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Legendary and international acts headline Festival Square’s free open-air stage at MIF23

In an announcement today, Factory International revealed the highly-anticipated line-up for Festival Square, the vibrant epicentre of the renowned biennial Manchester International Festival (MIF).

Returning to the city from June 29th to July 16th, this year’s festival promises an extraordinary experience for music enthusiasts and families alike.

Festival Square’s new riverside location will house an open-air stage, hosting over 190 sensational artists, bands, DJs, and musicians who will perform for free.

With a staggering line-up of more than 150 artists hailing from Greater Manchester, the program is set to be a grand celebration of the region’s eclectic sounds.

Among the standout performances at Festival Square, legendary post-punk band A Certain Ratio will take the stage, marking their 45th anniversary.

Joining them will be the avant-pop trio The Orielles, the electro-art rock quartet Dutch Uncles, and the trans-non-binary singer-songwriter, composer, and producer Planningtorock, who will lead a northern celebration at Festival Square.

International artists will also grace the stage, including the singer-songwriter Nakhane, the captivating acapella group The Joy, who recently dazzled audiences on Jools Holland, and an intriguing in-conversation session with Canadian artist Peaches.

Throughout MIF23, Festival Square will showcase takeovers by Manchester’s most renowned promoters, club nights, collectives, venues, and radio stations.

Band on the Wall, Brighter Sound, Dave Haslam, Feel Good Club, Piano in the City, Reform Radio, Trans Creative, and YES are just a few of the exceptional names bringing their energy to the square.

Additionally, experimental classical concerts by Vulva Voce, Bothy Project, Untold Orchestra, and K’in Ensemble will captivate audiences during lunchtimes from Tuesday to Friday.

In a testament to the region’s artistic richness, 26 artists and community groups from Greater Manchester were selected from over 290 applicants in an open call-out earlier this year.

Alt-pop singer-songwriter Nxdia, Afrobeat and Reggae collective Sens Sagna and the Kajamor Family, Latin band Guacamaya, and the Brazilian percussion group Jubacana are among the talented performers chosen to showcase their talents.

Factory International’s music development program, Factory Sounds, will also be featured at Festival Square, highlighting solo artist and multi-instrumentalist James Holt, afrobeat-influenced rapper Prido, and the shoegaze indie pop band Foxglove.

The immense diversity of Manchester’s music scene will be on full display at Festival Square, from the punk anarchy of The Red Stains and the cosmic soul of The KTNA to the captivating broken-beat DJ sounds of Werkha and the melodious pop singer-songwriter Bay Bryan.

A highly anticipated Daytimers collective takeover will treat audiences to live performances and DJ sets by Samrai & Guests, Vindya fresh from their recent Samarbeta residency, Taxi Cab Industries, Trayner, G33 & Chandé. Additionally, Unity Radio will 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, the Festival Square programmer for Factory International, expressed her excitement about the 2023 edition, stating, “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 program for the hub of Manchester International Festival. The talent in this city is huge, and we’re bringing over 190 acts to this international stage.

The program we’ve put together will ignite excitement, inspire creativity, and fill you with joy on a daily basis. We invite everyone to come down to Festival Square and discover their new favourite artist!”

Sarah Maxfield, Area Director, North, Arts Council England, also expressed her delight at the return of the Manchester International Festival across the city after the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Festival Square, she emphasised, offers both the local community and visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of free live music and family activities. She was particularly pleased to see the impressive number of artists from Greater Manchester participating in this year’s program.

While enjoying the sensational music, festival-goers will have access to a tantalizing array of food and drink options at the heart of MIF23. Super Serve, recently announced as Factory International’s food and beverage partner, will provide a sneak preview of its offerings ahead of its full rollout in October.

ARMR will be serving up mouthwatering plant-based Caribbean delights, while Hip Hop Chip Shop will be delighting taste buds with their finest fish, chips, and mushy peas.

Zouk will be serving delectable Indian and Pakistani cuisine, and Ginger’s Comfort Emporium will make an appearance, offering its spectacular ice creams and sorbets.

But the festivities aren’t limited to music and culinary delights.

Festival Square has something for everyone, including an array of family entertainment options. Babyrocksampler, Born To Be Wild Child, Playhouse Project, and more will be hosting engaging activities for the little ones, from song and dance workshops to interactive music-making and storytelling.

