Returning following a successful 2022 event, The Manchester Flower Festival is set to bloom once again, brightening up the lovely streets of our city this month. Organised annually by Manchester City Centre BID, will be a fabulous floral spectacle, featuring a ‘Manchester in Flowers’ floral trail plus lots of al fresco dining, live music and family entertainment.
Now in its fifth year, Manchester’s floral takeover attracts tens of thousands of additional visitors to the city centre and launches the summer event season in the city. Taking place across the late May Bank Holiday weekend, Manchester Flower Festival transforms the city centre with themed decorations and green installations, alongside live music, entertainment, alfresco food and drink, talks, demonstrations and workshops.
Since 2018, the event has taken place as part of the annual King Street Festival, however, has expanded over the years to bring a little bit of colour to the rest of the city centre. The region’s best floristry and gardening talent will team up for the occasion, turning shop windows, lampposts, vintage cars and even pop-up gardens into floral pieces of art.
When is Manchester Flower Festival?
Manchester Flower Festival will take place during the late May Bank Holiday weekend (Friday 26th – Monday 29th May 2023).
Where will Manchester Flower Festival take place?
Spanning across the entire city, visitors will be able to experience a stunning trail of flowers and greenery around every corner – with areas such as Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, St Ann’s Square, King Street and Manchester Arndale getting in the botanical spirit. Yep, when we say the entire city, we mean it.
Venture outside the festival zone where, once again, the city’s venues, public spaces and businesses are supporting the festival with their own newly commissioned gardens and displays, making up the Manchester Flower Festival Fringe. Visit a floating garden at The Bridgewater Hall, a nature trail at Great Northern Warehouse and new displays at Sadler’s Yard NOMA, First Street, Science and Industry Museum, Lincoln Square, One Piccadilly, Exhibition, Afflecks, Printworks and more.
What floral food and drinks events will take place at Manchester Flower Festival?
The world’s smallest spritz bar
Hosting the world’s smallest spritz bar, Harvey Nichols will be teaming up with Grey Goose at this year’s event, with a camionette on New Cathedral Street offering intimate complimentary cocktail masterclasses, with twelve slots for two people will be available each day. Keep an eye out for their outdoor bar too, which will be serving floral inspired cocktails as well as a ‘living menu’, providing customers with items to take away and plant in their own gardens.
Floral wine tasting masterclass
Join Harvey Nichols in celebration with The Manchester Flower Festival on May 27, 6pm-7.30pm, as their resident expert guides you through their edit of floral wines. Tickets are priced at £30 per person with £20 redeemable on products purchased at the event, including a 90-minute tasting session for one person; tasting of five wines, pre-selected by experts; and light nibbles.
Flower Festival on the Square
After the success of last year, Selfridges Exchange Square and The Manchester Flower Festival are teaming up to host ‘Flower Festival on The Square’, which will feature the event’s main stage, outdoor bar, and street food, with a percentage of profit going to local charities.
Manchester’s popular lifestyle hotel and bar, Moxy, has launched an exclusive cocktail this May, featuring refreshing, seasonal flavours for spring, just in time for Manchester’s Flower Festival. The aptly-named ‘In Bloom’ features Aviation Gin, Chambord Liquor, lemon juice, sour cherry, red grape & hibiscus cordial and egg whites, along with a beautiful floral garnish of mini edible violas.
El Gato Negro, Habas and Canto
Foodies can head to St Ann’s Square over the weekend and find pop-up restaurants from chef and restaurateur Simon Shaw, showcasing food and drink from the city’s much loved El Gato Negro, Habas and Canto restaurants, alongside a pop-up flower, art, and craft market.
Which bars and restaurants are taking part in the Manchester Flower Festival Cocktail Trail?
A delicious Cocktail Trail will also take place across the city, incorporating a selection of the city’s best bars and restaurants. Enjoy Manchester Flower Festival inspired cocktails at bars and restaurants across the city, including:
Royal Bloom – a bouquet of flavours; violet, orange and a hint of lemon, mixed with Ketel One Vodka.
📍50 Spring Gardens, M2 1EN.
Grey Goose & Harvey Nichols Vive Le Spritz Grey Goose Terrace
Le Peach & Jasmine Spritz – a perfect summertime Spritz made with Grey Goose Vodka, peach, jasmine, fresh lime, topped with Fever Tree White Grape & Apricot Soda. Garnished with a petal, naturally.
📍 New Cathedral Street, M1 1AD.
Mr Thomas’s Chop House
Elderflower Spritz, Lavender Bees Knees and Blushing Bouquet Bellini.
📍 52 Cross Street, M2 7AR.
Rosso Restaurant & Bar
Heard It Through The G’Vine – G’Vine Florasion infused with hibiscus, Cambusier green apple liqueur, prickly pear, peach and lemon.
📍 43 Spring Gardens, M2 2BG.
Sam’s Chop House
Strawberry Fields Forever, Zesty Raspberry G&T and The English Hedgerow.
📍 Back Pool Fold, M2 1HN.
