The Manchester Flower Festival, which signals the start of summer in the city, returns for its fifth year to celebrate the late May Bank Holiday weekend from Friday 26th to Monday 29th May 2023.
Organised by Manchester City Centre Business Improvement District, the free festival will transform the city centre into a floral wonderland, featuring the ‘Manchester in Flowers’ floral trail.
The trail winds its way through the city’s shopping streets and includes ten professionally designed pop-up gardens that celebrate the city’s culture and history.
Visitors can expect to see a variety of displays, including The Grassienda, a version of the city’s iconic nightclub made out of grasses, a Rain Garden inspired by the city’s weather reputation, a Town Hall Clock planter, a wildflower takeover of the Cotton Bud Fountain on St Ann’s Square, and a giant bee hive.
There will also be gardens in homage to the city’s LGBTQIA+ history, the Suffragettes, Manchester inventions, and Coronation Street icon Hilda Ogden.
The festival will also feature green displays across the city, including a Vimto mini garden, wheelbarrow gardens inspired by Roman Manchester and the city’s football teams, and floral displays blooming from shop windows and doorways.
Gardening greats The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the National Trust will both feature at the festival, giving visitors the opportunity to pose with the RHS floral green wall and find out about RHS Garden Bridgewater and the new RHS Grow App. The National Trust team will also be on hand to chat about their new ‘Sky Park’ for the city, Castlefield Viaduct, whose new community garden will be open for visitors during the festival.
For the first time, the festival will host a Floral Marquee on New Cathedral Street, which will be a gallery of beautiful floral displays from local florists. Visitors will also be able to take part in a range of workshops, including Ikebana Japanese flower arranging and making macrame plant hangers.
The festival will also feature live music and a line-up of Manchester’s top DJs on the Main Stage in Exchange Square, with The Cloud Gardener taking to the stage to inspire a new generation of urban gardeners.
Harvey Nichols will be teaming up with Grey Goose to host the world’s smallest spritz bar, offering intimate complimentary cocktail masterclasses on New Cathedral Street.
The outdoor bar will be serving floral-inspired cocktails as well as a ‘living menu’ of items to take away and plant in your own gardens.
Selfridges Exchange Square and The Manchester Flower Festival are teaming up to host ‘Flower Festival on The Square’, featuring the event’s main stage, outdoor bar, and street food, with a percentage of profits going to local charities. There will also be a delicious Cocktail Trail across the city, incorporating a selection of the city’s best bars and restaurants.
Families are invited to join the Manchester Bee Parade dressed as a bee, bug, or pollinator for an unforgettable family parade around the festivities.
There will be a bee spotting trail across the festival, as well as a mud kitchen and sensory garden on St Ann’s Square.
The festival fringe will see venues, public spaces, and businesses supporting the festival with their own newly commissioned gardens and displays.
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, Affleck’s, and Printworks.
This year’s event features a variety of flower installations that pay homage to significant figures, events, and landmarks of the city.
Among the installations are the Turing’s Sunflowers, giant inflatable sunflower sculptures designed by Filthy Luker to honor the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing, the inventor of the first stored computer system in Manchester, which inspired the Baby Bloom installation by La Beau Fleurs Ltd.
Another exhibit is Suffragette City, an installation featuring plants in the purple, green, and white Suffragette colors that honour Emmeline Pankhurst and the Women’s Suffrage movement.
The Cotton Bud & Its Meadow by Frog Flowers highlights the importance of wildflower meadows, while Citiblooms Ltd’s The Hive features natural beauty through biophilia and flowers, providing a place of tranquility to reflect on the city’s achievements.
The event also features other installations such as the LGBTQ+ Phonebox by Frog Flowers, the Town Hall Clock by Decordia, the Rain Garden by Caroline Dowsett and Ardwick Climate Action, and the Hilda Ogden installation by The Royal Exchange Manchester, among others.