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Manchester International Festival returns: Diverse Programme, Big Acts from music to art Janelle Monáe returns, Shilpa Gupta, Yayoi Kusama and local talent Afrodeutsche and Jenn Nkiru, Benji Reid, FAFSWAG and more

Manchester International Festival returns: Diverse Programme, Big Acts from music to art Janelle Monáe returns, Shilpa Gupta, Yayoi Kusama and local talent Afrodeutsche and Jenn Nkiru, Benji Reid, FAFSWAG and more

Factory International announce the 2023 edition of Manchester International Festival (MIF) from 29 June to 16 July. Working with partners regionally and across the globe, the wide-ranging programme of original new work by artists from around the world will take place in venues and spaces throughout the city and at Factory International’s much-anticipated new home, which opens its doors for the first time for the Festival, in advance of its official opening in October. 

The Grammy-award winning Angélique Kidjo (4 July)

From a collaboration exploring art and the beautiful game by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and footballer Juan Mata, featuring new work by Tino Sehgal, to a mixed reality concert by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, from a live photographic performance by Benji Reid to a musical adaptation of a cult queer classic by Philip Venables and Ted Huffman, the expansive programme of new work premiering at the Festival will see artforms merge, breaking new creative ground and challenging perceptions.

Yayoi Kusama © YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner.

A major exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable sculptures will form a centrepiece of the Festival, the first work to be presented at Factory International’s flagship new venue. You, Me and the Balloons will take over the vast warehouse space, inviting audiences to take an exhilarating journey through Kusama’s psychedelic creations.

FAFSWAG established in 2013 as an informal Queer art collective from south Auckland

Rooted in Manchester, events will also take place in spaces and places across the city – including a city-wide quest for collectible coin artworks by Ryan Gander, a celebration of our connection to water on the banks of the River Medlock by Risham Syed and Angie Bual, anda chilling adaptation of a lost dystopian masterpiece in the depths of the John Rylands library by Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom and Imogen Knight. 


Manchester’s much-loved Festival Square relocates to the building’s outdoor spaces with free live music from over 100 performers, and a wide variety of food and drink, creating a new riverside destination for Manchester.

Other highlights include a diverse programme of music, headlined by a three-day residency from

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe, includingperformances from Angélique Kidjo, Alison Goldfrapp, and revered Sufi singer Sanam Marvi; the premiere of a new show from John Grant and the Richard Hawley band celebrating pop and country legend Patsy Cline; a world premiere by John Luther Adams inspired by arctic landscapes performed by the BBC

A diverse programme of music is headlined by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe (30 June – 2 July),

Philharmonic; and a night of dance and music from dance company L-E-V curated by record label Young.

Building on the significant digital presence the Festival has pioneered since 2017, MIF23 will also feature a broad online offer including livestreams and behind-the-scenes broadcasts, plus the world premiere of a new film by artist and director Jenn Nkiru, and a programme of talks from Guardian Live that will take place in person and online – full details to be announced.

Mumbai based artist Shilpa Gupta

Greater Manchester residents are once again at the heart of MIF23, from performing on Festival Square, to volunteering in an array of roles across the Festival. Many of the works reflect on the personal experiences of the city’s diverse communities, from youth led performances, and exhibitions surrounding mental health as part of Balmy Army to a futuristic and interactive journey through Manchester by Blast Theory and Manchester Street Poem led by those most marginalised in the city.  

Alongside the artists presenting new work at MIF23, a group of international artists will take up residency in communities in Greater Manchester to soak up the Festival and plan projects for the future, including El Conde de Torrefiel, The Nest Collective, Shilpa Gupta and FAFSWAG.

Find Your Eyes; Benji Reid

Reflecting its commitment to developing the next generation of creative talent, MIF23 will see artists from all stages of their careers given platforms to develop and learn during the festival. Six artists from the North will shadow the creation of MIF23 projects through the Factory Creative Fellowships, and ten creatives involved in Manchester’s music scene will be offered financial support towards the creation of a new project and the opportunity to perform on Festival Square as part of the recently launched Factory Sounds.

Working with partners across the globe, once again much of the work made in Manchester for MIF23 will go on to travel internationally, building on an audience to date of over 1.6 million people in more than 30 countries who have experienced MIF’s work overseas.

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Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Factory International & Manchester International Festival John McGrath says: “From the radical and agenda setting to the purest of celebrations, MIF23’s programme covers a huge range of art forms and styles – from a ritual on the banks of a newly uncovered river, to mixed reality from one of Japan’s greatest composers, from a hunt for artworks across the city to a residency from one of American music’s most vibrant superstars. A genuine melting pot of creativity where artists share their ideas with each other and the public, the Festival will once again take the temperature of our times, and imagine possibilities for the future.

As always MIF is rooted in its home – in the spaces and places of Greater Manchester. So at the same time as we take up residency in our flagship new venue with our centrepiece exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s incredible inflatable sculptures, the Festival will extend its reach throughout the city: finding unexpected locations to show its work in, and working with local artists and residents to perform and take part. MIF23 will be a true celebration of the city and its cultural offerings.”

MIF23 provides the first opportunity for audiences to experience Factory International’s new venue, ahead of its official opening in October. Designed by Ellen van Loon, OMA Partner and lead architect, the ultra-flexible building is based around vast, adaptable spaces that can be constantly reconfigured, enabling artists to develop and create large-scale work of invention and ambition, of a kind not seen anywhere else in the world. It is the largest new national cultural project since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000, and is made possible thanks to initial HM Government investment and backing from Manchester City Council and Arts Council England.

Tickets for MIF23 are on sale now more here