret La Clique is in town.
The trailblazing show – which has had its stay in the city extended right through to 29 July – features the best circus and cabaret acts in the world.
Presented by live entertainment company Underbelly, La Clique is wowing audiences with its genre-defining cabaret show, and for its Manchester stint, performers will include tension strap artist LJ Marles, singer Chastity Belt, aerial contortion artist Miranda Menzies, comedy and stunt performer Sam Goodburn, and more.
Greater Manchester Fringe Festival is back for 2023.
The annual region-wide theatre festival is all about celebrating new and emerging talent, and it’s taking over the region for the whole month of July once again this month.
First taking place back in 2012 with six different venues and a handful of shows in each, the Greater Manchester Fringe has since grown each year with more performances, more ticket sales, and more venues taking part, and many past productions have even moved onto established theatres or recognised at the Manchester Theatre Awards.
Tickets are now on sale, and some shows are even free to attend, so you can find more information and grab yours here.
The Coronation Street Experience
Monday 3 July – onwards
A brand-new Coronation Street Experience has opened, and it’s giving fans access to areas they previously haven’t been able to before.
The Coronation Street Tour is known for giving people the chance to discover the hidden world that lies behind the camera at the external sets at MediaCityUK in Salford, and now, the already award-winning experience has got even better as the new exhibition extends the current 90-minute tour and makes it even more “immersive” for fans.
You’ll get the opportunity to see Dierdre’s famous glasses up close, take a seat in Roy’s Rolls, or even stand behind the bar at The Rovers.
Chester Zoo has brought its popular ‘after hours’ events back this summer.
Giving visitors the chance to explore the UK’s biggest charity zoo “like never before”, the Into The Night series was launched to massive success in 2022, and offered unlimited access to animal habitats, indoor areas, and restaurants after hours for the first time ever.
And this summer, it’s back for animal lovers who missed out.
With tickets now on sale from as little as £10, Chester Zoo is inviting people to discover the zoo as the sun goes down with thrilling live entertainment, special guest appearances, and delicious food and drink.
Sounds of the City 2023 is well and truly underway.
After having established itself as a staple part of the Manchester music scene, with some of the most acclaimed live artists taking to the stage over the years, the festival is back and has taken over Castlefield Bowl once again for a series of headline concerts.
This week, we’ve got massive shows set to come from Sheffield Britpop band Pulp, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier, Stockport indie rock band Blossoms, the iconic Hacienda Classical, much-loved pop band Bastille, and Northern Irish indie heroes Two Door Cinema Club.
Plant NOMA’s ‘Evening Gardening Club’ aims to offer a comfortable, relaxed, and fun environment for people of all ages to come together on a weekly basis and engage with gardening in some way, shape or form.
This might be poking seeds into compost, sprinkling gravel between plants, or pruning old wood from within a tree, as the range of activity in the club changes as the seasons move and the gardens evolve.
Taking place every Tuesday from 6pm to 8pm, for “as long as it’s light enough to do so”, it’s said to be a perfect way to unwind after work, pick up some tips, and connect with nature.
Titanic: The Musical is stopping off at The Lowry this week as part of its 10th anniversary UK tour.
Based on real people aboard the most legendary ship in the world, the award-winning production is described as being a “stunning and stirring production” focusing on the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of her passengers who each boarded the ship with stories and personal ambitions of their own.
All innocently unaware of the fate awaiting them, the third class immigrants dream of a better life in America, the second class imagine they too can join the lifestyles of the rich and famous, whilst the millionaire Barons of the first class anticipate legacies lasting forever.
Backyard Cinema is back in Manchester for the summer, and it’s creating a Miami Beach rooftop experience that will transport people back to the 1980s.
The immersive cinema experience – which debuted in the city centre last autumn – is going to be taking over the roof of Depot Mayfield once again from this week – but this time round, the industrial space will be transformed into Miami Beach, using 30 tonnes of sand and signature palm tree cocktails to create the UK’s largest pop-up beach.
The summer-long series will include cinematic parties and screenings of major summer blockbusters, plus sing-alongs and loads more, all with sand between your toes and ultra-comfy seats.
A gigantic new music, food, and drink venue is opening in a former Manchester factory this week.
Called Diecast, it comes from the team behind popular Swan Street venues Ramona and The Firehouse, and will officially launch behind Manchester Piccadilly train station this Thursday – kicking off with a grand opening as part of the venue’s first phase, ‘The MachineWorks’ AKA ‘Leno Ex Machina’, which has been unveiled after two years of intense anticipation.
Diecast will boast one of the biggest frozen drinks menus in the city, as well as a massive warehouse kitchen serving up pizzas, zesty Italian small plates, wood fired piadino, and Leno burgers.
Manchester Rum Festival is back and it’s set to be the “biggest and best” year yet.
Known for bringing a massive selection of rare rums from all over the world to Manchester each year, the beloved festival is back this weekend and transforming the Mercure Manchester hotel into the tropics.
