Manchester International Festival Announces Line-Up For Its Free Festival Square

More than 190 artists, bands, DJs and musicians lined up for an exciting Festival Square programme during MIF23 this summer
Emma Moore-Palmer
May 18, 2023

Factory International today announces the line-up for Festival Square, the central hub of its biennial Manchester International Festival (MIF) which returns to thecity from 29 June to 16 July.

Over 150 performers joining the MIF23 Festival Square programme are from Greater Manchester, highlights include A Certain Ratio, Dutch Uncles, OneDa, The Red Stains, Agbeko, Werkha and The KTNA.

Entertainment for all includes 'Early-Riser' family-friendly workshops, 'In Conversations' and Walking Tours.

Food and drink on the square will be provided by Hip Hop Chip Shop, Zouk, ARMR, Ginger's Comfort Emporium and Super Serve. The much-loved hub of the festival relocates to the riverside public spaces outside Factory International's new venue, ahead of its official opening in October.  

ARMR, The Hip Hop Chip Shop & Gingers Comfort Icecream

Taking place at the new riverside location Festival Square’s free open-air stage will host over 190 artists, bands, DJs and musicians all performing for free, as well as family entertainment and a wide variety of food and drink. With over 150 artists in the line-up hailing from Greater Manchester, the programme is massive celebration of sounds of the region.

One of the highlights of the Festival Square programme is legendary post-punk band A Certain Ratio celebrating 45 years of the band. They’ll be joined by avant-pop-trio The Orielles, and electro art rock quartet Dutch Uncles trans-non-binary, singer-song writer, composer & producer Planningtorock who lead a northern celebration at Festival Square, alongside international artists such as singer-songwriter Nakhane, acapella group The Joy who’ve recently performed on Jools Holland, plus an in conversation with Canadian artist Peaches.

Throughout MIF23, Festival Square will present takeovers from some of the city’s best promoters, club nights, collectives, venues and radio stations including Band on the Wall, Brighter Sound, Dave Haslam, Feel Good Club, Piano in the City, Reform Radio, Trans Creative and YES. Every lunchtime, Tuesday to Friday, the square will play host to experimental classical concerts from Vulva Voce, Bothy Project, Untold Orchestra and K'in Ensemble.

A Daytimers collective takeover will feature live performances and DJ sets from Samrai & Guests, Vindya fresh from their recent Samarbeta residency, Taxi Cab Industries, Trayner, G33 & Chandé; and Unity Radio present a 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, marking 50 years of the genre.

Vulva Voce
Vulva Voce

Following an open call-out to perform on the Square, in which over 290 artists and community groups from the region applied, 26 were selected including experimental R&B from Cariss Auburn, alt-pop singer-songwriter Nxdia, bedroom-pop iamkyami, and Afrobeat and Reggae collective Sens Sagna and the Kajamor Family.

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.


The range of Manchester’s scene will be in full force across Festival Square from the punk anarchy of The Red Stains and the cosmic soul of The KTNA, to the broken-beat DJ sounds of Werkha and pop singer-songwriter Bay Bryan.

Rivca Burns, Festival Square programmer for Factory International says: “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 bringing 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!”

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

The full MIF23 programme takes place city-wide, encompassing new work from across the spectrum of the arts, with the Festival Square stage adding to the plethora of music artists previously announced for the 18-day festival, including Alison Goldfrapp, John Grant and the Richard Hawley band, Grammy-award winning Angélique Kidjo, The Comet Is Coming, revered Sufi singer Sanam Marvi, a new composition from AFRODEUTSCHE with Manchester Camerata, and a night with some of the best in the British South Asian new music scene headlined by Zach Knight.

As one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations, Factory International is generously supported thanks to public funding.

More details on the MIF23 programme, including Festival Square, can be found at All events on Festival Square are free, unticketed and will run Tuesday to Friday 12pm to late, Saturday and Sunday 10am to late.

Header Image: The Orielles