Corridor of Light will be twinkling in October for three nights only

It used to be that the best you could do for a bit of sparkle on Oxford Road was the glow of the lights from queues of buses. 

Now we can all bask in the radiance of a new festival of light, heading to Manchester’s "Corridor" area. A veritable galaxy of brand new visual arts commissions, installations and live entertainment will lighten the road from 6-10pm nightly for the inaugural Corridor of Light cultural event.

The event will be entirely free to attend and bring together artists, writers, students, poets and performers, to tell their stories of Oxford Road.

There is certainly no better metaphor for the hope and inspiration we all need to emerge from dark times

For those thinking "wait a minute, what the hell is the Corridor?" - it's the name dreamed up for Manchester’s innovation district, home to a group of "knowledge-intensive" organisations and businesses. These include the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester City Council, the research hospitals, Bruntwood, Manchester Science Partnerships, HOME, and the Royal Northern College of Music. 

The Corridor of Light event has been created in partnership with many of these world-class venues and institutions, bringing together a blend of art, technology and science. It promises to "champion the transformative and powerful role arts and culture can play to support communities". There is certainly no better metaphor for the hope and inspiration we all need to emerge from dark times.

Where There Is Light Credit Mikal Ludlow Www Mikalludlow
Where There is Light by Squidsoup Mikal Ludlow

Corridor of Light 2021 opens with the arrival of Recovery Poems at Manchester Central Library, accompanied by choral singing from LGBTQ+ low voice choir The Sunday Boys in the library’s Reading Room. There will then be a performance of two new stanzas for Made in Manchester, a community poem in 65 different languages.  

A highlight of the festival will be when award-winning pioneers of outdoor art Walk the Plank (who work on the annual Manchester Day parade) collaborate with HOME to bring The Fire Garden to the former site of Homeground. Think of it as an early, artsy Bonfire Night as paths are lined with flaming torches. 

Tim Etchells Wait Here Reflection Corridor Of Light Manchester
Work by Tim Etchells Mikal Ludlow

Fans of neon signs will be entranced by the world premiere of artist Tim Etchells’ new work, which will appearing on the bridge high above Booth Street East. Etchells’ work is a playful intervention that asks us to think about language, the city and the present moment.

An artwork which builds on the Corridor's technological pedigree is Algorave, a combination of ‘algorithms’ and ‘rave’ – ie coding and clubbing the opportunity to dance to alien rhythms and freaky visuals, all created from code displayed and created before your eyes.

For one night only on Friday 22 October there is also the chance to join some of the scene’s frontrunners to experience the human side of algorithms, with live algorave performances from some of its key coders and collectives. Look we aren't entirely sure either but go along and we think you'll be impressed.

Stories Under Our Feet Out Central Library Manchester
The Stories Under Our Feet by Elisa Artesero Mikal Ludlow

Outside Central Library, Manchester-based artist Elisa Artesero has installed The Stories Under Our Feet; a collection of short poems spelled out in light beneath the benches surrounding the building. 

At Number 70 Oxford Street, comic artists Sayra Begum, Ian Bobb and  Francis Desharnais transform the windows of the former Cornerhouse building into a giant comic strip for The New Arrival, each representing a UNESCO City of Literature. 

Two new installations at the Royal Northern College of Music showcase the state-of-the-art technology within Studio 8, the conservatoire’s brand new digital studio. Social arts practice May Wild Studio and RNCM’s international students have created an innovative, participatory work in the building’s long window, exploring experiences of living and studying nearby, while a new installation merging the recorded sounds of Oxford Road, spoken word and electronic music immerses listeners in enveloping surround sound – either in Studio 8 itself or as they walk down the Corridor. 

Further down the Corridor, the curved surface of University Place (known by students as the "tin can") becomes a canvas for a new video by artist and curator Antonio Roberts, Move Fast and Brake Things

Contact’s windows will be lit up with images of Manchester artist and theatre-maker Chanje Kunda as part of Black Gold Arts Festival. The images feature Chanje’s new film Plant Fetish, which is premiering at the festival. Contact will also be open during Corridor of Light to give audiences a taste of its new cafe and bar, following a major building redevelopment and expansion.

Visit for more information. All events are free though some may need to be booked.

Antonio Roberts By Marcinsz Com @marcin Sz Photographer
Antonio Roberts Marcin Sz

Corridor of Light at a glance

  • A major new commission from award-winning artist, writer and Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment Tim Etchells, transforming the Booth Street East bridge
  • Algoraves, a coding meets clubbing phenomenon that’s travelled to over 80 cities globally, coming to Hatch, including live performances from co-founder Alex McLean and new media artist Antonio Roberts
  • Recovery Poems, a 3m high light poem by artists Deanna Rodger and Robert Montgomery, travelling to a dozen different locations along the Oxford Road Corridor
  • Outdoor art pioneers Walk the Plank transforming the former site of Homeground into an otherworldly Fire Garden, in collaboration with HOME
  • Manchester’s newest neighbourhood, Circle Square, which will be bathed in the spectacle of thousands of spots of light, emanating from Studio Vertigo’s giant, heart-shaped mirror ball installation, Our Beating Heart
  • Award-winning artist collective Squidsoup presenting Where There Is Light, at the Holy Name Church, an immersive sound and light installation co-commissioned by ArtReach for Journeys Festival International 2021
  • For Move Fast and Brake Things, the curved surface of University Place becomes a vast canvas for a new video inspired by the first computer to store and run a programme
  • Acclaimed poets Hafsah Aneela Bashir, Reshma Ruia and Andrew McMillan have written new works for Corridor of Light, inspired by Oxford Road
  • The RNCM revealing Studio 8, a brand-new digital studio and the first Meyer Constellation system in higher education, with two new site-specific installations, one of which will be created by May Wild Studio alongside RNCM’s international students.

Read now: Fat Out Fest returns to Salford for Halloween music and visual arts extravaganza

Read next: The ultimate guide to cheap food for students in Manchester

Don't miss out

Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email.