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Contact returns with its annual Vogue Ball for LGBTQ+ festival 2023

Make sure you don’t miss this!

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Contact

For its 50th anniversary, Contact is set to return with its annual House of Suarez’s Vogue Ball, celebrating the most extraordinary and exciting LGBTQ+ talent, as part of the Queer Contact festival.

Running from February 4th – 18th, Queer Contact festival 2023 will be bigger and brighter than ever, with Drag Race royalty gracing the stage and its annual extra, show-stopping Vogue Ball, presented by House of Suarez , kick-starting a two weeks celebration of queer artistry.

Set to be even more fierce and fabulous, highlights will include Drag Race UK’s talented queens Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister, as well as an evening in conversation with Heartstopper actor and Contact alumni Fisayo Akinade. 

Along with the outrageous cabaret Vogue Ball — a yearly highlight for fans of Contact — which will take place at Manchester Academy, it will travel back to the glorious decade of disco for a night of glitter and glam MCed by the iconic, Rikki Beadle-Blair. 

Contact

Houses from across the UK compete for the coveted titles of best choreography and best design — awarded by an esteemed panel of judges — as they pose and perform in an unapologetic celebration of inclusivity, queerness, and diversity.

Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister, the breakout stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK Season 2, will not fail to live up to their reputations as the most despised queens, as they try to bring the most disappointing drag show you’ve ever seen to the Manchester Stage — as part of their, You Keep Me Hanging On Tour.

In their debut for Queer Contact, this will mark the duo’s first joint show, and promises to be hilarious, if average.

 François Pandolfo

To add another festival highlight, Heartstopper and Cucumber actor Fisayo Akinade will also explore the many different elements that have influenced his life and career. Inspired by Contact’s celebration of its 50th anniversary, an In Conversation with Contact’s artistic director and CEO, Keisha Thompson, will see her talk with him about the 50 things that shaped his career.

One of the breakout comedy acts from the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, comedy performer François Pandolfo will make his debut at this year’s Queer Contact as Milly-Liu, with his ‘one-man-cat-drag-late-night comedy show.’ Join her as she is ready to spill the beans on all your favourite celebrity pussies. 

You can also jump onboard the queerest Tardis with Doctor Who inspired entertainment by Carrot and Friends. Be transported through time and space with their cosmic comedy as you experience dimension-defying drag, stratospheric stand-up, burlesque to make a Cyberman blush, and an oncoming storm of many other surprises.

Cocoa Butter Club

Bradford’s bad girl Lady Bursha will bring her hilarious and iconic drag queen comedy to the stage. Shortlisted for the 2021 BBC New Comedy Awards, Lady Bushra is the brainchild of British Asian comedian Amir. His alter ego Lady Bushra is known for her stand-up comedy, ingenious lipsync performances and one-liners, often seen performing her sold out ‘Drag Comedy Cabaret’ across the nation.

Other cabaret and comedy highlights include a night with the Cocoa Butter Club, an evening in the company of The Bitter Peach’s Peach Chutney Crew, and Luke Hereford brings their autobiographical musical adventures on their journey of queer self-discovery. 

CEO and Artistic Director Keisha Thompson said: “We’re so excited to be bringing the best in LGBTQ+ arts and culture together once again for Queer Contact 2023. Our flagship queer arts festival has been central to our mission and vision for over a decade and will continue to cement our spot on Manchester’s cultural map for many more decades to come.

“In 2023, as we celebrate our 50th birthday, Queer Contact is characterised by joy; from a Dr Who-themed cabaret to an evening with Heartstopper’s Fisayo Akinade, we’re here to platform a huge spectrum of queer lived experience; focusing on kindness, community and celebration.”

Tickets for Queer Contact 2023 are now on sale and can be booked via Contact’s website.

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Free festivals coming to Freight Island for ‘most electrifying season yet’

Get ready for a festival season of great food, drink and music at Freight Island!

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Freight Island

Freight Island is gearing up for an epic free festival series throughout the spring and summer months, which promises to be its ‘most electrifying season yet’.

Back open in full swing on Easter weekend, Freight Island is set to re-open fully on Friday, March 29th featuring world-renowned DJs and the city’s finest talents to present top tier entertainment.

All free to attend, this year’s epic series is set to welcome some of the music scene’s most revered talents such as David Rodigan, Greg Wilson, Norman Jay, Luke Una and his special É Soul Cultura, Crazy P (DJ Set), Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, and many more.

Freight Island

Supporting acts include some of Manchester’s most celebrated DJs and collectives, including the likes of Sit N Bun, Supernature Disco, SK1 Records, Me Gusta Collective, Semi Skimmed Edits, Ghosts of Garage, and more.

In addition to the sensational spring/summer programming, Freight Island also hosts regular events including the famous pop club night Cherrybomb, mass karaoke, creative workshops, and more. 

