Headliners this year include David Lynch, Phillip Glass, Janelle Monae, Yoko Ono, Idris Elba, Skepta and Maxine Peake

The full programme for Manchester International Festival 2019 (4-21 July) has been revealed during a launch event at Upper Campfield Market.

Joining artist Yoko OnoLuther actor Idris Elba, singer-songwriter Janelle Monae, and grime artist Skepta, who were all announced last year, will be legendary film maker David Lynch, Belgian director Ivo van Hove, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, American composer Phillip Glass, director Hans Ulrich Obrist, and MIF favourite Maxine Peake.

Legendary film maker David Lynch will take over HOME's gallery for the duration of the festival

Artists from over twenty nations will perform at this year's festival, premiering twenty new works including many one-off collaborations created especially for the festival.

Also on the bill this year are director Leo Warner, choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, actor and director Phelim McDermott, composer Emily Howard, actor Kwame Kwei-Arma, poet Michael Symmons Roberts, novelist Adam Thirlwell, singers Abida Parveen and Chrysta Bell, artist Ibrahim Mahama, American choreographer Trajal Harrel and conductor Sir Mark Elder.

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Yoko Ono will open the festival on 4th July with BELLS FOR PEACE

Yoko Ono will open this year's festival with mass-participatory event BELLS FOR PEACE, a 'gathering of thousands of people coming together to ring and sing out for peace' in Cathedral Gardens, while Grammy-nominated Janelle Monae will perform an exclusive open-air concert in Castlefield Bowl on the same night.

Elsewhere, HOME's gallery will be taken over by David Lynch for his first major UK exhibition, My Head Is Disconnected, for the duration of the festival, while Tennessee Williams’ Maggie the Cat will be repurposed for a new dance work by acclaimed American choreographer Trajal Harrel.

David Lynch
David Lynch will take over HOME's gallery for the duration of the festival

Invisible Cities will see Leo Warner of 59 Productions (War Horse, David Bowie Is), acclaimed choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, writer Lolita Chakrabarti and dance company Rambert stage a multi-disciplinary artwork inspired by the famous 1972 novel in Mayfield Depot, while The Fountainhead brings in-demand theatre director Ivo van Hove's Internationaal Theater Amsterdam to The Lowry to perform his 'most controversial work'. 

Manchester history will take centre-stage this year with performances like The Anvil: An Elegy for Peterloo, which marks the landmark 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre, and The Drunk Pandemic, which will see a temporary brewery, inspired by the Manchester cholera epidemic of the 1830s, built in a secret location by Tokyo art collective ChimPom.

You can see the full programme below.

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Invisible Cities, Mayfield Depot

Speaking about this year's line-up, artistic director and chief executive John McGrath said: 

"At MIF19 we see a whole host of artists looking to the future - some with hope, some with imagination and some with concern. We never impose themes on the artists we work with, but it’s striking how this year’s programme reflects our complicated times in often surprisingly joyous and unexpected ways."

Council leader Sir Richard Leese added: "Since its early beginnings in 2005 MIF has attracted thousands of visitors from around the world that bring with them a huge economic boost to the city. The Festival is unrivalled in terms of the calibre of internationally renowned artists, musicians and performers that take part, whilst also inspiring local people themselves to get involved."

John Mcgrath
MIF's artistic director and chief executive John McGrath: "We see a whole host of artists looking to the future"

Joining the artists on the festival line-up will be a number of tops chefs, including Michelin-starred Mark Birchall (Moor Hall) and Lisa Goodwin-Allen (Northcote), Michael Wignall (Angel at Hetton), Steven Smith (Freemasons at Wiswell) and Gary Usher (Hispi, KALA), who will pitching up at the festival hub in Albert Square.

Historic Manchester brewery JW Lees will be on hand in the hub with beer and cocktails, while street food will be dished out by the likes of Firebird Hope, Honest CrustManjit's Kitchen and Paul Heathcote - who has once again overseen the festival's food and drink line-up.

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Festival Square, Albert Square

MIF 2019 programme:


Following the success of MIF17’s award-winning What Is the City But the People?, MIF19 will open with Yoko Ono’s new mass-participatory event BELLS FOR PEACE, a gathering of thousands of people coming together to ring and sing out for peace in Cathedral Gardens, in the heart of the city. 50 years after her early bed-in collaborations with John Lennon, this is a major new commission from an artist who has boldly communicated her commitment to social justice throughout her career.

Cathedral Gardens, 4 July, Free.


Continuing MIF’s innovative use of the city’s found spaces, Invisible Cities sees Leo Warner of 59 Productions (War Horse, David Bowie Is), acclaimed choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, writer Lolita Chakrabarti, Rambert dance company and an all-star creative team, collaborate for the first time on a wholly original mix of theatre, choreography, music, architectural design and projection mapping created for Mayfield, Manchester’s iconic former railway depot. Inspired by the renowned 1972 novel, which is centred on the relationship between Kublai Khan and explorer Marco Polo, this extraordinary new, site-specific work reimagines the possibilities of live performance. 