Visitors will get to sample some of the best rum brands and buy bottles of their favourites to take home, as well as taste some limited-edition drink collaborations, tuck into delicious Caribbean street food from some of the region‘s best traders, and so much more
The Alternative Indie Wedding Fair is back in Manchester again this weekend.
Hosted by ALT Events Co, The Alternative Indie Wedding Fair will see over 20 independent alternative vendors take over Platt Fields Market Garden in Fallowfield, making it the perfect place to get a feel of how you want your special day to be, all while being budget-friendly.
Chatting with DJ Fabio ahead of ‘A History of Jungle, Drum and Bass’ with Grooverider and The Outlook Orchestra
Ahead of their upcoming tour next year, we got the chance to one-half of legendary DJing duo, Fabio and Grooverider, who’ll be coming to Manchester early next year.
‘The Godfathers of Drum and Bass’ were there at the very start of it all and have been able to see how the genre, along with offshoots like jungle, has evolved over the years — so it’s only right that they be the ones to deliver a real education to ravers and newcomers this January.
Bringing their ‘History of Jungle and Drum & Bass’ to the Manchester Academy on Saturday, 13 January, 0161 is just one of three places that have been chosen for the limited run of shows and, as Fabio told us on the call, it because this city has a rich relationship with the genre and pioneering underground music in general.
So you’ve got the tour starting in the New Year and it’s a very limited run of shows — what can you tell us about what you’ve got in store?
What we’ve got in store is the best of live drum and bass and something very unique thing. It’s a great show and honestly, even if I wasn’t involved in this I’d go along and definitely enjoy it.
It’s everything that we expected and with a project like this, it’s not something that’s not really been done before, especially not with an orchestra of this size, anyway.
We want it to sound authentic and that’s what’s happened with the band; The [Outlook] Orchestra’s amazing, the musicians are great and it’s a very entertaining two hours.
How have you found building this as a full production with the Orchestra and fine-tuning everyone’s performances on stage?
Well, over the course of our careers in general, it’s just got a lot tighter and we’ve all got a lot more confident. You’ve got to remember when this all started we’d never done anything like it before, you know — we’re DJs and we were on BBC Radio 1 for 14 years and then Kiss for seven.
Public speaking is a completely different thing than speaking in front of a mic, so that was really daunting at first, I’ve got to say; the first one we did I was really nervous and we still get that sense of anticipation, but where it was a bit around the edge at the start, the audience didn’t know that and now I’d say it’s almost 100% the way we want it.
We’ve been doing it two years now and, yeah, it’s just a process of tweaking those fine margins and getting your timings right — when you’ve got 40 musicians, even if you’re a millisecond off it can kind of throw everything.
Sounds like you’ve really nailed it. The idea of a ‘History of Jungle and Drum & Bass’ — how far back are you going into the genre and how do you think it’s changed over the years?
So we go back to 1992. It’s crazy for us to think that was 31 years ago, but yeah, we’re going right back to the beginning and we literally break up the set into years: ’92-93, 94-96 and so on into the 2000s.
I think it has changed over time and you can certainly hear it when you compare the likes of the first track we do, Johnny L’s ‘Hurt You So’, which is kind of like jungle techno, to the modern-day stuff which gets on the radio now, it’s different. But that’s the great thing about both genres, they move on real quick.
Say if you’re a drum and bass head now and took a year off and then came back, you’d be like, ‘What is this?’ but drum and bass is always like that, every single year.
It’s going through a great time at the moment, probably the best in three decades. It’s bigger now than I think that it’s ever been and I think it’s because it’s been accepted by the public get it; they understand it more and it’s less of a niche.
People have always known about house music but now people actually recognise the big names like Chase and Status, Pendulum and so on. It’s in a very healthy place and I know some of the real purists are a little bit p*ssed and feel it’s gone a bit commercial but the underground scene is still there and I don’t think that will ever die.
Yeah, and I suppose that’s what the beauty of events like these is you can play to both of those crowds. Do you find the audience has that mix?
Well, that’s why we’ve tried to get that fine balance between big tunes that your everyday, casual listener will recognise as well as keep some underground stuff in so the real ‘heads’ can come and dive into it.
It’s been very deliberate and we’ve sat down to really think about how to strike that combination and it’s another thing that’s been done really well.
And, obviously, you guys are London kings but how big a role do you think Manchester has played in the scene and how it’s progressed?
Oh man, it’s always been really important. Going back to A Guy Called Gerald who was one of the first truly big English producers, when people listened to ‘Voodoo Ray’, even the Americans thought was a guy from New York and he’s a bit of an unsung hero really.
He made some of the first jungle tunes as well, so we’ve always felt the influence and link with Manchester, especially over the last 10 to 15 years when it’s been really, really strong here.
You know, you’ve got DRS and, of course, had Marcus Intellect, God bless his soul, who always flew the flag for Manchester, you know what I’m saying? And, um, you know, there’s a really healthy, uh, seed in Manchester.
