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Manchester International Festival starts tomorrow with loads of exciting free events to explore

Here’s what’s on…

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Manchester International Festival

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for – after weeks of build up, the highly anticipated Manchester International Festival 2021 is officially launching tomorrow.

Running for over two weeks until July 18th, the annual festival boasts a whole array of exciting and – most importantly – free events for people from all over the region to take part in and enjoy. 

And, to kick start the festivities tomorrow, MIF is pulling out all the stops with a spectacular dance performance takeover down Deansgate.

@mifestival / Instagram

Described as a ‘human flip book sprung to life on the streets of Manchester’, Sea Change will feature 150 of Greater Manchester’s residents in a beautiful celebration of post-lockdown life, choreographed by French choreographer Boris Charmatz. 

Sea Change will fill Deansgate with a chain of both professional and non-professional dancers, each performing and repeating a section of unique choreography.

Rather than the work moving on in front of you, it’ll be up to you to ‘move on’ the work: walking or even running past waves of dancers to animate the action into your very own living flip book.

@mifestival / Instagram

Charmatz said of the immersive performance: “Designed as both a large festive gathering and a work of art, Sea Change works on two levels: viewers will perceive a single organism, one single continuous movement made by the many, and each participant singularly embodying the piece.”

Sea Change is completely free to attend, but tickets are required – get yours here.

And that is only the beginning – throughout the next few weeks, MIF will be hosting a whole array of exciting and free events, performances and exhibitions.

Festival Square, the home of the entire event, will be taking over Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens where there will be a whole array of food and drink stalls and free entertainment from international artists and Greater Manchester-based performers – including curated nights from Jamz Supernova, Homoelectric, Mr Scruff and DJ Paulette.

@mifestival / Instagram

There will also be the Global Playground, an uplifting new show mixing dance, music, theatre and puppetry tailored specifically for children and family audiences.

On the artistry front, guests can enjoy a whole array of cultured and thought-provoking exhibitions, such as the Portrait of Black Britain –  a powerful and timely exhibition by artist, activist and campaigner Cephas Williams posing a timely and poignant question: ‘What does it mean to be Black, living in the UK?’ This will be found in the Manchester Arndale. 

Captioning the City will also give residents the opportunity to explore around the city centre and experience Manchester in a whole new dimension.

To see the whole list of events taking place over the next few weeks and to book tickets, visit the official Manchester International Festival website here.

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What's On

Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s Halloween event is so terrifying it comes with a warning

The Journey to Hell Freak Nights are shrouded in controversy…

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Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach has unveiled its event line-up for Halloween and, let’s just say, it isn’t for the faint of heart.

A number of creepy going-ons will be taking place across the spooky season, including the Day of the Dead Ghost Train, a Scare Maze, The Circus of Horrors and the theme park’s resident werewolf Lougarock, who will prowl the park on his motorbike looking for unsuspecting victims.

And on Halloween itself, the park will be running all of its rollercoasters until 10pm for their Late Night Riding programme, which will allow guests to enjoy their favourite rides in the darkness of night.

@pleasure_beach / Instagram

But perhaps the most formidable event on the bill is the infamous Journey to Hell Freak Nights, terrifying, experience led events featuring live actors through nine themed areas of Blackpool Pleasure Beach after closing time. 

Bosses at the theme park have previously said that the Journey To Hell Freak Nights ‘set a new bar for the fear factor’, prompting a warning to prospective visitors.

The events warning includes latex, confined spaces, uneven surfaces, damp conditions, offensive language, blackout hoods, low/no visibility, loud noises and strobe lighting.

It was also advised that the whole experience is a ‘physically demanding environment and is in no way suitable for those with a nervous or weak disposition.’

@pleasure_beach / Instagram

Journey to Hell takes place on selected nights from October 8th to 31st after the amusement park has closed to the public – scare zones include The Legend of the Cursed River Caves, Blind Faith, Day of the Dead, the BIG Dark Abyss and more.

Some scare zones will also incorporate ride experiences, including intense high-speed rollercoasters.

If you manage to survive the Journey To Hell, you’ll be able to celebrate with your favourite ‘guys and ghouls’ at the Devils Gate where there will be food, drinks and live entertainment.

Feel brave enough? Tickets for the Journey To Hell are priced at £32pp and are available here. Meanwhile, visit the Blackpool Pleasure Beach website for more information on their Halloween events.

