From MIF to Bluedot, Pretty Muddy to the Colour Run, this month is looking like a belter


Back with a new artistic director and all creative guns blazing, Manchester International Festival promises eighteen extraordinary days of original work from around the world - taking in everything from New Order to post-apocalypse dinner party skills and even an opera for babies. Albert Square will again become Festival Square for MIF17; hosting live music, talks with the likes of Jah Wobble and food and drink aplenty. Full line-up hereVarious; check the website

MANCHESTER COLOUR RUN | Etihad Campus | 1 July

The Colour Run, also known as ‘The Happiest 5K on the Planet,’ is coming to Manchester this July. Combining healthiness, happiness and individuality, the untimed event has no winners or prizes - but runners are showered with coloured powder at stations along the run and even faced with DJs on completion. Grab your tutus, your friends and your running shoes, and we’ll see you at the start line… Etihad Campus, M11 3FF (11am; tickets from £26 at 

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Colour Run


Priding itself on showcasing emerging performers, the Fringe traverses comedy, drama and everything in between - some genres admittedly more niche than others. With many past productions moving onto established theatres, it’s a unique preview into some of the region’s most promising future talent. Anticipated highlights include brutally funny Katharine Ferns (Katharine Ferns is in Stitches), Mr Millerman’s harrowing Forever Changes and highly-acclaimed Much Ado About Nothing. Various; check the website 

SPARK | Citywide | 3-7 July

SPARK is curated by pioneering new trans theatre company Trans Creative and developed in association with national transgender charity Sparkle. Involving over 25 multi-disciplinary transgender artists of local and national acclaim, it takes place from 3-7 July citywide with events including BFI Flare Film Festival, the ‘Mangina Monologues’ and an extravagant Vegas-themed closing party. Festivities continue from 7-9 July with the annual Sparkle Weekend. Various; check the website

Flare Festival Grand Applause Web
Grand Applause, Flare Festival

FLARE FESTIVAL | Citywide | 4-8 July

The international festival of new theatre is back, with everything from blind cinema to Nazi deserters and a utopian simulation of a night out. Taking place over five days, this year’s Flare promises to be the best yet, with ‘around 60 of the best new international theatre artists’ congregating in Manchester for a programme packed with challenging, exciting and innovative performance. Venues taking part include HOME, Royal Exchange Theatre, The Lowry and Contact: while the Flare Hub will take up the old Cornerhouse building at No. 70 Oxford Street. Full line-up hereVarious; check the website 

BORN HERE OR DRAWN HERE | Twenty Twenty Two | Wednesday 5 July

Taking inspiration from Longfella’s poem This Is the Place, Manchester based creative agency Equator is hosting a one-off fundraising evening for the Red Cross’ We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. Twenty Twenty Two plays host to the action, which will see Equator’s creatives go head to head in pixel battles against the backdrop of live graffiti, acoustic sets and DJs. There will also be artwork on sale (including limited edition prints and crafts), alongside bespoke cocktails, food and a luxury raffle. Twenty Twenty Two, 20 Dale Street, M1 1EZ (4-12pm; free entry). 

MANIFEST ARTS FESTIVAL | Citywide | 5-9 July

After a successful pilot in 2015, Manifest Arts Festival returns with over 250 North West artists: from special exhibitions to open studios, talks to performances and even its very own official ‘ManifestTea’ - a herbaceous, heady brew which will be able to sample at independent cafes across Manchester. From Japanese flower arranging to hacked figurines from local charity shops, expect an eclectic programme with all but one event free to attend. Various; check the website 

BLUEDOT | Jodrell Bank | 7-9 July

After a stratospheric 2016 debut, Bluedot beams back into Jodrell Bank Observatory for another innovative fusion of art and science. Headlining this year’s music line-up are indie rockers alt-J, electronic dance duo Orbital and alt-rock band Pixies while scientists will be discussing everything from aliens to volcanology. Elsewhere find comedy, cosmic culture and a film strand spanning Moomins to Star Wars. Worry not, G’Astronomy Village will be keeping appetites sated throughout - and CAMRA will be on hand too, with a real ale festival tent. Jodrell Bank Observatory, Bomish Lane, Cheshire, SK11 9DW (various times; tickets from £59 at 

