Festival Square 2023

Festival Square at MIF21

30 Jun - 16 Jul 2023

Festival Square is located in the outdoor spaces at Factory International's new venue. Find full access and travel information below.

Festival Square is free to attend – no booking required!

Accessibility features available for this event: BSL Interpreting Wheelchair Access

The buzzing heart of MIF is back this summer with a new riverside home.

Manchester's favourite summer hangout returns for MIF23 with a free programme of live music and performances. From late-night DJ sets and family-friendly fun, to spoken word and bands, Festival Square’s all about showing off the best talent from the city and beyond.

For the first time ever, Festival Square takes over the banks of the River Irwell – Manchester’s newest outdoor space. Catch up with friends, watch new acts and pick from enough street food to keep you full all summer. Whatever you’re into, Festival Square’s the place to kick back and discover what makes Manchester special.

With over 190 artists on the bill, there’s truly something for everyone. Post-punk legends A Certain Ratio, disco-flavour indie rockers The Orielles and leftfield dance producer (and dancefloor-filler) Planningtorock are all repping the North – alongside international heavyweights from the euphoric pop of South Africa’s Nakhane to Jools Holland favourites The Joy.

26 artists were selected from our open call – representing the next gen of Greater Manchester talent, alongside our bright and buzzing Factory Sounds cohort. And with takeovers from some of the city’s best promoters, club nights, collectives, venues and radio stations – think Band on the Wall, Brighter Sound, Reform Radio and more – the Square’s set to be a real Manchester love-in. Plus every lunchtime Tuesday to Friday, we’re playing host to experimental classical concerts from the likes of Vulva Voce, Bothy Project, Untold Orchestra and K'in Ensemble. The perfect excuse to take your lunch break and come and chill out.

The all-important food and drink comes from a smorgasbord of super-talented providers. Super Serve will preview their Middle Eastern inspired menu alongside Caribbean delights from ARMR, Indian and Pakistani cuisine from Zouk, chippy teas galore from Hip Hop Chip Shop plus Ginger’s Comfort Emporium will be making an appearance with their mouthwatering selection of ice-creams and sorbets.

Summer starts here – take a look through our day-by-day breakdown below and get planning your visit. We'll bring the tunes, the talent and the scran, and Manchester will bring the weather, right? Either way – see you in Fezzy Square.

Factory International would like to thank Bruntwood for their sponsorship of Festival Square stage and Hawkins\Brown for their design of Festival Square. 

Image: Lee Baxter

Get to know the line-up

  • Friday 30 June

    A certified Manchester love-in – with post-punk legends A Certain Ratio topping a bill presented by Dave Haslam
  • Saturday 1 July

    Joy is on the menu with multitalented South African superstar Nakhane, local star B!TEZ and Homoelectric
  • Sunday 2 July

    A jam-packed kids morning plus special programming presented by Brighter Sound and Band on the Wall? Count us in.
  • Tuesday 4 July

    From Vulva Voce to Women in Hip Hop, come and celebrate women taking up space and taking the stage.
  • Wednesday 5 July

    Peaches touches down in Manchester for a special talk – followed by a set from leftfield dance icon Planningtorock
  • Thursday 6 July

    Lock yourself in for a night of Trans excellence as our friends at TransCreative take over Festival Square for one night in Trans Vegas
  • Friday 7 July

    We’re going international with The Two Stubborn Nigerians podcast, uplifting pop from South Africa’s The Joy and a Piano in the City takeover.
  • Saturday 8 July

    Join us for a Saturday that will transport you across continents to South America, West Africa and South Asia – plus a party for the little ones
  • Sunday 9 July

    A wild Sunday of family rock ‘n’ roll fun before a headline set from disco post-punk outfit The Orielles, all presented by iconic Manchester venue YES
  • Tuesday 11 July

    Disrupt the male-dominated music industry with this genre-hopping celebration of women, non-binary and queer talent headlined by Heartworms
  • Wednesday 12 July

    Discover the sounds of the African continent and diaspora – with a closing party from Homecoming Festival to get you through the week
  • Thursday 13 July

    Dive into the world of talent behind Manchester-based Reform Radio before partying the night away with club favourites SHEwillprovide
  • Friday 14 July

    Feel good this Friday with our Feel Good Club takeover – plus an unmissable night with Dutch Uncles playing live and DJ Paulette on the decks
  • Saturday 15 July

    Embrace the avant-garde with our Kusama Fashion Show then party till late with British South Asian collective Daytimers
  • Sunday 16 July

    Put on your dancing shoes for Northern Soul DJ legend Colin Curtis and a chance to make connections at We Gather

The soundtrack to your summer

Access information

Here you can find access information about the venue, our access performances and advice on content. For more information about the different types of access performances we offer, please visit our Access page. If you have specific access needs that aren’t yet addressed, please email access@factoryinternational.org prior to the event and we’ll do our best to help.

This year Festival Square is located in the outdoor spaces at Factory International's new venue. The full address is Factory International, Water Street, Manchester M3 4JQ and what3words is chop.feeds.chase.


There is step-free access to all areas of Festival Square. There will be a range of seating options around the space, as well as picnic tables, including wheelchair accessible tables. The bars will have a lowered accessible service area

Events on stage at Festival Square will predominantly be set up as standing gigs. There will be a dedicated accessible viewing platform with ramped access for wheelchair users and those requiring access seats, as well as a dedicated space on the flat floor close to the stage. Access to both of these areas will be available on a first come, first served basis. A member of our front of house team will be able to show you to these when you arrive.

There will be BSL interpretation for music performances on the stage each day between 5pm and 5.30pm. These acts have all been selected via the Open Call earlier in 2023 and range from neo-soul to reggae to hip-hop to indie to pop. 

Toilets are available for Festival Square visitors inside the Factory International building. Accessible toilets ( a mixture of wheelchair accessible cubicles with right- or left-hand transfer, as well as ambulant accessible cubicles with grab rails) are located in the brick arches in the Social, where there is also a Changing Places facility.

There are additional accessible toilets located in both the Hall Foyers.

You do not need a key to use the accessible toilets.

Assistance dogs are welcome at Festival Square, and we can provide mats and water bowls on request. If you are bringing your assistance dog to Festival Square, please be mindful that there will be high noise levels at some events.

Travel information

Below you can find information on how to get to the venue/event.

Festival Square can be approached along Water Street (coming from Quay Street) or along Liverpool Road (coming from Deansgate or Castlefield).

The Water Street route is the quickest way to arrive at our City Square entrance (the main entrance for Festival Square).

Our closest stations are:

Salford Central station: 0.4 miles

Deansgate station and Deansgate-Castlefield tram: 0.6 miles

St Peter’s Square tram: 0.6 miles

Manchester Victoria station is approximately one mile from Factory International

Manchester Piccadilly station is approximately 1.3 miles from Factory International

Click on the links above to find detailed access information for each station.

Free bus services stop at all city-centre stations, and near to Factory International along Deansgate, Bridge St and Quay St. Buses on these free routes are wheelchair accessible. For full details of the free bus routes, please visit the TfGM website.

There is a car park approximately 0.6 miles from the event entrance at Water Street Car Park, New Elm Rd, Manchester, M3 4JH.

There is also a NCP car park (Manchester Spinningfields) approximately 0.5 miles away from the venue at Spinningfields, New Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3BE. It has 35 accessible bays.

There are a small number of Blue Badge spaces along Water St and Quay St. Otherwise head towards Liverpool Road, Great John St and Lower Byrom St – close to our neighbours, the Science and Industry Museum where there are a small number of additional Blue Badge spaces.

For a list of other parking bays available in the area, visit Manchester City Council website.

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