The MIF is returning with a bang this summer, providing an itinerary packed with exciting and exclusive events including a life-size Big Ben in Piccadilly Gardens and performances from rock icon, Patti Smith.

The Manchester International Festival is an arts festival, with a focus on original new creative work, hosted in multiple venues around the city.

This year, the arts festival has got some fantastic events in store for us, here’s just a few on the line-up:

Patti Smith Quartet

The New York musician, writer, poet and icon will be crossing the Atlantic for her first gigs since the pandemic – a Manchester exclusive!

The ‘Because The Night’ singer will be attending MIF for the first time accompanied by her band – drummer Seb Rochford, bassist Tony Shanahan and her son Jackson Smith on guitar for a special two-night stand.

Patti Smith – Horses

Big Ben in Piccadilly Gardens

Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books is the first major UK commission by Argentine artist Marta Minujín.

Minujín creates contemporary large-scale artworks, with this installation of Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books for MIF invites us to re-imagine national symbols, enabling us to reflect on democracy and equality.

All Of This Unreal Time

A new film and immersive installation starring Peaky Blinders Cillian Murphy for a MIF21 World Premiere.

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I came out here to apologise. You know. I find myself, at the midpoint of my life, in a dark wood, and now I’m here, in the forest of my mind, and every tree is shame, every living thing is a reprimand, and I realise, I must speak freely now, before I lose you.”

Directed by Aoife McArdle and written by Max Porter, All of This Unreal Time is presented as an immersive installation in surround sound.


“Arcadia is a development and reimagining of Deborah Warner’s 2012 project Peace Camp, created for the London 2012 Festival with Fiona Shaw, Mel Mercier and John Del’ Nero, and produced by Artichoke for the London 2012 Festival and Derry–Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013.”

Arcadia is an installation with the intent to present it’s visitors with rich poetry from the likes of Sappho, John Clare, Sabrina Mahfouz and more.

Arcadia invites us to consider the relationship between the urban and the rural, the town and the country, the natural and the manufactured – and to reflect on our own personal connections with them all.

Sea Change

For the event’s opening night, French choreographer Boris Charmatz has organised a large-scale dance with 150 Greater Manchester locals to perform on Deansgate.

Created exclusively for MIF, the dance will be a joyous celebration of togetherness in a post-lockdown society.

Apply to take part here –

Portrait of Black Britain

What does it mean to be black in the UK?

Artist, photographer, activist, speaker and campaigner Cephas Williams begs the question with a major public exhibition for Manchester International Festival in the Arndale Shopping Centre.

Williams showcases the beauty in identity and diversity, describing the exhibition as “a powerful and positive affirmation that Black Lives Matter: not just in news stories about trauma or tragedy, nor just during Black History Month – but every day.