Strategy, Dogger, Mindstate: a lot of those guys are very important to drum and Bass and a lot of them grew up knowing each other as well, which is cool. We’ve also got Jenna G in the show and not only is she from Manchester but she’s one of the real highlights of the show, she’s absolutely amazing.
Also, it’s really important that we put on a good show because the Manchester crowd know their sh*t as well — you can’t really con them.
Absolutely, and in terms of artists right now, whether they’re from Manchester or elsewhere, who’s really exciting you at the minute?
I mean, the staple is obviously Chase and Status who have helped get [the genre] some radio play to the point where there were four drum and bass tracks in the top 40 just last year. Absolutely insane.
Hedex and all those guys are also helping grow the underground scene but, honestly, there’s too many names to mention that lifting up others so we’re in a real good spot at the minute.
Are there any favourite Manchester venues that come to mind?
Band on the Wall — I LOVE it in there and, of course, Warehouse Project which is basically flying the flag for drum and bass across Britain right now. It’s possibly the hottest venue in the UK so, yeah, Manchester was always a no-brainer and we’re really looking forward to coming there.
Nice, and lastly, if you could describe the upcoming shows in three words what would they be?
Featured Images — Supplied/@matthiggs (via Instagram)
The best Christmas light trails in Greater Manchester and beyond
Greater Manchester has been invaded, with so many light trails taking place this year it feels like you’ve been swarmed by fireflies.
There are light trails in parks, light trails in the city, light trails in zoos and light trails in gardens.
There’s a style to suit every taste too, whether you’re into a colourful, nostalgic Christmas, or ultra-tasteful festivities that take your breath away.
There’s even a light trail that will hit the brief if you’re particularly interested in blending winter light trails with disco music…
So we’ve travelled the length and breadth of the north west to pick out the best light trails that are worth your time and money this Christmas.
Know of one we’ve missed? Reach out to us through our socials.
Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester
A brand new festive light trail has opened in Manchester this winter, filling Heaton Park with glowing orbs, neon trees, and fairylit tunnels.
The spectacular new festive event loops around the park’s lake, where installations on the water include colourful ships and light beams.
And down in the woods you’ll find a laser garden, a flurry of bubbles, larger-than-life glowing flowers, and twinkling pink trees.
You can stop off at a festive teepee for a mulled wine, toast your marshmallows on an open fire, and whizz around the fairground rides at the end too. Did we mention the whole trail is dog-friendly, too?
Adult standard tickets £18 | Running until 31 December | Tickets here
Manchester’s newest city centre park, Mayfield Park, has been transformed into a festive ‘Twilight Trail’ for the first time ever this Christmas.
This brand-new immersive experience is made up of several spectacular light displays, unique lantern installations, and a captivation sound-scape dotted around the pristine new park – with each circuit estimated to take around half an hour.
And at the end you can dive into Winter Island, Freight Island’s Christmas season, and grab yourself some food and drink, from a build-your-own boozy hot chocolate bar from Cocoa Cabana, to the Smoking Coal German BBQ, serving a whole bratwurst menu, Schweinshaxe in a bun, and a classic hog roast butty.
Adult tickets £10 | Running until 31 December | Tickets here
The Twilight Trail is now open, and running right through until the new year, and you can find out more and grab tickets here.
Put Big Light On Bolton, Bolton
Easily the light trail with the best name in Greater Manchester is Put Big Light On Bolton, which has a range of light installations installed in the town centre.
There’s everything from a giant moon by Luke Jerram to a Dan Archer creation that brings the Northern Lights to our hometown.
There are special events taking place around the light festival too – but most of it wraps up this weekend, so you’ll have to move fast.
The completely free Lightwaves Festival is back at Salford Quays this week for its 10th instalment, this time with 15 artworks – three of which are brand new commissions.
Highlights include a luminescent artwork in the shape of a six-metre-long whale shark, complete with transparent fish scales, and a tunnel of giant mirrored rings across the piazza that people can walk through.
Then there are giant glowing flowers and a fire garden you can roam around too.
7-10 December | Free, no tickets needed
Castlefield Viaduct, Manchester city centre
Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester, the lush National Trust site built up on a disused railway viaduct, is inviting visitors to see the urban green space by nightfall.
There’ll be a free Lantern Lates series where the park will transform into a ‘magical, sparkling grotto’.
Visitors can climb up to Castlefield Viaduct , the huge industrial landmark that has views right across Manchester city centre, and savour the winter wonderland created for the coming season.
It’s before the National Trust project closes for a few weeks in the new year for work to refresh the gardens for spring and summer.
A brand-new immersive experience has opened at Chester Zoo for the festive season this week.
Lanterns and Light gives visitors the chance to explore captivating light installations and be transported into enchanting lands filled with colour and festivity, all while meeting orangutans, lions, dolphins, and woolly mammoths as they make their way along the trail.
There’s also colour changing displays stretching as far as the eye can see, birds and stars adorning the zoo’s winding paths and trees, and a spectacular Winter Cathedral tunnel of lights.
Until 31 December | Adult tickets £22 | Buy tickets here.