Festival of Libraries at Manchester Central Library

Festival of Libraries
Manchester Central Library
6th June 2023 – 11th June 2023

Get here sustainably

Find Out More »

Cheddar Gorgeous who will be taking part in this year's Festival of Libraries
© Irene Lea

The Festival of Libraries is a joyful celebration of the role that Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries play in wellbeing, culture, creativity and more. It’s a festival for everyone that spans internationally renowned institutions such as Central Library, Chetham’s, The Portico Library and John Rylands Research Institute and Library as well as the network of local libraries across the city region, reflecting Manchester’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Now in its third year, Festival of Libraries enjoys the support and collaboration of authors, artists and creatives, who all believe in the vital community and cultural role of libraries. June’s festival programme will highlight this, with a programme that will surprise and intrigue including live music, library exchanges, dance and theatre, poetry  commissions, a writing trail, family friendly activities and much more, all of which will be free to take part in. It will also blow a few myths about libraries which Simon Armitage will be leading the charge on in his Masterclass with the Poet Laureate, sharing his love of writing, reading and libraries with audiences, to whom he will also be giving a poetry reading.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage says, “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.”

Peter James Millson

Joining the festival as part of the ‘Inspired By’ line-up will be non-other than larger than life Cheddar Gorgeous of Ru Paul’s Drag Race fame, who will be recounting her headline making experiences. Jay Blades, Guy Garvey, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Stuart Maconie are previous ‘Inspired By’ guests and more names will shortly be announced for 2023.

Cheddar Gorgeous says, “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.”

Fun is a big factor for Festival of Libraries and the Look for a Book treasure hunt promises plenty of this. It’s set to mobilise children and families as they follow the clues and join the quest to find one of 500 books hidden in Greater Manchester’s libraries and with the chance for some participants to meet the author.  In 2022 Lenny Henry laid down the Look for a Book challenge and this year’s author will be revealed at the end of April.

The festival will offer lots of thought-provoking events, such as an in conversation event with award-winning playwright and artist Linda Brogan. Linda will be discussing how her pursuit of memories led to the excavation of the Reno Club, renowned in the 1970s for being the best soul and funk club in Manchester and aspace for young mixed-race Mancunians who often weren’t welcome elsewhere; an exhibition at the Whitwort; and now a book, 12 WordsAuthors Carmen, Tia and Catherine were part of the 2016 Reno excavation that took place 30 years after the club was demolished and have written 12 Words alongside Linda, in the process unlocking truths, secrets and confessions.

Get the latest news from Oxford Road in your inbox