Mayfield Depot, 2-14 July, £10-35


Also working together for the first time, Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Tree is the story of a young man on a journey of healing, told through dance, music and film - the fulfilment of the pair’s long-held ambition to make a piece of work together inspired by South Africa. Directed by Kwei-Armah, with music inspired by Elba’s album Mi Mandela, Tree is an exhilarating show about identity, family and belonging.

Upper Campfield, 4-13 July, £10-£35

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Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah MIF


Further continuing the Festival’s tradition of creative partnerships: composer Philip Glass and actor-director Phelim McDermott have collaborated on acclaimed opera productions in London, New York and beyond, but Tao of Glass is their most personal project yet. Inspired by a dream, this world premiere marries meditations on life, death and wisdom with ten brand new pieces of music from Glass, presented in the round by McDermott, with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers.

Royal Exchange, 11-20 July, £10-£41


In The Nico Project at The Stoller Hall Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom, and an all-female creative team, pay tribute to the legendary musician with a stirring theatrical immersion into Nico’s sound and identity, inspired by her stark, bleak and beautiful 1968 album The Marble Index. With text by award-winning playwright EV Crowe and music by acclaimed composer Anna Clyne, The Nico Project brings us closer to the ghosts that haunted Nico and celebrates the potency of female creativity in a field dominated by men.

Stoller Hall, 10-21 July, £10-£35

Maxine Peake Mif 2019 Nico Project
Maxine Peake will unite with Sarah Frankcom for The Nico Project MIF


Grime star Skepta’s DYSTOPIA987 steps beyond the live music experience, reimagining the rave culture of the past in an uncertain future with a series of intimate and immersive events held in a secret Manchester location. Skepta will perform along with guest appearances from hand-picked performers, DJs, and a wealth of new technology inhabiting a hidden netherworld.

Secret location, 17-19 July, £10-£35

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The legendary David Lynch is taking over HOME for the duration of MIF19. In the gallery My Head Is Disconnected is the first major UK exhibition of his large-scale paintings, drawings and sculpture. In the theatre Lynch collaborator Chrysta Bell will host a one-off series of live shows from Lynch-inspired musicians, while the cinema will feature screenings of his classic movies, short films, conversations and more.

HOME, 6-21 July, Free

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HOME will become home to David Lynch for 'My Head Is Disconnected'


At Manchester Art Gallery Tania Bruguera, fresh from her Tate Modern commission, invites audiences to join her School of Integration and consider why integration is always the responsibility of the immigrant in a powerful, provocative and inspiring new work. Local people originally from countries around the world will give free classes on a curriculum that includes languages, culture, ethics, politics, economics and many other forms of knowledge in a new shared learning experience.

Manchester Art Gallery, 5-20 July, Free


At the Whitworth, the half-forgotten history of Ghana, is explored in Parliament of Ghosts, a major installation from artist Ibrahim Mahama. This new commission for MIF19 features abandoned train parts, documents from governmental archives and a haunting assemblage of lost objects, rescued and repurposed to form a vast parliamentary chamber in the heart of the gallery.

Whitworth, 5-21 July, Free

The Whitworth
The Whitworth Gallery


In dance, acclaimed American choreographer Trajal Harrell places Tennessee Williams’ Maggie the Cat centre-stage in his magnetic new dance work - a provocative fusion of high art and pop culture, with multiple influences ranging from ancient Greek theatre to the Harlem voguing underground, and a soundtrack that crosses genres, from electro and pop to classical music.

The Dancehouse, 11-14 July, £10-£20


Claire Cunningham’s Thank You Very Much looks at identity through the prism of the Elvis tribute artist as the choreographer and her ensemble of leading disabled performers take to the floor in witty and revealing fashion in a new dance work which takes apart the myth of how bodies should be and have been trained to be.

Ukrainian Culture Centre, 17-20 July, £10-£20 


Women pushing the boundaries of music are a highlight of the MIF19 programme, including  an exclusive show from Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, producer and actress Janelle Monáe on the opening night of MIF19.

Castlefield Bowl, 4 July, £10-£35

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Janelle Monáe will perform at Castlefield Bowl MIF


An exclusive collaboration between the world's greatest spiritual singer, Abida Parveen, and a legend of South Asian dance, Nahid Siddiqui, for one night only at The Lowry. A message of peace, love and harmony from two of the greatest devotional artists alive today

The Lowry, 5 July, £10-£55


Mary Anne Hobbs (BBC Radio 6 Music) brings together five of the most exciting electronic acts for an evening of bleeding-edge sounds and breath-taking visuals: Jlin, Holly Herndon, Aïsha Devi ft. MFO, Klara Lewis and Katie Gately.