Continuing to champion independent traders from the North West, Freight Island will see a new addition to this year’s festival season with Liverpool institution Pattersons.

Freight Island

Guests can tuck into the North West spot’s famous mouth-watering fried chicken, which is brined for over 24 hours in Pattersons’ special mix of herbs and spices and dusted in secret recipe flour.

Hungry guests can also expect all of Freight Island’s amazing traders to be back open, including the premium smashed burgers from Burgerism, giant 22” pizza and slices from Voodoo Ray’s, slab shack from Lazy Tony’s Lasagnaria, and Indian and Nepalese street food from Payal.

As well as Greek street food from Mega Gyros, Venezuelan cuisine from Mia’s Arepas, pan-Asian cuisine from Fuku, open fire cooking from Smoking Coal, and cheesecake on a stick from Oh My Cheesecake.

Freight Island

Foodie programme resumes with Seconds carvery every Sunday, featuring quality roast meats and unlimited access to all the trimmings.

To book your FREE tickets for the Freight Island festivals, click HERE.

Freight Island opens for its epic spring/summer festival from Friday March 29th. Opening hours are Thursday from 4pm until 11pm, Friday from 4pm until 12am, Saturday from 12pm until 12am, and Sunday from 12pm until 10pm.

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Chester Zoo letting school children visit for FREE to ‘inspire new generation of conservationists’

More than 35,000 of the free educational visit tickets are up for grabs

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Chester Zoo & @chesterzoo / Instagram

Chester Zoo is inviting children in education to visit for free as part of its aim to inspire a new generation of conservationists.

Pupils from nurseries, primary, secondary schools, and colleges can take advantage of the free places, which gives them the chance to explore conservation up close at the charity’s 128-acre zoological gardens.

Running since 2017, the zoo’s free ticket scheme has already seen more than 100,000 children and young people experience the wonders the zoo has to offer. This year, more than 35,000 of the free educational visit tickets are up for grabs.

Chester Zoo

This time round, the zoo is also opening the initiative to nurseries, schools and colleges that haven’t benefited from the scheme within the last three years.

Every school participating in the programme will receive a free resource pack to help maximise the educational impact of their zoo visit.

Charlotte Smith, director of conservation education and engagement at Chester Zoo, said: “Every one of us is a custodian of our natural world but it’s the next generation of conservationists – children and young people today – who are fundamentally important to overcoming the environmental and biodiversity challenges our planet is facing.

Chester Zoo

“They are inspiring and they give us hope, which is why we’re so keen to connect them with the awe and wonder of nature and help to nurture their passion and desire to make a difference.

“It’s proven that a visit to the zoo can significantly enhance people’s understanding of the huge efforts that go into conserving highly threatened species, while also bringing physical and mental health benefits, too.

“That’s why we particularly want to reach youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds and ensure they are the primary beneficiaries of the initiative – so we can provide them with the skills and know-how to go on and make a real, positive difference to wildlife in their everyday lives.”

@chesterzoo / Instagram

Chester Zoo’s free educational visits are for between November 2024 and February 2025. 

To apply you will need to fill out an application form and submit it online. The deadline is March 22nd.

To apply for a free educational visit to Chester Zoo, click HERE.

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LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon painting to go on public display for first time in 57 years

It will go on display for the first time in 57 years before it goes to auction

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Christie's

LS Lowry’s painting Sunday Afternoon is to go on public display for the first time in 57 years.

The painting, worth more than £4 million will go on display in Christie’s London on March 13th before it goes to auction on March 20th.

Lowry, who was born in Stretford in 1887, painted industrial districts in Greater Manchester and around the North West. He mainly depicted Salford in his works.

Christie’s

Laurence Stephen Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon illustrates a densely populated industrial landscape, which shows what Lowry described as the ‘battle of life’. 

Before his death in 1976 at the age of 88, Lowry produced more than 1,000 artworks.

Auctioneers expect the painting to go for between £4 million and £6 million at the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale on March 20th.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr

The artwork was previously sold at the Christies in 1967 for a ‘record price’ and was obtained from the collection of Keith Showering, who was a former chief executive of Europe’s biggest drinks business Allied Breweries.

Phillip Harley, senior director at Christie’s, said: “Sunday Afternoon by LS Lowry will return to the public eye at Christie’s for the first time since it was last seen here 57 years ago.

“This important painting has remained in the collection of Sir Keith and Lady Showering since 1967, offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a work of this magnitude and scale.

Gerald England / Geograph

“The composition represents the wonder the artist felt as he recorded his many observations of the evolving society around him.

“We are thrilled to bring Sunday Afternoon back to auction in the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale. We look forward to welcoming our clients and visitors alike to view the painting when it goes on free display in London on 13 March.”

LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon will go on public display at the Christie’s London from March 13th to 20th.

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