The Manchester Flower Festival, an annual event organised by Manchester City Centre Business Improvement District, is set to return this late May Bank Holiday weekend (Friday 26th – Monday 29th May 2023). Now in its fifth year, the free festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors and promises a colourful spectacle of floral displays, al fresco dining, live music, and family entertainment. The event celebrates Manchester’s rich culture and history with an emphasis on Instagrammable moments.
The ‘Manchester in Flowers’ Floral Trail, a key part of the festival, will feature 10 professionally designed pop-up gardens winding through the city’s shopping streets. Highlights include The Grassienda, a grassy version of Manchester’s iconic nightclub, a Rain Garden inspired by the city’s weather reputation, a Town Hall Clock planter, a wildflower takeover of the Cotton Bud Fountain on St Ann’s Square, and a giant bee hive. Other gardens will pay tribute to Manchester’s LGBTQIA+ history, the Suffragettes, local inventions, and Coronation Street icon Hilda Ogden. Additionally, visitors can expect to see installations such as a Vimto mini garden, wheelbarrow gardens inspired by Roman Manchester and the city’s football teams, and floral displays in shop windows and doorways.
The RHS and National Trust will participate in the festival, providing visitors with the opportunity to pose with the RHS floral green wall and learn about the new RHS Garden Bridgewater and the RHS Grow App. The National Trust team will discuss the first year of the new ‘Sky Park’ for the city – Castlefield Viaduct – which will open its community garden for visitors during the festival.
New Cathedral Street will host the Floral Marquee for the first time in 2023, showcasing beautiful displays from local florists such as Smart Floral Art, IndieBloom, Flowers from the Farm, and Treehouse Manchester. Workshops on Ikebana Japanese flower arranging and macrame plant hangers will be available.
Manchester’s The Cloud Gardener will take to the Main Stage in Exchange Square on Sunday at 11 am as part of the daily garden talks. The stage will also feature live music and a lineup of Manchester’s top DJs.
Harvey Nichols is collaborating with Grey Goose at this year’s event, hosting the world’s smallest spritz bar on New Cathedral Street. The camionette will offer intimate complimentary cocktail masterclasses, with twelve slots for two people available each day, bookable via Eventbrite. An outdoor bar will also serve floral-inspired cocktails and a ‘living menu,’ providing customers with items to take away and plant in their gardens.
Selfridges Exchange Square and The Manchester Flower Festival will team up again for ‘Flower Festival on The Square,’ featuring the event’s main stage, outdoor bar, and street food. A portion of the profits will go to local charities. The festival will also include a Cocktail Trail across the city, with participating bars and restaurants such as Grand Pacific, Franco Manca, and Urban Playground.
Food enthusiasts can visit St Ann’s Square to enjoy pop-up restaurants from multi-award-winning chef and restaurateur Simon Shaw, showcasing food and drink from El Gato Negro, Habas, and Canto. A pop-up flower, art, and craft market will also be present.
Families are invited to participate in the Manchester Bee Parade, dressing up as bees, bugs, or pollinators. The parade will start at The Royal Exchange on Sunday 28th May, at 1 pm, with participants following Manchester’s Queen Bee from garden to garden while performing the special bee dance, ‘The Waggledance.’ This unforgettable family parade promises to be a buzzing affair for all attendees. Additionally, the festival offers a bee spotting trail and a mud kitchen and sensory garden on St Ann’s Square for families to enjoy.
Outside the main festival zone, the Manchester Flower Festival Fringe will see venues, public spaces, and businesses across the city supporting the event with their own commissioned gardens and displays. Some highlights include a floating garden at The Bridgewater Hall, a nature trail at Great Northern Warehouse, and new displays at Sadler’s Yard NOMA, First Street, Science and Industry Museum, Lincoln Square, One Piccadilly, Exhibition, Affleck’s, Printworks, and more.
The Manchester Flower Festival is set to be an unforgettable weekend of floral festivities, providing a vibrant and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages. The event aims to celebrate Manchester’s rich history, culture, and creativity, while offering a wide range of activities, installations, and dining options throughout the city. Mark your calendars and join the celebration during the late May Bank Holiday weekend.
Manchester Flower Festival
Where: Various locations across Manchester
When: Friday 26th – Monday 29th May 2023