Photo: Jose Pesquero

Manchester International Festival returns, this year with many of the biggest events found here on the Oxford Road Corridor. The bulk of the programme takes place at Manchester Central with many other events scattered across the Corridor at Manchester Central Library, HOME and the Whitworth.

One of the leading worldwide incubators for new, cutting-edge art. Though the festival has an international outlook and reputation, it also showcases Manchester stories and talent.

New York Times

Despite challenging circumstances, Manchester International Festival makes a welcome return to the city this July. While Festival Square remains the traditional heart of the 18-day event (for this edition you’ll find it in Cathedral Gardens due to renovations at Manchester Town Hall), the hotspot for events is Manchester Central, right here on the Oxford Road Corridor.

MIF launched in 2007 as an artist-led festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture. Over the years, the biennial event has become more than just another event in Manchester’s cultural calendar, cementing itself as an arts festival of international significance.

In what is presumably a clever way to outmanoeuvre COVID and deliver a safe festival experience, much of this year’s programme will be hosted in the spacious Manchester Central convention centre. Headline acts include long-time MIF collaborator Damon Albarn, returning this year with the help of RNCM in support of his new album The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows. Rooted in Rhyme is a celebration of Manchester hip-hop with Unity Radio. All of This Unreal Time is an intriguing commission that brings together Aoife McArdle, Jon Hopkins, Max Porter and Cillian Murphy in an event that has the potential to steal the festival. Then there’s Arlo Parks, you’ve heard the endless hype on 6Music, now’s your chance to catch the London-born singer-songwriter live in concert.

There are of course more MIF events across Oxford Road Corridor at HOME, the Whitworth and Central Library and elsewhere across the city. It’s been a difficult year for arts and event organisations, but it’s encouraging to see Manchester International Festival return without missing a beat. 

What’s On

MIF takes place across central Manchester, but many of this year’s biggest events are right here on Oxford Road Corridor.

performance MIF21: Notes on Grief
Manchester Central | 5 – 17 July 2021

Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s words, Notes on Grief is a powerful reflection on family, love and loss journeys from page to stage in Rae McKen’s new production.

music MIF21: Laurent Garnier: Off the Record
Manchester Central | 11 July 2021

Techno pioneer and Haçienda legend Laurent Garnier joins Manchester International Festival for the UK premiere of Off the Record, a film about club culture, and the part that he played in it over an extraordinary 30-year career.

music MIF21: Damon Albarn
Manchester Central | 13 July 2021

Damon Albarn returns to MIF to perform a rare solo set spanning his extensive songbook, including his latest project The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows.

music MIF21: The Patience of Trees
Manchester Central | 16 July 2021

A new work by composer Dobrinka Tabakova is at the heart of The Patience of Trees, an intimate concert inspired by the healing potential and power of the natural world.

music MIF21: Homecoming
Manchester Central | 17 July 2021

As part of a new collaboration, MIF and Homecoming present a showcase of exciting new African music at Manchester Central.

music MIF21: Rooted in Rhyme
Manchester Central | 10 July 2021

MIF team up with Unity Radio and Manchester Hip Hop Archive to bring us the present and future of hip hop.

performance MIF21: Captioning the City
Across Manchester | 1 – 18 July 2021

Captioning the City asks audiences to stop, take a moment and experience Manchester in a new dimension through this captivating public artwork.

More Culture On The Corridor

While MIF dominates the cultural landscape this July, there’s still plenty of other cultural events and places to visit in between

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cinema Imran Perretta: the destructors
The Whitworth | 19 May – 19 December 2021

The Whitworth presents Imran Perretta: the destructors, a new 2-screen film exploring personal and collective experiences of marginalisation and oppression.

music Un-Convention
The Ritz | 8 – 9 July 2021

The 106th edition of Un-Convention will take place at the 02 Ritz, right here on the Oxford Road Corridor this July, focusing on the lessons learnt from a difficult year for the music industry.

theatre Saturnalia
ProjektsMCR | 8 – 10 July 2021

Contact presents a new show at ProjektsMCR that will transport audiences into an underground world of bass, politics and belonging – rising from the ashes of our brand-new world.

Food & Drink

There’s always plenty of good places to eat and drink on Oxford Road Corridor, many places will allow walk-ins, but again, check before making a special visit.

An image of bikes locked up outside the venue Gorilla

Since opening in 2012, Gorilla has proved itself as Manchester’s definitive mid-sized modern gig venue and one of the city’s best bar and kitchens.

A dish from WOOD Manchester
WOOD Manchester

WOOD Manchester offers one of the city’s best fine dining experiences, from the locally-loved winner of 2015 MasterChef winner Simon Wood.

The Refuge

The Refuge, at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, is a luxurious, modern restaurant, housed in a magnificent, Alfred Waterhouse designed, Victorian brick and terracotta building offers 10,000 sq ft of drinking and dining for everyone and anyone with the instruction “Come As You Are”.

photo of roof terrace at big hands
Big Hands

Big Hands at the South end of Oxford Road may be small, but it comes with added rock n’ roll swagger, a great atmosphere and a lovely roof garden.

Photo of an Indian dish from zouk tea bar and grill
Zouk Tea Bar and Grill

Zouk Tea Bar and Grill is a modern, exciting restaurant, serving up some of the very best Indian-Pakistani cuisine in Manchester.

Cocktails at Bunny Jackson's
Bunny Jackson’s Juke Joint

Bunny Jackson’s is a late-night music venue, dive bar and American diner on First Street. Expect cocktails, cold beer and chicken wings.

internal shot of the brightly coloured decor at indian tiffin room on first street
Indian Tiffin Room

Charming and homely, the Indian Tiffin Room brings this classic Indian dish to First Street.

The Briton’s Protection

An iconic pub with an impressive whiskey list running into the hundreds. A welcoming atmosphere and a sprawling beer garden.

The bar area of The Font in Manchester one of the bars and pubs on oxford road
The Font

The Font Manchester is a cracking bar found just off Oxford Road on New Wakefield St where it’s been for over 20 years.

Green Spaces

The summer months are the best time to enjoy the green spaces on Oxford Road Corridor

People enjoying the sun in All Saints Park Manchester Oxford Road Corridor
All Saints Park

All Saints Park is a beautiful green space in the heart of the Oxford Road Corridor. Perfect for a quick moment of calm on a busy day.

A squirrel eating a nut in Whitworth Park on Oxford Road in Manchester
Whitworth Park

This 18-acre park opposite the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust is an eye-catching green space and home to the Whitworth Art Gallery.

A person with headphones on enjoying the sun in Bruswick Park
Brunswick Park

Enjoy views of some of the best architecture in Manchester in this green space which was opened in 2018 by The University of Manchester.