Queer Contact 2023

The Cocoa Butter Club

Contact celebrates queer culture with an extraordinary line-up of LGBTQ+ talent heading our way for Queer Contact 2023

Contact continues its 50th anniversary celebrations with the 2023 edition of Queer Contact – a celebration of the UK’s most extraordinary LGBTQ+ talent. Queer Contact 2023 is a bigger, brighter, bolder and more beautiful celebration of fierce and fabulous queer artists, with something for everybody. Festival highlights include Drag Show UK’s talented queens Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister, an evening in conversation with Heartstopper and Cucumber actor and Contact alumni Fisayo Akinade,and the return of the annual and outrageous Vogue Ball as part of a jam packed programme of spoken word, lip synching, cabaret and comedy.

Kicking off this year’s Festival is a night of high kicks, high camp and high energy as the much-loved House of Suarez Vogue Ball makes a welcome return. Taking place at Manchester Academy, this year’s ball travels back to the glorious decade of disco for a night of glitter and glam MCed by the hostess with the mostess, Rikki Beadle-Blair.

Breakout stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2, Ginny Lemon & Sister Sister make their debut at Queer Contact by trying to bring to the Manchester stage the most disappointing drag show you’ve ever seen.

Heartstopper and Cucumber actor Fisayo Akinade explores the many different elements that have influenced his life and career in another Queer Contact Festival Highlight In Conversation with Contact Artistic Director and CEO Keisha Thompson. She will talk to him about the 50 things that shaped him – inspired by Contact’s celebration of its 50th anniversary.

One of the break out comedy acts from the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the recipient of its inaugural David Johnson Emerging Talent Award for his performance as Milly-Liu comedy performer François Pandolfo makes his debut at this year’s Queer Contact with his “one-man-cat-drag-late-night comedy show.”

Our flagship queer arts festival has been central to our mission and vision for over a decade and will continue to cement our spot on Manchester’s cultural map for many more decades to come. In 2023, as we celebrate our 50th birthday, we’re here to platform a huge spectrum of queer lived experience; focusing on kindness, community and celebration.

Keisha Thompson, Contact CEO and Artistic Director

Two words you thought you may never see in the same sentence, Queer and Tardis, take their place on the Queer Contact programme for a night of Doctor Who-inspired entertainment by Carrot and Friends. Jump aboard the queerest TARDIS in time and space for cosmic comedy. As the saying goes there ain’t no party like a Time Lord party.

For lovers of Drag, Queer Contact 2023 is also delighted to bring drag comedian, Lady Bushra to the stage. Hailed from the exotic land of Bradford, and shortlisted for the 2021 BBC New Comedy Awards, Lady Bushra is the brainchild of British Asian comedian Amir. His alter ego Lady Bushra is known for her stand-up comedy, ingenious lipsync performances and one-liners.

Other cabaret and comedy highlights include a night with the Cocoa Butter Club – an award-winning performance company, showcasing and celebrating performers of colour. Expect a spirited soiree featuring burlesque, live music, drag, voguing, hula hooping and much much more. South Asian awesomeness is also celebrated with an evening in the company of The Bitter Peach’s Peach Chutney Crew – the UK’s only gender-diverse Pan-Asian cabaret collective, whose mission is to empower the queer Asian community by providing safe spaces, diversifying Asian representation, and educating non-Asians on racial issues. The “Infectiously entertaining”(The Stage) Luke Hereford (he/they) brings their autobiographical musical adventures to Queer Contact on their journey of queer self-discovery through the glamorous spirit of his Nan, all to the tune of Madonna, Kylie, Kate Bush and his favourite pop divas.


What’s On

More Culture On The Corridor

If you’re visiting Oxford Road for Queer Contact, while you’re here, make sure you take the time to explore the rich culture of the area.

The Whitworth Gallery - Parkside
The Whitworth

A visually stunning art gallery located at the heart of Whitworth Park, with a collection containing around 55,000 items.

External shot of the Manchester Museum
Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, is the UK’s largest university museum with a collection of about 4.5 million items from every continent.

External shot of Elizabeth Gaskell's House
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

This beautifully restored Grade II listed villa was once home to Elizabeth Gaskell, one of the UK’s most important Victorian writers.

Exterior Manchester Poetry Library
Manchester Poetry Library

Explore over 10,000 books and recordings at the North West’s first public poetry library, a brand-new addition to Manchester’s literary scene.

Internal image of Palace Theatre Manchester with lights on
Palace Theatre

One of Manchester’s most prominent theatres since it was established in 1891, the Palace brings the best of national and international theatre, music and comedy to the North West.

Exterior HOME Theatre Arts Centre Manchester Oxford Road Corridor

Manchester’s multi-purpose hub of creativity and discovery, bringing together film, theatre, art, and some of the city’s best social spaces.

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Food & Drink

Loaf Oxford St

Head to Loaf on Oxford Street for exceptional sweet treats from a retro-modern bakery adorned in tonal pinks.

HATCH Manchester

Hatch is Manchester’s pop-up retail, food and drink destination on Oxford Road with something for just about everyone. It is a place to shop, eat and drink, 7 days a week at over 30 independent traders.

A glass of beer at Bundobust Brewery
Bundobust Brewery

Bundobust Brewery in the St James Building on Oxford Street is the latest, and arguably the best addition to the ever-growing Bundobust chain.

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”.

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.

An image of a dish at Adam Reid at The French
Adam Reid at The French

Adam Reid brings sublime fine dining renowned across Manchester and beyond for its exquisite flavours and excellent British cuisine.

An image of a sign outside Sandbar on the Oxford Road Corridor

Sandbar, just off Oxford Road in Manchester, is a well-loved watering hole, with a great selection of ales and some eccentric seating.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Exterior of YES music venue in Manchester

Four floors of YES with something for everyone – including a rooftop bar, two live music spaces, a club space, DJs and extensive coffee, street food and bar selection.

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 scene from a club night at Joshua Brooks.
Joshua Brooks

Joshua Brooks reaches its quarter-century stronger than ever, with cutting-edge DJs, dancing, and excitement until the small hours.

An image of an empty O2 Ritz Manchester with an impressive lighting one of the live music venues on the Oxford Road Corridor
O2 Ritz Manchester

Manchester’s original 1920s dancehall – an art deco gem that spans a century of Manchester music history in the heart of the city centre

A packed crowd watch a band at The Deaf Institute
The Deaf Institute

An ever-popular nightclub, bar and affordable street food stop housed in a landmark, Grade II listed building. Come for the unique space, stay for the live music and DJs.