A Certain Ratio, Peaches and James Holt confirmed for Festival Square at MIF23

Manchester International Festival's free events space will move to its new home of Factory International.

By Manchester's Finest | 18 May 2023

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2019's Festival Square was held at Albert Square outside of the Town Hall. Image: MIF

Taking over the riverside of new arts destination Factory International from 29 June – 16 July, Manchester International Festival (MIF) has revealed its line-up for 2023’s Festival Square. 

Bringing over 190 bands, artists and performers to an open-air stage on the banks of the biggest arts venue since the Tate, MIF’s Festival Square focus will be on homegrown talent. Highlights include performances from A Certain Ratio, Werkha, Meduulla and The Orielles, and an in conversation with Canadian artist Peaches

Takeovers from Band on the Wall, Brighter Sound, Dave Haslam, Feel Good Club, Piano in the City, Reform Radio, Trans Creative, Homoelectric and YES have already been announced, and, every lunchtime, Tuesday to Friday, the square will play host to experimental classical concerts from the likes of Vulva Voce, Bothy Project, Untold Orchestra and K’in Ensemble.

Sens Sagna and the Kajamor Family were chosen to perform through the festival’s open-call. Image: Senstentsmile

Festival Square will also welcome performances from the successful applicants of Factory International’s open-call, which saw over 260 people apply to perform at the festival. Among the 26 selected are alt-pop singer-songwriter Nxdia, afrobeat and reggae collective Sens Sagna and the Kajamor Family, Latin band Guacamaya, and Brazilian percussion from youth-group Jubacana.

Showcasing Factory International’s music development programme, Factory Sounds, solo artist and multi-instrumentalist James Holt, afrobeat influenced rapper Prido, and shoegaze indie pop band Foxglove will also perform at 2023’s Festival Square. The annual programme has been set up to raise the profile of Manchester’s music scene, by supporting people in all areas of the industry. 

One of the most exciting announcements for this year’s programme is Unity Radio’s celebration of women in hip-hop. Featuring OneDa, Lady Ice, Envy and more, in collaboration with musicians from the One Education Manchester Youth String Orchestra, the daytime take over will celebrate 50 years of the genre with some of the women at the forefront of Manchester’s underground scene.

There’ll be tons of food from local indie businesses at the festival, too. Image: Adam Pester

Speaking of hip hop, Manchester’s foodie community has also clubbed together to provide menus for this year’s event. Visitors can expect Caribbean delights from ARMR store, a chippy tea from the Hip Hop Chip Shop, Indian Pakistani cuisine from Zouk and a spectacular range of ice-cream flavours from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium. Super Serve, who were recently announced as Factory International’s food and beverage partner, will preview their offering ahead of their full roll-out when the venue officially opens in October.  

But there’s plenty for kids too. Family entertainment will take place every weekend from Babyrocksampler, Born To Be Wild Child, Playhouse Project and more for those with little ones in tow. There are also big plans for Festival Square on the closing weekend, as 50 students from high schools across Greater Manchester present a fashion show inspired by Yayoi Kusama, who will also have an exhibit at Factory International from July.

For those outside the city centre, Sounds From the Square will be broadcasting live to the world from factoryinternational.org and the Factory International YouTube channel with interviews, performances and behind the scenes access to the productions at MIF23.

Rivca Burns, Festival Square programmer for Factory International said: “We’re super excited to share the 2023 edition of Festival Square, featuring more voices than ever before from across Greater Manchester. It is an honour to curate the programme for the hub of Manchester International Festival, the talent in this city is huge and brings over 190 acts to this international stage. The programme will excite, inspire and fill you with joy daily, get down to Festival Square to enjoy your new favourite artist!”