9 Manchester cultural events you shouldn’t miss in 2020

Manchester Food & Drink Festival

Although we’re only a few weeks into the new year, there’s already plenty lined up to keep Mancunians entertained until Christmas.

There’s several events already in full swing, and some that have become an annual tradition in Manchester – we’ve listed nine key events for your diary, including art exhibitions, music festivals, and theatre.

1. Art of the Brick

The Great Northern Warehouse: 22nd November – 20th April
Website: aotbmanchester.co.uk

Art of the Brick exhibition, Manchester

An exhibition for all the family, Art of the Brick opened at the Great Northern Warehouse in November, and will stay in Manchester until mid-April.

The attraction is made up of more than one million pieces of Lego, which form over 90 individual art pieces. Each installation is destined to wow, and has spent several years touring the world, previously appearing in London around five years ago.

As well as stunning Lego creations on show, there’s also an interactive playzone featuring an abundance of lego pieces for those of all ages to make their own designs out of.

2. Manchester Open Exhibition

HOME Manchester: 18th January – 29th March
Website: homemcr.org/exhibition/manchester-open

Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME Manchester

The Open Exhibition is an open-entry art show, meaning the work on show hasn’t just come from specific professional artists, but instead a wider community of creatives.

A panel of art experts and community representatives are responsible for choosing the work on show, which was submitted by a large number of Greater Manchester residents. The resulting selection is a huge mix of media types from more than 500 people, including sculpture, photography, painting and more.

The exhibition is hosted at HOME, and is free to enter, remaining open until the end of March.

3. Manchester Irish Festival

Various Locations: 7th-17th March
Website: www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk

As always, St Patrick’s day will bring some excellent Irish events to the city centre. The Manchester Irish Festival takes place for 11 days, with the pinnacle being the parade on Sunday 15th March. Last year’s parade saw participants leave the Irish World Heritage Centre in Cheetham Hill and head to Albert Square in the city centre.

As well as the parade, the period features numerous events across the city, including shows, musical performances, and market stalls.

4. Manchester Jazz Festival

Various Locations: 21st-25th May
Website: manchesterjazz.com

The popular annual jazz festival returns in May this year for its 25th edition, with the anniversary set to be celebrated in style.

First launching in 1996, the festival has seen numerous changes over the decades, with it last year moving from its traditional home of outside Manchester Town Hall to St Ann’s Square, with venues across the city also hosting individual events.

The full programme is yet to be announced for 2020, with details likely to come out over the next couple of months. However, last year’s festival included artists such as Sarah Tandy, Orphy Robinson, Andy Scott and more – with 2020 being the 25th festival, the line-up is expected to be even more stellar.

5. Parklife

Heaton Park: 13th-14th June
Website: parklife.uk.com

Heaton Park, Manchester

Originating as the “Mad Ferret Festival” in Platt Fields Park, Rusholme in 2010, Parklife has been running in its current form every year since 2012, bringing together artists from various genres for a weekend of top quality music.

Last year saw Mark Ronson and George Ezra headlining the weekend, with artists including Blossoms, AJ Tracey, The Streets and Khalid also performing at the event.

2020’s line-up hasn’t yet been announced, but with other previous headliners including Liam Gallagher, The 1975, The Chemical Brothers, and Example, it’s sure to be another great weekend for music fans.

6. Sounds of the City

Castlefield Bowl: 1st-11th July

Castlefield Bowl Manchester

Every July, the unique Castlefield Bowl venue becomes the host of a series of headline gigs from various artists, with Sounds of the City becoming a regular, popular event on the music calendar.

Sounds of the City 2020 begins on Wednesday 1st July, with headliners Foals joined by Everything Everything. The next night sees recently reunited Australian band Crowded House stop off in Manchester as part of their 2020 UK tour, while Friday night features joint headliners Kaiser Chiefs and Razorlight. The first week of shows ends with The Beautiful South’s Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott returning to the bowl for the first time since 2016, when they headlined the event when it was under the name Summer in the City.

Sounds of the City resumes on 8th July with Lewis Capaldi, who dominated charts in 2019, followed by DMS’s, The Blinders and The Lathums on 9th July. On 10th July, Mike Skinner AKA The Streets will be in Castlefield, with the event wrapping up on 11th July with Hacienda Classical, who make their third consecutive annual appearance with their unique brand of entertainment.

7. The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival

Various locations: 1st-31st July
Website: greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

Every year, the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival takes place throughout the month of July, and offers a platform for smaller theatre productions and lesser known comedians to entertain. The full programme is yet to be announced, but several shows are already confirmed, as usual taking place in a different variety of venues, including the Kings Arms on Bloom Street and The Empty Space in Salford.

Already announced shows include comedy from Will Preston and Hannah Platt, and productions that explore topics including mental health, tourettes, and drag queens.

There’s something for everyone, with plenty more to be announced over the coming months.

8. Manchester Pride

Various locations: 28th-31st August
Website: www.manchesterpride.com

The 2019 Manchester Pride weekend saw major changes to the organisation of events, with celebrations moving to the former Mayfield Depot near Piccadilly Station, where artists including Ariana Grande, Emeli Sande, and Years & Years performed in The Yard as part of “Manchester Pride Live”.

The event is expected to return for a second year as part of 2020’s Pride weekend, which will also feature the usual event staples, including a parade through the city centre, and the candlelit vigil at Sackville Gardens.

9. Manchester Food & Drink Festival

Various Locations, Dates TBC
Website: foodanddrinkfestival.com

Manchester Food & Drink Festival

Now in its 23rd year, the Manchester Food and Drink Festival takes place annually, usually around September/October time.

Full details are yet to be announced for the 2020 installment as of yet, but there’s likely to be plenty to entertain food-lovers.

In 2019, the event had multiple events over the course of the festival, with the main hub being located at Cathedral Gardens, where you could find numerous street food stalls, and a tent with a bar and live entertainment. There were also numerous cooking demonstrations in the event’s “dining dome”, from esteemed local chefs and restaurateurs.

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