Coronavirus update: View cancelled events here

Manchester International Festival: Skiddle's Top Five Picks

The third bi-annual Manchester International Festival launches today. Will Orchard looks forward to eighteen extraordinary days of music, theatre, dance and art.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 30th Jun 2011

Since 2006 Manchester’s International Festival has commissioned a raft of new and unique arts events, ranging from music, theatre, dance and art.

This year’s event promises to be no different, as the festival takes over the city for just under three weeks of stunning programming. Here are some of our highlights:

Dr Dee
1-9 July, The Palace Theatre

After two Glastonbury headline slots in two years, Damon Albarn returns to the sight of 2007’s ‘Monkey: Journey To The West’ with a new MIF-commissioned stage show delving into the life and times of mysterious Elizabethan John Dee. Like the multi-talented Renaissance man Albarn has become in recent years Dee was a figure in the worlds of astronomy, alchemy and espionage and together with West End and Broadway director Rufus Norris, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and long-time collaborator Tony Allen – amongst others – Albarn brings to life for a new generation the story of a forgotten historical figure.

Snoop Dogg performs Doggystyle
15 July, O2 Apollo

Despite massive success over the last twenty years, debut album ‘Doggystyle’ remains Snoop Dogg’s calling card. Selling a million copies in its first week and becoming the fastest selling debut ever at the time, the album marked a watershed moment in hip-hop’s movement into the mainstream. Returning to Manchester with a host of original guests – including Warren G and Daz Dillinger – Snoop Dogg will perform the album in its entirety in what’s promised to be a special “multimedia experience”.

Björk presents Biophilia
30 June -16 July, Campfield Market Hall, MOSI

The elusive Icelandic songstress does nothing by half-measure, and her latest ‘Biophilia’ project is no exception. Creating instruments from scratch, as well as commissioning iPad apps and video installations to accompany her new live show, Björk’s first UK dates since 2008 promise to be a unique experience, while the venue – the Campfield Market Hall at Castlefield’s Museum of Science and Industry – is an ideal location for a concept piece focused on the themes of nature and the solar system.

16 July, The Tunnel, Great Bridgewater Street

Manchester’s latest hopes in the guitar music stakes, WU LYF have made a name for themselves with a raucous, anthemic sound and an enigmatic image to boot. The four-piece - whose debut album ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’ was released this month - are no strangers to special live shows, having built a reputation
on secret, members club-style affairs at café/bar An Outlet. Together with Manchester International Festival, a special gig beneath the Bridgewater Street tunnel for 2,000 fans promises to go down in Manchester music folklore.

True Faith, curated by Dave Haslam and Everything Everything
4-13 July, Pavilion Theatre

The first of three Manchester-centric gigs for the festival’s True Faith strand sees teenage four-piece Egyptian Hip-Hop supported by bass-music producer and DJ XXXY, with both performing their own material alongside covers and new tracks uniquely for the festival. The following evening, Lonelady showcases the brittle, XTC-style indie of her 2010 debut ‘Nerve Up’ while a week later Callum Wright, aka D/R/U/G/S, headlines with his throbbing techno- and dubstep- inspired brand of dance music. All promise to be exciting proof of the wide range of ground-breaking music being made in Manchester.

Words: Will Orchard

Find out more at

Related articles:

Not Part Of Festival events coming soon

Bjork to perform groundbreaking live show at Manchester International Festival