Food fest, Grimm fest, Lit fest, Oktoberfest - it's a bit of a Fest fest

MANCHESTER FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL - Citywide, 28 September-9 October

As Manchester’s restaurant scene continues to explode, it’s unsurprising that MFDF attracts hungry hordes numbering over 90,000. First conceived to ‘show the rest of the nation there was more to Manchester dining than the stereotypes that existed at the time’, it has since morphed into a culinary showcase of much worldlier proportions - much like the city’s hospitality scene itself. Highlights for 2017 (its 20th year) span bespoke menus to live cookery theatre and the popular Festival Square; full line-up here

Various; check the website

JOURNEYS FESTIVAL - Citywide, 2-15 October

What with all the negative publicity surrounding immigration, this nationwide festival - celebrating the artwork, music, culture and experiences that refugee artists bring to the UK - offers a refreshing alternative perspective. From outdoor exhibitions on a 20ft shipping container to a theatrical takeover of Manchester Museum and a musical weekender at Cathedral Gardens, the programme is as diverse as the creative minds behind it. And most of it’s free. 

Various; check the website

150910 Mfdf Launch 005
MFDF hub on Albert Square

HIDDEN TALES - Rochdale, 3-28 October

Combining inspiring tales of tackling adversity with an innovative digital arts trail, Hidden Tales is a project between CAN (Community Arts North West) and Petrus - a charity in Rochdale working with people who are homeless or at risk. Using smart phone codes found in public spaces, journey into remarkable stories; spanning a professional horticulturalist who learned his trade through illegal marijuana cultivation to a nun whose encounters with tragedy inspired her to help the vulnerable. Expect dark humour, unlikely strength and startling honesty. 

Pick up a map from Touchstones, The Esplanade, Rochdale, OL16 1AQ (Tues-Sat 10am-5pm; free).

GRIMMFEST - Vue Printworks, 5-8 October

Besieging the Printworks for one long wicked weekend, Grimmfest returns for its boldest and bloodiest programme yet. Sponsored by the Horror Channel, this year’s frightful film programme spans world premieres to cult comedies and Gothic classics. From Borley Rectory director Ashley Thorpe to The Bride’s Vladislav Severtsev and Attack of the Adult Babies’ actress Joanne Mitchell, there’s also a lively guest list.  

Vue Printworks, 27 Withy Grove, M4 2BS (various times; tickets from £8 at

Grimmfest Manchester


Founded in 2006, as a successor to the Manchester Poetry Festival, MLF is now one of the UK’s foremost literary festivals. From Booker prize-winners to rising stars, world literature to new commissions, highlights this year include Comma Press’ Refugee Tales, an evening with award-winning writer Howard Jacobson, the Manchester Cathedral Poetry Prize and Reni Eddo-Lodge on her critically-acclaimed book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. For more bookish bits, don’t miss Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival later this month.

Various; check the website


After a successful inaugural event last year, Neighbourhood again sees 100 artists hit ten venues for one day of metropolitan music; headlined by Peace and Rat Boy. Other artists include Cabbage, The Amazons, Jaws and Billie Marten, while venues span Albert Hall to The Refuge and Gorilla. The event kicks off with an exclusive opening party featuring Blossoms with Joe Duddell and RNCM ensemble.

Various times & venues; tickets £30 at

2017 08 16 Blossoms
Blossoms will open the Neighbourhood Festival

DESIGN MANCHESTER - Citywide, 11-22 October  

Talks, exhibitions, workshops, films, a design fair, citywide parties…Design Manchester may have received over 40,000 visitors last year but DM17 isn’t resting on its laurels, as over 50 events illustrate. Alongside staples like the Design Weekender, this year’s episode includes everything from diversity in the creative industries to an interactive ‘imaginarium’ at the BBC.

Various; check the website

GREAT NORTHERN CONTEMPORARY CRAFT FAIR - Upper Campfield Market Hall, 12-15 October

With over 150 selected designer-makers, GNCCF has a piece for everyone; from fine jewellery to functional homeware, statement accessories to unique prints. Mediums include ceramics, glass, jewellery, interior and fashion textiles, wood, paper, silver, metal, product design, print-making and more and - when all that browsing starts to make you feel peckish - there’s an onsite café too. 