Sonata Piano & Cabaret Lounge
Sonata Spring Blossom – a bespoke creation, exclusively for The Manchester Flower Festival, crafted from local ingredients including Manchester Gin.
📍 St Ann’s Alley, M2 6AJ.
Lavender Gin Fizz.
📍 20-22 King Street, M2 6AG.
Lilac Fields – paying homage to the symbol of Manchester and all things floral, this colourful cocktail has notes of juniper, fresh berries, lavender and honey.
📍 Upper Mall, Manchester Arndale, M4 3AQ.
What installations can be found on the Manchester Flower Festival Trail?
Turing’s Sunflowers by Manchester Arndale and Filthy Luker
Head to Manchester Arndale to discover a stunning and unique display of giant inflatable sunflower sculptures, created by renowned artist behind the Halloween in the City MCR Monsters, Filthy Luker. These 4m high sculptures are sure to capture the attention of passers-by, with their vibrant colours and bold design.
Bringing together the beauty of nature and the wonders of science, the sunflowers will pay homage to the brilliant mathematician and codebreaker, Alan Turing, who believed that the spiral shapes on the heads of sunflowers followed the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical concept that appears frequently in nature.
📍 Manchester Arndale
Baby Bloom by La Beau Fleurs Ltd
Taking inspiration from Williams and Kilburn who invented the first stored computer system, right here in Manchester in 1948, the Baby Bloom installation will be bold and imposing, featuring an explosion of colour and a variety of materials to frame its stature.
📍 The Floral Marquee on New Cathedral Street
Suffragette City by The Manchester Flower Festival and Sarah Hayes, Twig Twisters
Inspired by Emmeline Pankhurst and the Women’s Suffrage movement, this design features plants in the purple, green and white Suffragette colours (including lavender and thyme) and has willow figures created by Twig Twisters, depicting protest scenes as their centre piece. The horse and rider figure are included to represent the most infamous protest of the movement, where Emily Wilding Davison threw herself in front of the King’s Horse at the Epsom Derby in June 1913.
📍 St Ann’s Square, M2 7DH
The Cotton Bud & Its Meadow by Frog Flowers
Highlighting the importance of wildflower meadows, the Cotton Bud Fountain in St Ann’s Square, which represents the county flower of Manchester, will become a real focal point at this year’s celebrations. Featuring wildflowers, ferns, grasses, climbing flowers and cotton blooms, this garden will aim to inspire visitors to plant their very own wild meadows, whilst supporting native pollinators too!
📍 The Fountain, St Ann’s Square
The Hive by Citiblooms Ltd
Manchester became a ‘hive of activity’ during the Industrial Revolution and homed thousands of ‘worker bees’. The industrialisation of Manchester put the city in the top three most populated cities in the UK and since then, the ‘buzz’ has spread across the city and the bee became not only a symbol of industriousness and hard work, but also a symbol of solidarity and unity after the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.
The Hive will be a unique structure at the Manchester Flower Festival, offering an abundance of natural beauty through biophilia and flowers, a place of tranquillity to remember everything we have achieved as a city, whilst being a place to relax and reflect.
📍 St Ann’s Square
LGBTQ+ Phonebox by Frog Flowers
Featuring a red phonebox filled with beautiful flowers in the tones of the LGBTQIA+ progress flag, this installation will sit on the corner of King Street and Deansgate. The street has a historical link to LGBTQIA+ rights in the city, with the first meeting of the “North-Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee” launching in Church House, Deansgate on 7 October 1964 and additional meetings leading to the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. Today, the street plays host to Manchester’s annual Pride parade.
📍 Corner of King Street and Deansgate
The Town Hall Clock by Decordia
Whilst the refurbishments are underway, Decordia have created this stunning piece to pay homage to the city’s beautiful Town Hall clock. The design has been created to remind us of the grand neo-gothic architecture of the Town Hall, which has been created in a stunning display with a variety of plants and bee-friendly flowers.
📍 Corner of King Street and Cross Street, outside Diesel
The Rain Garden by Caroline Dowsett and Ardwick Climate Action
How can we be a better architect for nature at home? What can aid its growth and assist in its health? The Rain Garden looks to engage people in this thought. The Rain Garden showcases the negatives of using manmade products that are unsympathetic to nature. As you journey through, the micro-garden utilizes clever planning that aids nature, becoming more fertile and rewarding to British ecosystems as you reach the end.
The garden will also feature a garden shed painted by Manchester based artist, Caroline Dowsett. Her piece will reflect the rainy city of Manchester through colour tones, shapes, and her signature black fluid lines to convey the city’s positive energy.
📍 King Street
Hilda Ogden by The Royal Exchange Manchester
Celebrate the iconic, much-loved Coronation Street character, Hilda Ogden, in a wonderfully spectacular floral vision. Featuring Hilda in her iconic head scarf, curlers and tabard, this garden includes a mosaic of fresh flowers with orchids, craspedia, thistles, Limonium and chrysanthemums. Other parts of Hilda’s outfit will be crafted from woven foliage, and will also feature a garden of late spring flowers including peonies, hydrangea, alliums, stocks and other seasonal flowers and foliage next to a bench where visitors can capture a selfie.
