Loads of music, theatre and festivals for the month ahead
What a summer it has been, eh? The sun came out, the sun went in. The football. It rained loads. But now we’re moving towards Autumn so you can start forgetting about all that.
Except looking across our selection of things to do for September you’d think it was August part two. Music. Music everywhere. Festivals, gigs, orchestras working with restaurants, different genres, the lot. If we organised this month’s round-up solely on what kept popping up left, right and centre we’d read like the NME.
So music aside, there happens to be other stuff going on this month too. Illustration and photography collide, there’s a food and film festival, a film and drink festival and a Transylvanian food and drink festival. Theatre, gin and books are also represented.
Without further ado here’s our list of things to do across the Manchester region for the month of August.
STRATA | PAPER GALLERY | 14 AUGUST - 18 SEPTEMBER
Strata, which takes its name from the process of layering in both artists’ work, is a two-person exhibition by Edinburgh-based artist, Elise Ashby and Manchester-based Lisa Denyer and curated by the Fourdrinier writer, Laura Harris. A mixture of drawings of curious metal objects found at Wardie Bay beach in Edinburgh (Ashby) and highly textured, densely layered and vivid paintings (Harris), the exhibition delves into the physical and non-physical layers of matter and time. Entry is free.
THE REVOLUTION WILL BE LIVE| THE BLUES KITCHEN | SEPTEMBER 2
On the tenth anniversary of Gil Scott Heron’s passing, the ground-breaking poet, musician and political activist’s protégé Malik Al Nasir will be leading a night of tributes at The Blues Kitchen. The intimate and atmospheric venue will host The Revolution Will Be Live, a critically-acclaimed, festival headlining show which celebrates the late legend in the company of Scott Heron’s musical family. The night will also commemorate the release of Al Nasir’s coming-of-age memoir Letters to Gil. Tickets are £16.50.
MY UTOPIA | CARLTON CLUB | 2 - 15 SEPTEMBER
How great is it to see creativity flourishing in public again? We don’t want to get bogged down in the doom and gloom of the pandemic but whether we like it or not it’ll be something to explore creatively for years to come. My Utopia is one such welcome artistic venture with local photographer Richard Kelly and Salford artist Emma Evans teaming up for an exhibition of part photography part illustration which seeks to explore social isolation, the last eighteen months and the positive takeaways as we move forward. Entry is free and the exhibition can be viewed during the venues normal opening hours.
GÓBÉFEST | CATHEDRAL GARDENS | 3 - 5 SEPTEMBER
Originally set up in 2017 to celebrate the little known traditions of the Székler people - a minority group of ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania, which is part of Romania - Góbéfest will swap Albert Square for Cathedral Gardens in early September for its fifth year. Celebrating all things Transylvanian and packed to the gills with Eastern European food, drink, music and culture, expect plenty of foot-stomping, bottle balancing and palinka - the region’s super strength fruit brandy. Musical performers include the Hungarian Choir of Great Britain and multi-instrumentalists Folkstone band. They’ll also be Teqball, a sort of football table tennis on a curved table which originated in Hungary. Entry is free.
AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH BRIAN BLESSED | THE BOWDEN ROOMS | 4 SEPTEMBER
Of all the people to have an intimate evening with, Brian Blessed is definitely up there. Larger than life is a term that doesn’t really cut it to describe the cult actor, writer and presenter, nor do those tags really do justice to a man who has voiced everything from Peppa Pig to TomTom’s Sat Nav system. His upcoming show at the Bowden Rooms will touch upon over 50 years of material, from surviving plane crashes to working with the biggest names in the entertainment business. The remaining tickets start at £128 and include a three course meal, live entertainment, audience Q&A and souvenir photograph with Brian himself. The dress code is black tie so dig out your gladrags.
