We’ll celebrate anything and everything here in Manchester, which is what makes our city so wonderful, and it has now been announced that Women of the World (WOW) festival will be debuting in Manchester this year.
Over two days and three evenings in May (Friday 24 – Sunday 26) the world’s biggest, most comprehensive festival celebrating women, girls and non-binary people, will take over spaces around Aviva Studios to bring people together to find solutions to the pressing issues of gender inequality and celebrate the achievements of women, girls and non-binary people both in the North West and globally.
On Friday 24 May, WOW Manchester presents an evening with artist and author, Melanie Brown – AKA Mel B. Celebrating the launch of her critically acclaimed memoir, Brutally Honest, Mel and journalist and co-author Louise Gannon will share an unfiltered discussion on Mel’s journey from being a Spice Girl and global icon, to Women’s Aid patron and champion for survivors of abuse – and everything in between. This will be one of WOW Manchester’s headline evening ticketed events, with tickets on general sale on Friday 16 February.
Opening the festival with a powerful Moment of Unity, WOW’s founder Jude Kelly will bring everyone together to look at the highs and lows of the last five years of progress. Throughout the weekend, household names, local activists and artists will present their big ideas to change the world, whilst inspiring thinkers and world-class speakers will hold frank and lively sessions on anything and everything.
Topics span: the climate, masculinity, menopause myths, reproductive justice, gentrification, divorce, the murky history of the fashion industry, sandwich caring, and orgasms, to urgent conversations around women and conflict with accounts from first hand survivors.
Sessions will also celebrate women and non-binary people in Manchester’s music scene, explore how iconic buildings can shape our cultural landscapes, and discuss football’s ability to transcend boundaries.
Festival-goers will be able to visit the bustling Marketplace – a hub of urgency, generosity and conversation with over 70 spaces to explore. They will witness pop-up performances from indigenous oud players, poets, choirs and dance troupes; participate in workshops led by Greater Manchester’s rich and diverse talent and explore the city with Walking Tours that celebrate the women usually confined to the footnotes of history from marriage and maternity through to protest and crime.
Founder Jude Kelly said: “We are so excited to be bringing WOW to Manchester and the North West for the first time. As a Liverpool girl myself, it is a joy to be able to celebrate the rich diversity of stories across the region and to build a Festival with the people of the North West at its heart.
“Factory International is the perfect partner for WOW as we continue to grow and it is a privilege to be able to take over the iconic Aviva Studios with the unique WOW blend of celebration, determination and frank conversation.”
In the lead-up to WOW Manchester, The WOW Foundation’s custom-built WOW Girls Festival Bus will park up at Aviva Studios on March 1 as part of the last leg of its UK-wide tour. Designed by artist/designer Emma Hardaker working with inspiration from Getaway Girls in Leeds, the WOW Girls Festival Bus is an interactive space created with and for young people.
The Manchester stop will include WOW Speed Mentoring for up to 120 young people from the Greater Manchester area and mentors from across the UK, and school visits led by Factory International’s Creative Learning team.
Day Tickets for both the Saturday and Sunday of WOW Manchester will go on general sale on Friday 2 February, as well as weekend tickets, here.