Manchester International Festival

Festival Square - launch night

This weekend marks the start of Manchester International Festival 2017 (MIF17). The biennial festival is a celebration of arts and culture, with events taking place all over the city. Manchester has a lot to offer at all times of year, but particularly during the festival.This years festival is 18 days and has events ranging from comedy acts, musical performances, debates and visual art.

The event launched this Thursday and I was fortunate enough to attend the opening event; ‘what is the city but its people’ followed by the opening party in ‘Festival square’.

What is the city but its people

The inaugural event at MIF17 was a celebration of everyday Mancunians. A 100m catwalk was set up in Piccadilly Gardens and paraded on by people that call the city home. It was a celebration of the city’s diversity. Old, young, rich, poor, all ethnicities and professions. It was all the more poignant after the terrorist attack on the city just last month. In fact the show celebrated those who had helped in the aftermath; hospital workers and the taxi firm that gave free rides that night were amongst those on stage.


At the end of the show, all the participants returned to the catwalk for a finale

As each person walked on stage their story was shown on the large screens. Some were trivial, some funny, others emotional. Overall though, I walked away feeling uplifted and proud to call Manchester home.

MIF17 1

MIF17 2

MIF17 Opening party – Festival Square

Later in the evening I headed to Albert Square which, for the duration of the festival, is ‘Festival Square’. Its filled with food tents, bars, a stage for live bands and theres a festival pavilion, hosting nightly DJ sets. There’s also a raised seating area, giving great views of the square below. An ideal hang out for the next few weeks.

Festival Square - launch night

Festival Square – launch night

The opening night – reserved primarily for those involved in the festival – saw the food outlets providing canopes, so we got a taste of each outlet on offer! Prosecco was also flowing throughout the night thanks to sponsors Selfridges. The food available throughout the festival includes:

  • Heathcote & Co
  • Hispi
  • Manjit’s Kitchen
  • Honest Crust

On the opening evening one of the offerings from Heathcote & Co was a pork terrine with pistachios and whisky soaked prune. I was unusually reluctant to try it, as I’m not a whisky fan, but it did not overpower and complimented the terrine well.

Heathcote and co

The food from Hispi and Manjit’s kitchen was equally as delicious, but I think the firm favourite on the night (as I expect will be for the remainder of the festival) was honest crust. Their pizzas, baked in a traditional wood fired oven, ooze authenticity and are packed with flavour.

Honest Crust

Honest Crust margarita pizza


Whilst everyone was mingling and enjoying the food, suddenly brass heavy jazz music erupted amongst the crowd. I later learned the band was Riot Jazz. They played amongst the crowd and circled round to the stage.

The energy from these guys was amazing and their music fantastic. The band is made up of trombones, trumpets, a sousaphone, drums and an MC. Its not the usual stuff I’d listen to, but for me thats what the festival is all about – expanding your horizons. I’ll have some new additions to my spotify playlists for this week 🙂

Riot Jazz

The video below gives a flavour of the up beat, happy vibe Riot Jazz bought to the square, whilst on the way to the stage.

The night rounded off with a DJ set from Dave Haslam in the Festival Pavilion – a great end to the evening!

A full timetable of events can be seen on the MIF website.

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