📍 Royal Exchange Arcade
The Grassienda by Blossom Mcr
A garden themed around Manchester’s iconic Haçienda nightclub. A green garden of the unexpected, industrial and a place of happiness and love for all. It will showcase graceful grasses to suggest the movement of dance, include a pocket physick garden for resilience, offering natural medicines and remedies as well as botanicals with benefits for longevity and health.
The Grassienda will also feature a green libation bar, recognising that dancing is thirsty work! Whilst planters will be painted in the venue’s iconic colours and stripes, along with a soundtrack of 90s club classics.
📍 King Street
What other events can visitors expect from the Manchester Flower Festival?
New Cathedral Street Floral Marquee
New Cathedral Street will be home to the Floral Marquee which is new for 2023. The marquee will be a gallery of beautiful floral displays from local florists including Smart Floral Art, IndieBloom, Flowers from the Farm and Treehouse Manchester. Plus visitors will also be able to take part in a host of workshops. including Ikebana Japanese flower arranging, pressed flower framing and making macrame plant hangers.
The Cloud Gardener
Inspiring a new generation of urban gardeners, Manchester’s The Cloud Gardener will be taking to the Main Stage in Exchange Square from 11am on Sunday 28th May as one of the daily garden talks, whilst the Main Stage will also feature live music and a line-up of Manchester’s top DJs.
Manchester Bee Parade
Families will be ‘buzzing’ at this year’s celebrations as children (and parents!) are invited to come along to the festival dressed as a bee, bug, or pollinator for the brand new, Manchester Bee Parade. Starting at The Royal Exchange at 1pm on Sunday 28th May, participants will be able to follow Manchester’s Queen Bee from garden to garden, whilst taking part in the special bee dance, ‘The Waggledance’ in an unforgettable, family parade around the festivities.
Honeyworks at Manchester Printworks
Manchester’s Printworks has announced a series of special events which combine bee keeping, honey tasting and cocktails, known as ‘Honeyworks’. Taking place on May 26 and 27, Printworks will be highlighting their rooftop bees for this year’s festival by hosting a ticketed event in their newly refreshed rooftop garden featuring four live beehives, each with their own Queen bee and 100,000 honeybees. The beekeeping experience will be followed by a delicious tasting session with Decorrum, a spiced rum featuring honey produced from Manchester Printworks’ very own beehives.
Clothing Repair Pop-Up at Primark
In celebration of Manchester Flower Festival, Primark is hosting a free drop-in repair workshop with teacher and textile design graduate, Michelle Murphy, from 11.00am – 4.00pm on May 26. The short drop-in sessions will focus on floral sewing and embroidery techniques, such as daisy stitches, to help inspire attendees to repair and re-wear their clothes. The free sessions are suitable for complete beginners and no booking is necessary.
Dogs of Deansgate Square
Deansgate Square loves all of its doggy residents, so for Manchester Flower Festival they have teamed up with Flourish Manchester to invite you to celebrate your pooch with a floral embellishment to their collar or harness. Join the Flourish team to create a canine crown for your furry bestie, have your photograph taken by the onsite team and tag @DeansgateSquare, #dogsofdeansgatesquare. The favourite post will receive some special doggy goodies from Penny & Co.
The Royal Exchange Bee Trail
To celebrate The Manchester Flower Festival, The Royal Exchange Manchester is hosting a Bee Trail on May 27 and 28. Pick up an entry form from one of the participating outlets and follow the clues around the trail. Locate the hidden Bee picture in each outlet and note down the unique number on the entry form next to the store or eatery’s name. Once completed, fill in your contact details and hand your entry form back in to one of the participating stores to be entered into a draw. Prizes include vouchers for French Connection, TGI Fridays and Michaels Coffeehouse, £50 floral bouquet from Royal Exchange Flowers, a meal for two at Pastan and more.
Mother, is an open air exhibition in celebration of Mother Earth. Manchester artists, Caroline Dowsett and Ben Vulliamy have joined forces for the exhibition which is open 24 hours a day and free to attend. It sees their abstract pieces nestled among the dense, lush greenery of Kampus’ canal side garden.
The Manchester Flower Festival Kids Zone
There’s plenty of activities for families to get involved in during Manchester Flower Festival. There’s the free Conker Crew’s mud kitchen and sensory garden in St Ann’s Square, which includes dry mud kitchens. Children can mix colours, textures, smells with herbs, flowers, nature treasures and natural resources and tuition led mindful crafts including hapa zome (leaf dye – using hammers, fabric, flowers and foliage to create print), willow weaving and seed bomb construction.
Flower crown making workshop at The Botanist
Fancy making your own flower crown? Sponsored by Hendricks, enjoy a relaxing flower crown making experience whilst sipping on a Hendricks Flora Adora and tonic and create your masterpiece. Perfect for people with or without craft experience, everyone will come away with a floral garland to be proud of. Workshops at The Botanist are available on May 27 and 28.
Find out more about the floral festival here.