MANCHESTER PSYCH FESTIVAL | VARIOUS | 4 SEPTEMBER
Dust off your tie-dye because Manchester Psych Festival is back. Taking place across venues including Gorilla, O2 Ritz, Dancehouse, YES and Deaf Institute, this year’s festival boasts a mind-bending line-up of established and up and coming bands as well as some nice visuals from the likes of local artists including Caroline Dowsett, Jane Bowyer and more. But what of the music? BBC 6 Music faves The Mysterines are on the bill, as are Hebden Bridge starlets The Lounge Society. Stereolab, Girl Band and Beak> are headlining. Tickets are still available starting at £55.
GLEE & ME | THE ROYAL EXCHANGE THEATRE | 11 SEPTEMBER – 30 OCTOBER
Dark comedy at The Royal Exchange Theatre this month courtesy of Stuart Slade’s 2019 Bruntwood Judges Prize winning GLEE & ME. Telling the story of a sharp-witted 16-year-old’s quest to get “all the sex” and discover the meaning of life before she dies of a malignant brain tumour (dark, but stick with us), the play is a funny and optimistic portrayal of love and the human spirit. “A vinaigrette of despair poured over a salad of joy”, as the main character, Lola, would put it. Standard tickets start at £18 and £7 for under 30s.
SECONDHAND BOOK SALE | ELIZABETH GASKELL HOUSE | 12 SEPTEMBER
We’re eight months into the year now. How’s that new year’s resolution going to read more books? Not great? Thought so. The second-hand book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell House is one of the city’s best places for getting your mitts on some literature whether your read averse or a turbocharged turner of the pages. Taking place every second Sunday of the month from 11am to 4pm, it’s a great tradition to incorporate into a mooch around the city and the Oxford Road corridor. Real insider stuff. Entry is free and there’s also a book group online if you’re feeling inspired.
RIPPLES OF HOPE FESTIVAL | HOME | 15 – 19 SEPTEMBER
This year’s inaugural Ripples of Hope festival at HOME comes with some pretty big hitters. Headliners include former US Presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton (in conversation via video link), Manchester United striker and anti-poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford, poet laureate Simon Armitage and Turkish author Elif Shafak. All of whom will be exploring the issues and challenges of human rights through a series of lectures and talks. Day passes start at £20 with tickets available for individual evening events too.
MANCHESTER FOOD AND DRINK FESTIVAL | 16 – 25 SEPTEMBER
It’s felt like a long wait but Manchester Food and Drink Festival is almost upon us. Taking place in Cathedral Gardens and celebrating all things Manchester food and drink, this year’s edition aims to support the recovery of Manchester’s dining and drinking scene by showcasing the best of the area with plenty of on-site tasting. The calendar of events sees pop-ups from The Bull & Bear and Eat Well MCR sitting alongside Schlosstoberfest and Manchester’s Biggest Chippy Tea. Capping things off on Monday night (25 September) will be the annual awards ceremony. Be sure to download the app to vote for your favourites.
LOVE N STUFF | OLDHAM COLISEUM | 16 SEPTEMBER - 2 OCTOBER
If you’re after something uplifting and funny to watch at the theatre, Love N Stuff might just be the thing you need when it launches this month at Oldham Coliseum. Written by Tanika Gupta and directed by Gitika Buttoo, the production tells the story of a married couple who’ve been happily married for years before one day the husband decides to move back to India. It’s up to his wife and half the neighbourhood to persuade him to stay. Two actors play over 15 characters in this laugh out loud, thoughtful and comforting play.
CHORLTON BOOK FESTIVAL | VARIOUS | 17 – 25 SEPTEMBER
Rejoice, Chorlton Book Festival is back in its human touching paper form. No more pixelated webcams and potential Jackie Weaver moments. Now in its 17th year (blimey), the festival will be returning with its trademark itinerary of walks, talks and performances celebrating Chorlton and beyond. Highlights include an evening with Flapjack Press (20 September), Northern Noir: Saima Mir and Karen Woods in conversation (19 September) and Chris Hall talking about his book The Nurse Who Became a Spy (21 September).