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Alton Towers’ Scarefest is back with a new ‘killer clown maze’ and rides in the dark

As well as new mazes and features, Alton Towers will be bringing back their late night rollercoaster rides

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Alton Towers

Alton Towers has brought back its popular Scarefest event just in time for Halloween, and it features some wonderfully spooky new surprises.

The popular theme park has always gone all out for Halloween, but it was the birth of Scarefest in 2007 that really kick-started the park’s love for all things spooky – and this year could be their biggest and scariest yet.

So, what’s on the bill?

Well, brand new for this year Alton Towers has introduced its Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard, a spine-tingling maze full of ‘killer clowns’ looking for victims to feature in their next ‘big show’. Guests will be required to make their way through the maze to stop the clowns’ evil plans… though they’ll have to work very hard in order to not get caught themselves.

Alton Towers

Also on the maze front, the theme park is hosting the Darkest Depths, a nautical-themed maze telling the story of The Mutiny Ship which was pulled to the bottom of the sea by the Kracken.

Guests will have to make their way through the ‘ship’ while a number of ghoulish pirates lurk in the shadows. 

Though there has also been the return of old Scarefest favourites such as The Attic: Terror of the Towers, which has made a comeback for 2021. This maze is set in the rooftops of the Alton ruins, and is based on the story of the governess who is said to haunt the ruins in revenge for the death of two young children she once cared for.

The Altonville Mine Tours are also back for another year, telling the eerie tale of the ‘skin snatchers’, who are rumoured to have lived down in the mines as outcasts from society. Guests will get a tour of the old mines, though they need to beware as, according to rumours, some of the ‘skin snatchers’ still live in the darkness…

Alton Towers

Oh, and as per tradition, Alton Towers will be operating all of its most popular rollercoasters such as The Smiler, Oblivion, The Wickerman and Nemesis until 9pm, so ultimate thrill-seekers can enjoy the unique experience of night-time rides.

There is also a number of new activities ideal for families and for those with younger children, such as the Alton Towers’ Trick O’ Treat Town, an immersive indoor walk through a fictional town featuring Treat Street, Witchy Woods, The Graveyard and The Hill.

In true trick or treating style, families can knock on doors to be greeted with either a handout of sweets or a squirt of a water pistol – the risk is yours to take.

Scarefest will be running for the rest of the month until Halloween, October 31st. For more information and to book tickets, visit the Alton Towers website here.

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Plans for new £300m leisure complex in Blackpool with three theme parks given go ahead

Blackpool Pleasure Beach bosses have opposed the plans, saying they will ‘threaten the existence’ of the park

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Nikal Ltd

An ambitious £300m leisure complex plan for Blackpool Central has this week been given the go-ahead by the council. 

According to the BBC, councillors have backed plans to create a heritage quarter on Central Drive in Blackpool including three indoor theme parks, an artisan food hall, boutique holiday apartments and an outdoor entertainment space.

Other plans include converting the Grade II-listed former King Edward VII Cinema into a food hall with outdoor dining areas, refurbishing the locally-listed King Edward VII pub and turning the King Edward VII apartment building into a hotel.

Nikal Ltd

A 1,306 space seven-storey car park – which will be the first part of the scheme completed by developers Nikal Ltd and Media Invest Entertainment – has also been approved. 

Richard Fee, chief executive of Nikal, said on the ambitious project: “This is a key moment for levelling up Blackpool’s visitor economy post Covid. Blackpool Central will help transform and future-proof the town’s tourism offer, and last night’s approval is an important step forward in our journey.”

However, not everyone is too keen on the idea of more theme parks along Blackpool’s promenade; Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool’s massively popular sea-front theme park, has objected to the plans, saying three new theme parks will ‘undermine’ its tourism offer.

Nick Laister, representing the park, said there would be nothing to stop the developers installing mechanical rides rather than delivering a unique new experience for Blackpool visitors.

He said: “You are being asked to approve another theme park in Blackpool which will directly undermine Blackpool Pleasure Beach which is a major resort core attraction.”

However, committee chairman Councillor David Owen said he doesn’t believe Blackpool Central would ‘be any significant competition’ to the Pleasure Beach, saying, as per the Blackpool Gazette: “I honestly think the Pleasure Beach has always been the major attraction in Blackpool. It always has been since it started, it has always replenished itself.”

The leisure complex is predicted to be fully complete in ten years time, with work starting next year in 2022.

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