Thursday, 10 March 2016

Why March is a month of unique events in Manchester

1)      International Women’s Day in Manchester – this is a city striving to  uphold equality, with International Women’s Day on the 8th March being turned into a month-long celebration of female achievement. A number of events have been organised which suggest Manchester as a melting-pot for women’s movements – after all, the suffragettes were established here by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903. Expect events as diverse as the women being celebrated; from cinema screenings as unique as ‘Girl Gang Manchester #1: Mean Girls’ to the ‘Wonder Women’ exhibition taking place in the John Ryland’s Library. You can go to the Manchester city council website and find out more about events near you:

2)      Cosmosis –four stages of some of the best alternate music, thousands of attendees, and all inside a factory warehouse –Cosmosis arrives on March 12th. It’s a unique festival which not only celebrates the industrial settings the city has to offer – the Victoria Warehouse – but also a range of psychedelic and rock and roll acts from around the world. 2016 is set to include bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain and Sleaford Mods; whilst also drawing attention to Manchester talent, such as the female-fronted PINS.  It highlights the city as somewhere associated with quirkiness and creativity; with the organisers Remake Remodel and Interstellar Overdrive keen to emphasize the free-thinking, fantastical nature of the event. An old warehouse meets new wavelengths!

3)      DERT – The truly unique Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT)is set to take place in Manchester, over the weekend of 11-13th March. What? It’s a form of sword dancing; a Northern specialty which combines a form of traditional mining dance with folk music and plenty of pubs! ‘Rapper Swords’ are involved – flexible pieces of metal which the dancers co-ordinate themselves around – complete with costume, creative storytelling, and even somersaults! It’s an energetic event which celebrates the working class community and legacy of industry; therefore ideally suited to Manchester. Even though the dancing itself is thought to originate from the pit villages of Tyneside, the complete costume is sure to be welcome here; especially as the competition is taking place within some of the city’s favourite traditional watering holes - The Apple and Apple and The Gas Lamp  for example.  DERT is a competition open to all rapper sword dancing teams and attracts a range of participants as well as audiences. Held annually in the UK, it has already made an impression on cities such as Leeds and Bristol – and with famous names such as ‘Red Mum Rapper’ from Denmark having travelled from overseas to take part in the past, it’s now ready to storm Manchester.

4)      FutureEverything - this is a festival in the form of a cross-cultural laboratory coming to life on the 30th March (until the 2nd April); and it’s home-grown too. Set up in the city in 1995, FutureEverything has been at the heart of exploring connections between society, culture and technology   - something Manchester, gaining so much ground through industry, is famous for. The Guardian has already named it as one of the top ten ideas festivals in the world and FutureEverything prides itself on fostering creativity as well as focusing on how technology can develop to address growing issues such as climate change. All-year round the festival supports innovation, as well as communicating through wider cultural events such as concerts and conferences.  Engaging the audiences this year include Addie Magenknecht, award-winning robotics artist Darius Laemi and the famous ‘annual Friday night party’; which consists of a series of improvisational performances at Islington Mill. Be prepared to be plunged into a festival at the forefront of the digital age.

5)      Designs for Living: New exhibition at HOME  - an example of a place celebrating advancement and excitement here, as well as simple city charms, is the contemporary arts venue HOME. Part of the First Street development, it is forging forward with an exhibition which celebrates the changing nature of construction and how it pushes the barriers of painting– ‘Designs for Living’ brought together by artists Claire Dorsett and Cherry Tenneson. From the 11th March, a range of paintings on building materials could be seen to show how attitudes to construction evolve in a city environment over time; including a celebration of the ordinary and turning the ‘everyday’ buildings we pass, into pieces of art. This exhibition allows you to experience your surrounds in a new way.