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Manchester’s legendary Contact Theatre is celebrating its 50th birthday with a series of giveaways

Contact kick started festivities this week with a fifty hour poet lock-in…

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Adrian Lambert & Drew Wilby

Manchester’s historic Contact Theatre is marking its fiftieth birthday this month and, to celebrate, is throwing a whole host of unique and exciting events and giveaways.

The theatre, which recently underwent a massive £6m refurbishment, opened all the way back in 1972 as the Manchester Young People’s Theatre, with it eventually changing its name to Contact Theatre in the 1990s.

The theatre was made a reality by Hugh Hunt, the man responsible for producing and directing some of the UK’s most successful and critically acclaimed shows throughout the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.

After serving in the war, Hunt settled in Manchester and founded the drama department at the university, eventually instigating the University Theatre building which opened in 1965.

Adrian Lambert

Contact Theatre was born nearly a decade later to give students and other young people a chance to ‘change their lives through the arts’, taking on a unique approach of placing the students at the heart of everything, including programming, decision-making and even staff appointments.

It was revolutionary for its time, and still is to this very day, fifty years on. So, to celebrate half a century of Contact Theatre, there’s a whole host of very special events and giveaways… fifty of them, to be precise.

Contact has already kickstarted its eclectic roster of events, activities, competitions and giveaways to mark the special anniversary, with the theatre starting celebrations with its first ever ‘Poet Lock-In’ earlier this week.

This saw poet Georgie Brooke be locked in the building for fifty long hours to write a fifty word poem.

Joel Chester Fildes

Other events on the line up include a 50m walk, which will see the first person seen receive a £50 ticket voucher, and 50% off shows for Contact members.

And throughout November, anyone who calls Contact on the fiftieth minute of the hour gets a 50p ticket to a show and, on National Hot Chocolate Day, there will be a free hot chocolate given to the first fifty people in the building.

Keisha Thompson, Artistic Director and CEO of Contact said: “Contact has been a huge part of my life for almost two decades, but our organisation’s incredible history, and its impact on Manchester, reaches far beyond that.

“I’m so excited to look back at our achievements during our birthday, but even more excited to set the vision for what the next fifty years of Contact could look like.”

For the listings of all of Contact’s 50th birthday celebrations, including exclusive productions, events, workshops and more, head on over to their website.

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Huge beer festival with more than 500 different varieties coming to Manchester

Can’t wait for this!

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Manchester Craft Beer Festival

Manchester Craft Beer Festival is back for another year, bringing with it more than 80 breweries and 500 different beers to sample.

The fourth edition of the festival will be taking place at Depot Mayfield on Friday July 5th and Saturday July 6th.

Cloudwater, Track, Marble, Northern Monk, Bundobust, Sureshot and Seven Brothers will be there to represent Manchester, alongside other UK stalwarts like Deya, Verdant, Siren and Leeds’ North Brewing Co.

Manchester Craft Beer Festival


Heritage breweries like Timothy Taylor’s, Chouffe and Timmermans will also be there, as well as international breweries from the US, Greece, Spain and Australia.

There will also be some great food options to line your stomach, including bao buns, crispy chicken and katsu tater tots at Bone Daddies, as well as Almost Famous, Bundobust, MorMor and Voodoo Rays.

Manchester Craft Beer Festival


Greg Wells, director of Manchester Craft Beer Festival, said: “It’s been a disheartening year for Manchester’s beer scene so far with closure of the beloved Indy Beer Con Fest and the unsuccessful debut of the International Brewing and Cider Festival, but we’re pleased to announce our return and bring more of what has been loved in the past three years.

“With even more breweries and experiences on offer and larger capacity this year, we’re buzzing to be back to satisfy all the beer lovers out there.

“The addition of a complimentary trade session to our programme is all about promoting this world class beer city and a small gesture to support all the incredible people who work across the drinks and hospitality industries.

“We all have a mutual understanding of the hardships our industries have faced in recent times so we thought it’d be a nice gesture to get everyone together for the love of drinks, food and music to celebrate beer and ourselves!”

Manchester Craft Beer Festival


The entry price includes all your drinks throughout your session, as well as festival glass and access to all the events happening.

And as it’s on during the Euros, it will be screening the football too.

Day tickets cost £57 per day session – with a discount for four tickets – or £145 for the whole weekend. Grab tickets HERE.

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New makers market with everything from dog accessories to house plants and jewellery coming to Manchester

Get this one in your diary!

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A brand new makers market is coming to Manchester this late May Bank Holiday weekend, with something for everyone.

Taking place at New Jackson – a new urban neighbourhood located at the southern gateway to the city – Manchester Made Market will be held on Saturday May 25th and Sunday May 26th.

Over the two days you’ll be able to browse a selection of local artisanal traders and small businesses from across the region.

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There’ll be everything, from food produce, homewares, crafts and creations to dog accessories, house plants, jewellery and homemade soap.

Among the traders will be Manchester and Cheshire-based florist and floral artists Dot & Flora, graphic artist Ablott MCR selling music prints, HGT with crochet fashion and homeware designs, and artisan candlemakers Leaves and Prickles.

Elsewhere, there will be essential oils and other treatments from Grounded Wellness, permanent jewellery from Sealed Links, and desserts from Cake With Heart.

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There will be plenty of street food options to keep you topped up while you shop, including The Wild Grill, Food Sorcery, Salvi’s and new favourite Medlock Canteen.


Neighbourhood Brew will be supplying some great drinks as well.

Supported by Renaker, the market is free, but you can upgrade your experience with a limited, free VIP ticket with access to the dedicated bar area.

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Manchester Flower Festival returns with tributes to Sarah Harding and Caroline Aherne

It’s taking place later this month!

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The Vain Photography / Manchester Flower Festival

The legendary Manchester Flower Festival is returning to our city later this month, complete with pop-ups, installations and tributes to some local icons.

Taking place over the late May Bank Holiday, the event will be headlined by its ‘Floral Trail’.

This year’s theme is Manchester Icons, with a host of names past and present being honoured in flower form, including the late comedy legend Caroline Aherne, pop star Sarah Harding and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

The Vain Photography / Manchester Flower Festival

Collaborating with Manchester illustrator Stanley Chow, floral designer Liv Woodward will create a portrait of Caroline Aherne at the Floral Marquee on New Cathedral Street, using sustainably sourced plants and flowers.

Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding will be remembered in a ‘tribute garden’, sponsored by the AO Arena, with visitors able to donate to the Sarah Harding Breast Cancer Appeal by scanning the QR code at the display.

The homage to Pankhurst has been created by female-led Decordia, featuring an ornate wooden Manchester Town Hall-inspired planter with sashes, posters and colourful icons, alongside a wicker figure of the suffragette herself.

This can be found at the corner of Cross Street and King Street, adorned with purple, green and white plants – the colours of the suffragette movement.

The Vain Photography / Manchester Flower Festival

Other local legends will also be honoured with their own installations, including Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta and iconic Manchester brewery Boddingtons .

Fringe events will be taking place too, at locations including Northern Quarter art shop Fred Aldous, The Bridgewater Hall, the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel and the National Trust’s Castlefield Viaduct.

Selfridges Exchange Square, El Gato Negro, Tast Catala, Franco Manca, