Manchester International Festival 2013, 4th - 21st July, various venues

Returning for its fourth year this summer, the Biennial Manchester International Festival is a vast cultural takeover that brings exclusive and original works to the city from some of the world’s best artists.

Running from the 4th – 21st July, the festival will use Manchester’s dark recesses, intimate spaces and more renowned venues to launch a series of works that mark out another milestone on the city’s cultural history. Around the city MIF has always created a cosmopolitan effervescence, in which even if you’re not headed to a show means you can still enjoy the lively hubbub that this unique event creates.

Food and Drink at Festival Square

The epicentre of all this will be Festival Square, as MIF takes over Albert Square to create a place to relax, socialise, watch, enjoy and plan your festival experience. There’ll be food by Heathcoates, ranging from home-made pork pies and deli-platters to daily specials from the griddle. Also this year Richard Johnson of British Street Food has hand-picked 12 award-winning UK street traders to offer up their bespoke foodstuffs, including tasty Whitby seafood from Greedy Bassett, ice-cream for grown-ups from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium and authentic Asian street food from Hungry Gecko.

Manchester International Festival Pavilion

Albert Square will form the hub of the festival, with pop-up bars, street food and live events 

If a quick tipples more your thing, you can sample locally-brewed Thwaites cask ales and the special MIF Festival Ale from the Festival Square’s three bars as you soak up the Festival Square atmosphere lounging on one of the deck chairs they provide. Check out our guide to the best Albert Square bars in which you can continue your evening after an afternoon in Festival Square. 

Event Highlights

After evening drinks around the Northern Quarter bars and restaurants, you can head down to the Mayfield Depot behind Piccadilly Station to see renowned futurist and general professor of mind-bending theoretical thinkery Adam Curtis team up with Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack. They’ll be using the city’s dark expanses to redefine what a ‘gig’ can be in what will be the first performance by the band in the UK since 2010.

Following on from Manchester’s recent resurgence of secret venues and blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em pop up bars, across 18 performances The XX will be playing in a specially designed 60-capacity room whose location will be revealed to ticket holders just before the shows. Where they’ll be playing is anyone’s guess, but what’s for sure is that the shows will offer a chance to see the band play out their moody atmospherics on a level of intimacy that hasn’t been available since their first forays onto the stage.

The XX

The xx are just one of the bands bringing unique live music shows to Manchester International Festival

From 5 - 20 July, master of tragedy and all round Shakespearean stalwart Kenneth Branagh will return to the stage to play Macbeth, his first Shakespeare performance for more than a decade. Directed by Rob Ashford and Branagh himself, the tragic tale of ambition and treachery unfolds within the walls of an intimate deconsecrated Manchester church.

The Pavilion Theatre at Festival Square will also play host to a range of free gigs, discussions, comedy nights and DJ sets as well as paid events as part of the MIF13 programme, including Manchester’s M.O.N.E.Y debuting their first album in full, Delphic reworking their own collection and an A-Z of Manchester’s musical dynasty as curated by Rob Da Bank