THE BALLAD OF MARIA MARTEN | THE LOWRY | 21 - 25 SEPTEMBER
A thrilling re-telling of the infamous Red Barn Murder in the summer of 1827, The Ballad of Maria Marten is a compassionate ode to the victim of the murder putting a face, wit and personality to the victim ahead of the murder mystery hysteria. Hal Chambers and Beth Flintoff’s take on the story is a vivid, poignant and above all personal take on the murder which has inspired writers and filmmakers through the ages. Tickets from £10.
FILM AND FOOD FEST | HEATON PARK | 23- 26 SEPTEMBER
Heaton Park, the gift that keeps on giving. Last month it was beaches and rides, this month it’s films and food. Name a more iconic duo, we’ll wait. Hosted by Adventure Cinema, film and food fest will be bringing four days of open-air cinema, street food, live comedy and specially-curated short films from regional filmmakers. But what of the films, we hear you say. There are some corkers. Pulp Fiction (1994), The Greatest Showman (2017) complete with singalong and personal highlight Queen & Slim (2019) are just some of the films on offer. Just make sure to bring your own camping chair or blanket. Tickets are available from £6.
MANCHESTER GIN SOCIETY FESTIVAL | MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL | 24 – 25 SEPTEMBER
Lots of opportunities to hang out in Cathedral Gardens. The cathedral itself? Less so. This month gin just happens to be the excuse for going inside for a mooch around. Manchester Gin Society Festival is a rare chance to sample over 100 gins all under one, rather spectacular, roof. There’ll be 15 premium rums to sample too as well as food, games and live music. It’s also worth pointing out that there are freebies too. A £15 ticket not only grants entry to the festival but also includes a free gin, your own Copa glass to take home and a stainless steel straw for environmentally friendly sipping.
NORTHERN LIGHTS WRITERS' CONFERENCE | SALE WATERSIDE | 25 SEPTEMBER
Fancy yourself as a bit of scribe? Got a book in you but don’t know where to begin? The Northern Lights Writers Conference, now in its eighth year, is probably up your alley if so. And even if you’re more interested in the reading of books than the writing, with great form for keynote speakers (past ones have included Will Self and Sarah Dunant), it’s a great place to hear best-selling authors talking about their books. This year Kate Mosse OBE will be taking on keynote speaker duties with Sophie Willan, Okechukwu Nzelu and Phoebe Morgan also part of panel and Q&A discussions. Tickets start at £25 for in-person and £10 via Zoom.
PEACEOPHOBIA | Q-PARK, FIRST STREET | 29 SEPTEMBER - 2 OCTOBER
A new immersive theatrical experience presented by Contact is coming to Manchester exploring the rise of Islamophobia around the world and providing “an unapologetic response”. There’s a twist, however. Rather than taking place in a theatre of performance space, the production will be presented in a Manchester city-centre car park overlooking the city. Peaceophobia presents the narratives of three Pakistani men living in the shadow of Islamophobic historic events, set against a backdrop of the Bradford riots, 9/11 and police harassment. Religion and cars provide sanctuary for the men as they attempt to take control of the narratives around their religion. Tickets start at £15.
There’s a lot of music happening this month too
Takes deep breath* There are still some tickets available for The Courteeners at Old Trafford (25 September), various dates at The Warehouse Project (starts 10 September) and there’s also Parklife (11-12 September) this month at Heaton Park. Manchester Reggae Festival (19 September) is also back with an eclectic mix including reggae royalty headliners and ones for your rents to dance to, UB40. Sounds of the City (21-26 September), which feels like it has been postponed forever, returns to Castlefield Bowl this month too with various dates and headliners including The Streets, a Razorlight Kaiser Chiefs doubleheader and Snow Patrol.
If that’s not enough to keep your ears ringing, Escape to Freight Island has announced its Autumn DJ line-up and Irlam Live (17-19 September) is a chance to see Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Scouting for Girls in, well, Irlam. Even Stockport's Where The Light Gets In has teamed up with the Manchester Collective for a bespoke run of listening experiences starting Sunday 19 September. All this on top of gig venues across Manchester filling up their listings. You love to see it.
Read again: The best alternative Manchester Pride events
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