Manchester International Festival opens

David Upton

Manchester International Festival, now established as one of the most prominent of its kind in the world, opens on Thursday with What is the City but the People?.

It's a large-scale public celebration of Manchester that sees local people walking a specially created runway in Piccadilly Gardens for audiences of thousands both live and online; followed by Manchester music legends New Order performing at Old Granada Studios in an environment designed by artist Liam Gillick.

MIF continues until July 16 and features 25 new commissions and special events including:

  • True Faith, a major exhibition exploring the legacy of Joy Division and New Order
  • Fatherland, a new show created by Simon Stephens, Karl Hyde and Scott Graham
  • Party Skills for the End of the World, apocalyptic theatre from Shunt’s Nigel & Louise
  • Jane Horrocks’s Cotton Panic!, the story of Manchester’s cotton famine
  • A rare Thomas Ostermeier world première outside Berlin, Returning to Reims
  • Yael Bartana’s What if Women Ruled the World?, directed by Vicky Featherstone
  • A celebration of Manchester hero Friedrich Engels by artist Phil Collins
  • New work from double Oscar-winning director and activist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • Specially-commissioned music for public places with Music for a Busy City
  • Themes of migration explored by artists including Samson Young and Susan Hefuna
  • One-off gigs from artists including Sampha, Arcade Fire, Bonobo, Ride
  • MIF’s first game commission from Portland-based designer Nina Freeman
  • Sufi stars Sanam Marvi and Harshdeep Kaur performing together for the first time
  • Refit of MIF’s hub Festival Square by designers Paloma Gormley & Nick Henninger

So far, more than 4,000 local people have participated directly in MIF17, including around 500 taking part in MIF commissions.