Manchester International Festival Returns This Week With A Huge Line-Up, Including Cillian Murphy

Laura Rogan Laura Rogan - Editor of Secret Manchester

Manchester International Festival Returns This Week With A Huge Line-Up, Including Cillian Murphy

MIF will return this week.

Announcing its return back in April, the Manchester International Festival is returning from July 1-18th following the pandemic, with a vibrant programme of original new work by artists from over 20 countries.

Taking place in various COVID-safe environments both indoors and outdoors, the festival will focus on a number of important themes that have come to light as a result of Coronavirus, including love and human connections, togetherness, equality and social change.

Credit: Walk With Amal | Nick Wall

Including the highly anticipated ‘Walk With Amal’ – which is set to reach Manchester later this year – the festival will mark the beginning of Little Amal’s journey, a project which will be shedding light on refugees. The giant puppet will walk 5,000 miles from the Turkish-Syrian border all the way to the UK – in a bid to remind people “don’t forget about us” and highlight the potential of refugees.

This year’s programme will also see a 42m sculpture of the Big Ben pop up in Piccadilly Gardens, assembled from 20,000 copies of books that have shaped British politics. Elsewhere, 100 portraits of Black British people will be showcased within the Arndale centre by artist Cephas Williams, highlighting the contribution of Black people living in the UK.

A new film titled All of This Unreal Time, starring Cillian Murphy, will also screen in a world premiere with an immersive installation and surround sound.

Other highlights include the Festival Square being moved to Cathedral Gardens – with food, drink and free entertainment for Mancs to enjoy. The square will see a number of performances for the duration of the festival, including curated nights from Jamz Supernova, Homoelectric, Mr Scruff and DJ Paulette, along with many more artists and performers from across the UK.

Credit: Cillian Murphy/MIF

Manchester International Festival Artistic Director & Chief Executive, John McGrath says: “MIF has always been a Festival like no other – with almost all the work being created especially for us in the months and years leading up to each Festival edition.

“But who would have guessed two years ago what a changed world the artists making work for our 2021 Festival would be working in?”

“I am thrilled to be revealing the projects that we will be presenting from 1-18 July this year – a truly international programme of work made in the heat of the past year and a vibrant response to our times. Created with safety and wellbeing at the heart of everything, it is flexible to ever-changing circumstances, and boldly explores both real and digital space.

“We hope MIF21 will provide a time and place to reflect on our world now, to celebrate the differing ways we can be together, and to emphasise, despite all that has happened, the importance of our creative connections – locally and globally.”

Credit: Louis Reynolds/MIF

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, says: “After the year we’ve all had that has been such a massive challenge for our cultural sector – which was the first to lockdown a year ago and will be the last to reopen – Manchester needs MIF this year more than ever.

“Manchester has always been a city that values and champions culture and is rightly recognised across the globe for its strengths and innovation in this. As we now begin to move out of the pandemic, we’re very clear that the cultural sector has an enduring and important part to play in our recovery.

“Thanks to the determination and creativity of the MIF team and all the artists and others who are part of this year’s festival, I have no doubt that MIF21 will put Manchester back in the spotlight once more, firmly centre-stage again, leading the way as ever and showing the rest of the world what Manchester does best.”

Many of the festivals showcases and installations will be free to see, however, there will also be a number of ticketed events throughout the festival – which can on sale May 20th. Find out more and book tickets here.

[Featured image: Louis Reynolds/MIF/Cillian Murphy]

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