Book lovers, rejoice! Manchester’s Festival of Libraries 2023 is here with free activities, treasure hunts, and a masterclass with the Poet Laureate

Manchester is set to host the eagerly anticipated Festival of Libraries from Wednesday 7th June to Sunday 11th June 2023.

Manchester is set to host the eagerly anticipated Festival of Libraries from Wednesday 7th June to Sunday 11th June 2023.

This year marks the third instalment of the festival, which celebrates the 133 libraries in Greater Manchester and their contribution to culture, creativity, and wellbeing.

The festival promises to be a joyful celebration for everyone, featuring internationally renowned institutions such as Central Library, Chetham’s, The Portico Library, and John Rylands Research Institute and Library, as well as local libraries across the city region.

Manchester’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature will also be reflected throughout the festival.

This year’s festival program aims to surprise and intrigue with a range of exciting activities that will blow a few myths about libraries. These include live music, library exchanges, dance and theatre performances, poetry commissions, a writing trail, and family-friendly activities. Best of all, all activities will be free to take part in.

One of the key highlights of the festival is the “Masterclass with the Poet Laureate”, led by none other than Simon Armitage.

Armitage will be sharing his love of writing, reading, and libraries with audiences and dispelling any misconceptions about libraries. The Poet Laureate’s reading will also be a must-see event.

Speaking about his involvement in the Festival of Libraries, Simon Armitage said, “My experience of reading and writing began in the village library where I grew up, then in the nearby town library, then in libraries at various places of study and teaching.

“For many people, they are an invaluable aspect of everyday life, giving access not just to books but to services, learning, conversation and creative thinking. I look forward to celebrating libraries as one of the great and necessary institutions as part of Manchester’s very own city-wide Festival of Libraries in the UNESCO City of Literature.”

Joining the festival as part of the ‘Inspired By’ line-up will be the larger-than-life Cheddar Gorgeous, who rose to fame on Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

Cheddar Gorgeous will recount her headline-making experiences, and audiences can look forward to an inspiring and engaging talk. Previous ‘Inspired By’ guests include Jay Blades, Guy Garvey, Julie Hesmondhalgh, and Stuart Maconie, and more names will be announced soon for the 2023 festival.

Cheddar Gorgeous, speaking about the festival, said, “Our libraries are not only archives of our past, but spaces that encourage word- and world-making. Library doors are open to everyone and, when we enter, they ask us not only to consider our past but to imagine our future.

“Through sci-fi, classics, fantasy, poetry and theory libraries allow us to dream a little bigger.

“I can’t wait to be involved in Manchester’s Festival of Libraries this year, and celebrate the endless possibilities that libraries create for us, without expecting anything in return.

“This festival is a testament to how these spaces are intrinsic to Manchester’s diverse communities, especially as a UNESCO City of Literature.”

The festival isn’t just for adults, either. The “Look for a Book” treasure hunt is a family-friendly activity that promises lots of fun. Children and their families will follow the clues and join the quest to find one of 500 books hidden in Greater Manchester’s libraries, with a chance to meet the author.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Look for a Book treasure hunt, which will see children and families scouring Greater Manchester’s libraries in search of one of 500 hidden books. The lucky few may even get the chance to meet the mystery author, who will be revealed at the end of April.

But the festival is not just about fun and games. It also features a host of thought-provoking events, including an in-conversation event with award-winning playwright and artist Linda Brogan. Brogan will be discussing how her pursuit of memories led to the excavation of the Reno Club, a renowned soul and funk club in Manchester during the 1970s. The club was a space for young mixed-race Mancunians who often felt unwelcome elsewhere. The excavation, which took place 30 years after the club was demolished, inspired the book “12 Words,” written by Carmen, Tia, and Catherine alongside Linda. Together, they unlock truths, secrets, and confessions.

Liv McCafferty, the newly appointed Creative Producer of the festival, is helping to create the curiosity and magic behind this year’s event. They say, “Being able to work with such inspiring creatives and facilitators in bringing these spaces to life for Manchester’s communities is a dream.”

For more information please visit their website by clicking here. 


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