Factory International has announced today the line-up for Festival Square, the central hub of its biennial Manchester International Festival (MIF) which returns to the city this summer. Taking place from June 29 to July 16 at the new riverside location Festival Square’s free open-air stage will host over 190 artists, bands, DJs and musicians all performing for free, as well as family entertainment and a wide variety of food and drink. With over 150 artists in the line-up hailing from Greater Manchester, the programme is massive celebration of sounds of the region.
One of the highlights of the Festival Square programme is legendary post-punk band A Certain Ratio celebrating 45 years of the band. They’ll be joined by avant-pop-trio The Orielles, electro art rock quartet Dutch Uncles, trans-non-binary, singer-song writer, composer & producer Planningtorock, who lead a northern celebration at Festival Square, alongside international artists such as singer-songwriter Nakhane, acapella group The Joy who’ve recently performed on Jools Holland, plus an in conversation with Canadian artist Peaches.
Throughout MIF 2023, Festival Square will present takeovers from some of the city’s best promoters, club nights, collectives, venues and radio stations including Band on the Wall, Brighter Sound, Dave Haslam, Feel Good Club, Piano in the City, Reform Radio, Trans Creative and YES. Every lunchtime, Tuesday to Friday, the square will play host to experimental classical concerts from the likes of Vulva Voce, Bothy Project, Untold Orchestra and K’in Ensemble.
Following an open call-out earlier this year, in which over 290 artists and community groups from the region applied, 26 were selected including alt-pop singer-songwriter Nxdia, Afrobeat and Reggae collective Sens Sagna and the Kajamor Family, Latin band Guacamaya, and Brazilian percussion from youth-group Jubacana. Showcasing Factory International’s music development programme, Factory Sounds, solo artist and multi-instrumentalist James Holt, afrobeat influenced rapper Prido, and shoegaze indie pop band Foxglove will also perform.
The range of Manchester’s scene will be in full force across Festival Square from the punk anarchy of The Red Stains and the cosmic soul of The KTNA, to the broken-beat DJ sounds of Werkha and pop singer-songwriter Bay Bryan.
A Daytimers collective takeover will feature live performances and DJ sets from Samrai & Guests, Vindya fresh from their recent Samarbeta residency, Taxi Cab Industries, Trayner, G33 & Chandé; and Unity Radio present a celebration of Women in Hip Hop featuring OneDa, Lady Ice, Envy and more in collaboration with musicians from the One Education Manchester Youth String Orchestra, marking 50 years of the genre.
Rivca Burns, Festival Square programmer for Factory International said: “We’re super excited to share the 2023 edition of Festival Square, featuring more voices than ever before from across Greater Manchester. It is an honour to curate the programme for the hub of Manchester International Festival, the talent in this city is huge and bringing over 190 acts to this international stage. The programme will excite, inspire and fill you with joy daily, get down to Festival Square to enjoy your new favourite artist!”
A variety of food and drink will be available at the hub of MIF23. Super Serve who were recently announced as Factory International’s food & beverage partner will preview their offering ahead of their full roll-out when the venue officially opens in October; ARMR will be serving up tasty plant-based Caribbean delights; Hip Hop Chip Shop bring the finest fish, chips and mushy peas; there’s Indian and Pakistani cuisine from Zouk; and Ginger’s Comfort Emporium will be making an appearance with their spectacular ice-creams and sorbets.
An array of family entertainment from Babyrocksampler, Born To Be Wild Child, Playhouse Project and more will take place each weekend, bring the little ones along for song and dance workshops, interactive music-making and storytelling. And Festival Square will close out in style on the final weekend, as fifty students from high schools across Greater Manchester present a joyful and celebratory fashion show inspired by Yayoi Kusama, featuring make-up artists, performers and their avant-garde creations. Plus, Jonathan Schofield and Skyliner will lead walking tours exploring some of the themes running throughout the MIF23 programme.
For those outside the city centre, Sounds From the Square will be broadcasting live to the world from the Factory International website and YouTube channel with interviews, performances and behind the scenes access to the productions at MIF23. More details on the MIF23 programme, including Festival Square, can be found here.
Tickets for the walking tours will go on sale to Factory International members on June 7, and on general sale on June 9. All other activities at the MIF Festival Square are free, unticketed and will run Tuesday to Friday 12pm to late, Saturday and Sunday 10am to late.