As Festival Square nears its grand finale, fifty students from high schools across Greater Manchester will present a joyful and celebratory fashion show inspired by the iconic artist Yayoi Kusama.

The fashion show will feature avant-garde creations, mesmerising performances, and talented make-up artists, providing a delightful conclusion to the event.

For those unable to join in person, Sounds From the Square will broadcast live to the world through and the Factory International YouTube channel. Audiences can expect exclusive interviews, breathtaking performances, and behind-the-scenes access to the productions at MIF23, ensuring that the magic of the festival reaches global audiences.

The innovative design for this year’s Festival Square, created by long-term MIF collaborators Hawkins\Brown architecture practice, draws inspiration from the shape and design of Factory International’s new home.

It places the audience front and centre, capturing the essence of Manchester’s vibrant energy and unique spirit.

Festival Square’s stage is proudly sponsored by Bruntwood, a leading investor in a commercial workspace, life sciences, technology, and supporter of arts and culture.

This year marks Bruntwood’s 15th year of partnership with MIF, showcasing its commitment to the arts. Factory International, as one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations, receives generous support from public funding.

For more information about the MIF23 program, including Festival Square, you can visit their website by clicking here.

Tickets for the walking tours will be available for Factory International members on June 7th, with general sales starting on June 9th.

All other activities at Festival Square are free and unticketed, running from Tuesday to Friday, noon to late, and on Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to late.

Fri 30 June

Zola Tec
The Get Up
Manchester School of Samba
James Holt
A Certain Ratio
Dave Haslam

Sat 1 July
Our Kids Social
Cariss Auburn
Bay Bryan

Sun 2 July
Dub Smugglers
Mother Sugar
Caitlin LM
E&I Collective
Force of Nature feat Sarah Yaseen, Emmanuela Yogolelo & Meduulla
Agbeko feat Mali Hayes
Me Gusta

Tues 4 July
Vulva Voce
John Haycock
Karis Jade
Women in Hip Hop feat OneDa, Lady Ice, Envy & more in collaboration with musicians from the One Education Manchester Youth String Orchestra
Women in Hip Hop with Veba

Wed 5 July
Mabon Jones, Dan Springate & Carmel Smickersgill
Anna McLuckie
Chrysalid Homo
Lavender Rodriguez
In Conversation with Peaches

Thurs 6 July
MIRO & The Michael Cretu Trio
Evie Moran
The Rally
Trans Creative takeover

Fri 7 July
Simmi Singh
Zola Tec
The Two Stubborn Nigerians Podcast
Motto Estate
The Joy
Artist Lebo, Masted Ced, Kwexi, Ms Dee, Terrie T, G2, Joe Shams, Toots, Soweto Boy & Live PAs from Kahreign, 0710, EBII, Sho Sho & Squad 9 hosted by Malume Nez

Sat 8 July
Sens Sagna & the Kajamor Family
Voices Beyond
Desi Fusion
Keltio, Daniyaal, Riya, Medley, Martha Pryer, Arjun & Co, Danny H, Anamelia & HMD
Ruf Dug, Lupini & Tom Sharkett

Sun 9 July
Born to Be Wild Child
Chips with Everything
Angel Meadow Soul Club
The Orielles
Hold Tight

Tues 11 July
K’in Ensemble
Salford City Radio present Women on the Waves
Coruja Jones
Living Room Dance Club presents the Vinyl Sessions
The Red Stains
Mx W0rld

Wed 12 July
Jenny Dyson, Lady Lamp, Alice Roberts & Carmel Smickersgill
HERchester: A Podcast
feat DARKA, Abnormal Sleepz & Ebii

Thurs 13 July
So Many Beauties
Women For Iran
Zacc Rogers
Jasmine Issaka
Soundcamp Showcase

Fri 14 July
Polly Virr
Ada Grace
Queer as F*ck feat
Miss Chief Cabaret feat Banksie, Lil, Violet Blonde & more
Dutch Uncles
DJ Paulette

Sat 15 July
Kusama Fashion Show
NIA Choir
Marcus Hercules & The Ruff Neck Band
Balmy Army
Shaq Rayes
Samrai & Guests
Vindya ft Mithushan
Taxi Cab Industries, Trayner, G33 & Chandé

Sun 16 July
We Gather
JD Dance
Colin Curtis

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