L-R: Willem Dafoe, Marina Abramović, Antony, Robert Wilson - shot during workshops at Teatro Real, Madrid Sept 2010 Photo credit: Antony Crook

Art, music & theatre: book now for Manchester International Festival

No, it’s not in London, but trust us: this really is worth a train fare. Manchester International Festival bills itself as ‘the world’s first international festival of original, new work and special events,’ but that doesn’t begin to convey how jammingly brilliant it is.

We went two years ago (the festival is biennial) to see Marina Abramovich, Punchdrunk, and Rufus Wainwright (his opera, Prima Donna was the only thing we didn’t love, but never mind), and also heard some Bach being played in a temporary auditorium designed by Zaha Hadid. That’s the kind of thing you stumble on at the Manchester Festival. We just loved it.

And we’re in a state of giddy excitement about this year’s programme, check it out here, which is packed full of delights. Our top tips? Bjork, Doctor Dee (a show composed by Damon Albarn and directed by Rufus Norris), Victoria Wood’s That Day We Sang, Amadou & Miriam, artist John Gerrard’s Infinite Freedom Exercise, Ricki Lee Jones (her set will include Pirates, one of our favourite albums, in its entirety), Punchdrunk’s The Crash of The Elysium – their first ever show for children, Sinead O’Connor, and The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, a new stage piece directed by Robert Wilson with music by Antony Hegarty and starring Abramović herself alongside other actors and performance artists including Willem Dafoe. Are we missing anything? Snoop Doggy Dog anyone? Because he’s there too!

Tickets for all the shows at MIF went on sale on last Friday, and though festival doesn’t start till the end of June, many of the events (Bjork in particular, and yes, Snoop Dog) are selling out fast. Book now.

Manchester International Festival
30 June - 17 July 2011
Festival takes place all over Manchester. Festival office is at 81 King Street, Manchester, M2 4AH
Many events are free. Top ticket prices (e.g to see Bjork) are £45. Most tickets are around £15 - £30
0161 238 7300
— Daisy
24th March 2011