Countdown to MIF: Our top picks


With less than six weeks to go until MIF we’ve pulled together a few of our favourite events from this year’s programme, from music events and theatre to street dance and spoken word. Be sure to check out the full lineup over on the MIF website, there’s so much to experience during the 18 days of the festival, including the lively takeover of Albert Square as Festival Square - the social hub of MIF for the duration of the event. Bruntwood is proud to once again support MIF as a cultural partner, find out more about this here.


Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s electrifying new blend of drama, music and dance follows one man’s journey into the heart and soul of contemporary South Africa – with the audience at the centre of the action. Directed by Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of London’s Young Vic, with music inspired by Elba’s album Mi Mandela, Tree is an exhilarating show about identity, family and belonging, seen through the eyes of one man on the toughest journey of his life.

Bells for Peace

Yoko Ono invites the people of Manchester to gather together in Cathedral Gardens and send a message of peace to the world. Join thousands of diverse voices and a people’s orchestra of bells from home and abroad as the city rings and sings out for peace – and welcomes the world to Manchester. In the run-up to the event, a series of special workshops also give the people of Greater Manchester the chance to design and create their own unique ceramic bell to ring out at the orchestra.


This collaboration with New York dancer-choreographer, Reggie Gray brings both transatlantic street dance and vital poetry from some of Britain’s most exciting voices to the city. This promises to be an energetic and unique performance. Why we love this? Alphabus sees spoken word from Young Identity, a Moss Side-based initiative who ‘believe in the transformative power of the arts in young peoples’ lives’. They deliver dynamic poetry and spoken word workshops for disadvantaged and under-represented young people and want accessibility across the arts.

Animals of Manchester

What if animals lived alongside us, not just as pets, but as peers? Animals of Manchester will create a university where dogs do the teaching, an edible Arndale Centre for squirrels and birds, and a film studio run by beetles. Join them on a family-friendly trail through Whitworth Art Gallery and parkland for a fascinating cultural experiment on the final weekend of the festival.

Atmospheric Memory

Staged in an extraordinary custom-built structure next to the Science and Industry Museum’s 1830 Warehouse, this breathtaking immersive installation features an array of ‘Atmospheric Machines’ that mine the air for turbulence caused by speech, then transform it into something we can see, hear and even touch: trails of vapour, ripples on water, epic 360-degree projections. Atmospheric Memory is developed by award-winning Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer who states it as his ‘most ambitious project ever’.


The Mercury Prize winner and BRIT Award nominee, Skepta is one of the most significant British artists in music today and he invites you to enter another world in this series of intimate and immersive experiences. Held in a secret Manchester location, featuring a live set from Skepta, guest appearances from hand-picked performers and DJs, and a wealth of new technology. This is show will be a dystopian rave merging theatre and grime.

The Anvil: ANU

ANU, one of Europe’s most daring theatre companies, is taking to the streets for a day-long series of immersive performances, all completely free. Inspired by the lives and stories of those who died at Peterloo, the company is collaborating with people from all over Greater Manchester to explore what Peterloo meant then and what it means today – reflecting on the events of 1819 while forging a vital new connection with our 21st-century city

School of Integration

Local people originally from countries around the world will give free classes on a curriculum that includes languages, culture, ethics, politics, economics and many other forms of knowledge. These are not only instructional lessons, but something more personal and vivid. Every teacher will pass on his or her own experiences to anyone interested in developing new skills – resulting in a new kind of shared learning experience. All the School of Integration events will be free.

The Nico Project

From her 1967 debut with The Velvet Underground to her premature death just two decades later, Nico was one of pop culture’s most enigmatic figures. Now, Maxine Peake (performer) and Sarah Frankcom (director) are conjuring this visionary artist up from the shadows with a stirring theatrical immersion into her sound, her identity and the world in which she fought to be heard. Known for her work with The Velvet Underground, Nico has a connection with the city of Manchester after moving here for the final eight years of her life, spending time in the notorious slums of Hulme Crescents and living in Prestwich.

Janelle Monáe

An exclusive show on the opening night of MIF19. A singular and spectacular live performer, Monáe received massive acclaim in 2018 for Dirty Computer, which reached the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and was named NPR’s Album of the Year. The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, producer, actress (Moonlight, Hidden Figures) and activist is playing just two UK dates in 2019.




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