Upper Campfield Market Hall (via Campfield Arcade), M3 4FN (various times; tickets from £6.50 advance or £7.50 on the door)

170209 Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
Find a statement piece at GNCCF

THE CHANTEUSE SINGS MODIANO - Sacred Trinity Church, Friday 13 October

For Lucy Hope, a powerful singer who has engaged with several musical genres, her album of Patrick Modiano songs is a labour of love. The Nobel Prize-winning novelist penned pop lyrics as a sideline in the sixties, notably for Francoise Hardy, and Manchester’s own Chanteuse brings them to contemporary life in this very special launch concert at Salford’s Sacred Trinity - supported by electrifying string quartet Manchester Collective. In true French style, wine and liqueurs will be on sale on the night.

Sacred Trinity Church, Chapel Street, Salford, M3 5DW (7-11.30pm; tickets £13.50 at 

DASHEHRA DIWALI MELA - Albert Square, Saturday 14 October

Coupling the Hindu festivals of Dashehra - which commemorates the killing of the ten-headed demon King Ravan by Lord Ram - and Diwali ‘Festival of Lights’, this colourful celebration gives Albert Square the Bollywood treatment for one night only: from Bhangra dance to fireworks, lantern processions and a spectacular finale from arts organisation Walk the Plank - whose portfolio also includes Manchester Day and Pride. A magical evening guaranteed. 

Albert Square, M2 4JW (2-9pm; free). 

2017 09 28 Dashehra Diwali Mela
Drummers at Dashehra Diwali Mela

OKTOBERFEST - Albert Square, 18-22 October

Get your dirndl and lederhosen ready, Albert Square will soon be transformed into a traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest with live traditional oompah music and German beer served up in giant two-pint glasses. Alongside a 2000-seater party, there’ll be an open-air beer garden and pop-up village selling the likes of twisted-knot bread, bratwurst, schnitzel and German-style roast pork. One boozy bonanza not enough? Others this month include Didsbury Beer Festival and Hanging Ditch Wine Fair.

MANCHESTER FOLK FESTIVAL - Various, 19-21 October

This month may see the farewell of A Carefully Planned Festival but, such is the pace of Manchester’s music scene, another fest has already sprung up in its place. With over sixteen concerts featuring more than 30 artists, Manchester Folk Festival - the successor of Bury’s Homegrown - is the only festival dedicated to promoting and supporting new English folk and acoustic music. Alongside the English Folk Expo, there’s also a quirky strand of events spanning clog dancing to spoon whittling, puppetry and a sing-along at The Britons Protection. 

Various; check the website

Oktoberfest, Albert Square


MSF is back with a crash, bang and resounding wallop - featuring eleven days of 100+ events, from an interactive race against time to robot armies and a partnership with Dinosaurs in the Wild: a brand new multimillion-pound attraction that combines dramatic storytelling, high-end digital graphics and animatronics to create a believable prehistoric world. Check out our MSF highlights here

Various; check the website

ENLIGHTEN - Bury, 20-21 October 

Another festival transformation this year is Bury’s popular Light Night - now ENLIGHTEN. Hosted by arts producers Curated Place and Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre, this will be a two-day extravaganza of experimental world music, surprising performances and interactive sound and light installations: from Paul Friedlander’s kinetic light harp to Owl Project’s synthesiser and Impossible’s animated globe.

Bury town centre (6pm-2am; light installations free, music ticketed). 

170209 Robots Msf 3
Robots is coming to Manchester as part of MSF

BUY ART FAIR - Manchester Central, 27-29 October

Already the country’s largest and most prestigious art fair outside London, Buy Art Fair is gearing up for an even bigger event this autumn as it takes up new residence in Manchester Central. As well as 100 exhibiting galleries and artists, there’ll be talks, demos and the first ever citywide Fringe - not to mention the Manchester Contemporary, which boasts its biggest line-up yet. What’s more, Confidential readers can bag free tickets using the promotional code ‘Gordo.’

Manchester Central, Windmill Street, M2 3GX (various times). 

2017 09 28 Buy Art Fair
Buy Art Fair is moving to Manchester Central