O2 Ritz, 20 July, £10-£22


Adam Thirlwell and Hans Ulrich Obrist construct an intimate language laboratory, specially designed by Rem Koolhaas and Cookies, to present new stories by Patrick Chamoiseau, Sayaka Murata, Adania Shibli, Sjón, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Dubravka Ugrešić and Alejandro Zambra - written for MIF19 and read live by their authors while simultaneously translated and interpreted into performance.

Manchester Academy, 12-14 July, £10-£25

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Architect Rem Koolhaas


Language is also a key preoccupation of acclaimed Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s immersive installation Atmospheric Memory, a series of ‘Atmospheric Machines’ that attempt to ‘materialise sound’ - inspired by computing pioneer Charles Babbage’s proposal that the air is a ‘vast library’ holding every word ever spoken - in a fascinating fusion of daring artwork and sensory performance.

MSIM, 6-21 July, £5-£8


Manchester’s own history is centre-stage in The Anvil: An Elegy for Peterloo, which marks the landmark 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre in a major two-part commission. ANU, one of Europe’s most daring theatre companies, will take to the streets for a day-long series of immersive performances inspired by the stories of those who died at St Peter’s Field. The evening sees the world premiere of a major new musical work by composer Emily Howard and poet Michael Symmons Roberts, performed by the BBC Philharmonic and a massed chorus featuring the BBC Singers and three Hallé choirs.

Bridgewater Hall, 7 July, £10


The places and spaces of the city become the stage for two immersive works: The Berlin-based company Rimini Protokoll’s Utopolis Manchester is a visionary new work that transforms our view of the city as we discover the people and places that create Manchester’s daily life, in a journey inspired by Thomas More’s Utopia

Multiple locations, 10-13 July, £10-£20

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Utopolis Manchester MIF


The Manchester cholera epidemic of the 1830s is the unlikely inspiration for The Drunk Pandemic, the first major UK project by Chim↑Pom from Tokyo, one of the world’s most playful and provocative art collectives, who come to MIF19 at the invitation of Contact Young Curators.

Secret location, 5-21 July, TBC

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Chim↑Pom MIF


Animals of Manchester (including HUMANZ) imagines what life might be like if animals lived with us not as our pets but as our peers in an interactive Live Art experience created by Hamburg-based artist Sibylle Peters (Theatre of Research) and London’s Live Art Development Agency (LADA), featuring installations, performances and encounters from artists, including Joshua Sofaer and Marcus Coates. Elsewhere, for families, Studio ORKA’s  Tuesday, is a beautifully staged exploration of the milestones of life in a Grade I listed Victorian church in Salford.

Whitworth, 20-21 July, Free


Ivo van Hove, one of the world’s most acclaimed directors, brings his Internationaal Theater Amsterdam ensemble to Manchester to perform The Fountainhead, a gripping adaptation of Ayn Rand’s uncompromising 20th-century classic, which has been a major inspiration for libertarian politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. This passionate hymn to individualism is presented alongside another project directed by Van Hove, Re:Creating Europe, which considers the notion of Europe through some of the speeches and texts that have shaped, traced and defined its history.

The Lowry, 10-13 July, £10-£35

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The Fountainhead MIF


Creative pioneer Laurie Anderson will present To The Moon, an expanded virtual reality work she is developing with the artist Hsin-Chien Huang, featuring a VR experience and an immersive installation. Cape Town-born artist Kemang Wa Lehulere, will be joining us for a Festival-long residency at Manchester Central Library, exploring the city and its libraries as he begins researching and creating a future Festival commission.

Royal Exchange, 11-20 July, TBC

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Laurie Anderson, To The Moon


Sir Mark Elder, Musical Director of the Hallé, and Johan Simons, the acclaimed Dutch theatre director, are also developing a new work for The Factory, inspired by composer Dimitri Shostakovich and the writer Vasily Grossman. They will be discussing this new work before a performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, Leningrad.

Bridgewater Hall, 11 July, £8-£34


My Festival, MIF’s creative engagement programme, will be central to this year’s Festival, as it was in 2017. With a year-round programme of activity, including Festival in My House, a series of micro international festivals curated by local people and hosted in their own homes, bursaries for up-and-coming Greater Manchester-based artists supported by Jerwood Arts, and Breathe, a programme blending dance and spoken word for local young people, My Festival is a full-time presence in the city. 

For the Festival itself, the programme includes a range of ways to participate in international commissions, a volunteer programme involving 500 people from the region, and opportunities to showcase talent in festival square.

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Festival Square


Other highlights include a new collaboration between Brooklyn’s Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray (FlexN Manchester at MIF15) and Manchester-based spoken word collective Young Identity; a new iteration of Karl Hyde’s MIF17 hit Manchester Street Poem; and a series of intimate discussions and public debates under the banner of Interdependence, the ideas strand of MIF’s public programme.

For more info, venues, show times and tickets, visit mif.co.uk