170628 Bluedot

PRETTY MUDDY | Heaton Park | Saturday 8 July

Race for Life is back to beat cancer, with fundraising events throughout the summer: from 5K to 10K, marathons to relays and even hiking. Arguably one of the most popular, though, is Pretty Muddy - with obstacles like slides, mud pits and durdles promising maximum entertainment (and maximum mess). Crawl, climb, charge and conquer the A-frame as you navigate the 5K course, which generally takes 40 minutes to an hour. Fancy more of a challenge? This year sees the first ever 10K Pretty Muddy at Tatton Park. Heaton Park, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 0BW (from 10am; tickets from £10 at 


Manchester Three Rivers Gin is produced by master distiller Dave Rigby, using a custom-made copper pot still by master maker by Arnold Holstein. Don Giovanni, meanwhile, is the oldest independently-owned Italian in Manchester and has scooped awards from the likes of Les Routiers. This evening combining the two, then, promises to be a treat. Learn how Three Rivers came to be and what makes it special while sampling two signature G&Ts, accompanied by Don Gio’s Italian sharing boards, before rounding off with a gin-drenched dessert. Wine more your thing? Don’t miss a special #ukwinehourlive in the splendid surrounds of Chetham’s Baronial Hall. Don Giovanni, Peter House, 1-2 Oxford Street, M1 5AN (7pm; tickets from £12 at 

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Don Giovanni

PARKLIVES | Citywide | Various  

No not Parklife, that’s been and gone for this year, with more glitter and fishnet tights than a night on a Canal Street. This is Parklives, an initiative (ironically from Coca Cola) designed to get people healthy, active and enjoying the great outdoors with free sessions in parks citywide: from weekend workouts in Alexandra Park to Thai Chi in Platt Fields and Nordic walking in Chortlon Water Park. Parents can even enjoy ‘buggy bootcamps.’ What with it being Love Parks Week too, from 14-23 July, what better time to get involved? Various; check the website 

BLACKTHORN FESTIVAL | Etherow | 21-23 July

The aforementioned Parklife may have passed but, for those who enjoy their music fests with a side of greenery, there’s plenty to get stuck into yet. Starting off life as a university leaving party four years ago, Blackthorn has now grown to be a calendar staple, promising a plethora of local music talent - plus dedicated areas for live art, acoustic acts and installations - amongst the picturesque Cheshire countryside.  This year, glampers can even take advantage of ‘posh loos’ and hot showers. Acts include Jess Kemp, False Advertising and Argh Kid while food for veggies and non-veggies alike will be provided by the likes of Oh my Glaze and Streatza Pizza. For more great festivals in the ‘burbs, don’t miss The Big Grill in Bury and Northern Grip at Rossendale. Whitebottom Farm, Etherow Country Park, Compstall, Stockport, SK6 5HZ (various times; tickets from £20 at

Blackthorn Festival

REFRACT: 17 | Waterside Arts Centre | 21-30 July

A brand new experimental summer programme from Waterside Arts Centre, Refract’s catchphrase is ‘to see things differently.’ From an evening of stand up with Dead Ringers star Jan Raven to Guy Masterson’s acclaimed theatrical solo Under Milk Wood and flamenco jazz fusion from virtuoso Spanish guitarist Eduardo Niebla, the ten-day extravaganza also boasts plenty for children. Baby raves, theatre in a nest, even music vegetables…one for all the family. 

Waterside Arts Centre, 1 Waterside, Sale M33 7ZF (various times & prices; check the website). 

MANCHESTER JAZZ FESTIVAL | Citywide | 28 July - 6 August

Europe’s most adventurous jazz festival is back for its 22nd innings, celebrating #jazz100 - the 2017 centenary of the first jazz recording – with 100 gigs (the most ever) and 100 hours of exceptional entertainment, from world premieres to local gems and hands-on music-making for all ages. Highlights include Dave Maric’s Decade Zero, with acclaimed piano trio Phronesis and the award-winning Engines Orchestra, not to mention the Salon Perdu - one of few circular Art Deco venues left in the world - which will host a series of exclusive performances in Albert Square. 

Various; check the website 

MCM COMIC CON | Manchester Central | 29-30 July

Whether a cosplay aficionado or not, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Comic Con: they are the UK’s biggest modern pop culture events after all. Wacky costumes are a given, but they’re just a fraction of what’s on offer: comic village, dealer stalls, vidfest (‘a celebration of all things online video and social’)… Special guests for 2017 include bestselling authors Simon Scarrow and Lee Francis, and actor Manu Bennett (Arrow, The Hobbit, Spartacus). 

Manchester Central, Windmill Street, M2 3GX (Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9am-5pm; tickets from £11 at 

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Comic Con Manchester