The Manchester festivals not to miss

Manchester may be best known for its football, but its festivals are certainly worth a trip up north 

Mancunians love a party and any excuse will do! Whether you’re into culture, art, music or food, there’s sure to be a festival to suit your tastes. Here are some of the best in the city.
Manchester Day – various venues – June 
The annual Manchester Day is a festival with an infectious sense of fun. Watch the famous parade –with its colourful floats, dancers and performers – wind its way through the heart of the city, while the neighbouring squares, parks and other public spaces become hives of fun and frolics. It’s the perfect day out for people of all ages, with food, drinks, family-friendly activities, competitions, magic shows and much more. Manchester Day has become much more than a little local event; it’s come to symbolise everything residents and tourists alike love about the city – its inclusiveness, diversity, community spirit and strength. 

Manchester Beer and Cider Festival – Manchester Central – January
You don’t have to wait until Oktoberfest to celebrate some of the world’s best brews. The Manchester Beer and Cider Festival promises to feature at least 750 different drinks, ranging from limited edition kegs to exotic bottles from all around the world. Meet local brewers, learn all about beer and take part in tastings run by renowned beer experts. The festival even invites some of the nation’s most beloved street food vendors to help you soak up all the booze. 

Manchester Jazz Festival – Albert Square – July
Whether you’re a long-time jazz fan or a sax newbie, the Manchester Jazz Festival is sure to get your toes tapping. Spread over nine days of summer, you can watch free gigs from both big name and up-and-coming local, national, European and international jazz artists, who head into town to perform at Albert Square and other venues. The concerts range from exclusive ticketed events at some of Manchester’s most beautiful venues to free gigs public spaces. 

Manchester Pride – Canal Street – August
Manchester Pride is one of the city’s biggest and most elaborate events. Celebrating Manchester’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture, Manchester Pride attracts thousands of tourists to the city’s gay village, Canal Street, every year in August. Over 10 days, everyone is invited to take part in community-wide events, concerts, film screenings, poetry readings and more, before concluding with a 72-hour crazy party called “The Big Weekend” on the August bank holiday. Make sure you line the streets to watch the Pride parade go past with people of all ages dressed in crazy costumes atop outrageous floats. After dark, the real party starts with clubs, discos and bars pumping out chart-topping hits until the early hours of the morning. 

Manchester Irish Festival – various venues – March 
Manchester goes green just in time for St Patrick’s Day with the annual Manchester Irish Festival, a two-week event filled with traditional Irish music, dance, literature, culture and costumes which culminates in the Paddy’s Day parade. There are Irish markets serving everything from colcannon to coddle, as well as charity events that you can take part in to raise funds for good causes. Listen to some enchanting bagpipes, dance an Irish jig and have a pint (or two) of Guinness right in the middle of Manchester!

PUSH Festival – HOME – January 
PUSH Festival is a two-week long cultural event based at HOME, the city’s renowned contemporary arts centre. The event showcases the most exciting happenings in the film, theatre and visual arts industries, with an emphasis on local Mancunian talent. Last year’s event saw over 30 different performances, screenings, panel discussions and exhibitions, with thousands of people purchasing tickets for just £1. PUSH isn’t just for show though, it’s also a key creative networking event, where aspiring artists can meet with established professionals to share ideas, brainstorm projects and get advice at pop-up workshops. Whether you prefer to watch or want to take part, PUSH has something for everyone. 

Manchester Film Festival – Odeon Printworks – March 
Movie buffs will want to time their trip to catch the Manchester Film Festival, now in its 4th year. Over four days, the nation’s top and up-and-coming talent travels to the north for exclusive premieres, screenings, meet-and-greets and red carpet events. Each year has a theme and features big-name stars on the line-up, as well as smaller competitions for rising talent, directors, actors and producers. Although it’s only been running for a few years, the Manchester Film Festival has already become quite a prestigious event and is well-recognised by industry heavyweights, even receiving a nomination in the 2017 UK Festival Awards. 

Parklife – Heaton Park – June
It wouldn’t be a Manchester must-do list without mentioning Parklife, the jewel in the city’s festival crown. The weekend-long music festival has welcomed world-famous headline acts such as Two Door Cinema Club, Frank Ocean, The Chemical Brothers, Major Lazer, Disclosure, Snoop Dogg and Rita Ora in the past, and each year keeps getting bigger and better than the one before. Tickets are always hard to come by and sell out in record time so make sure you have your credit card at the ready come the on-sale date. 

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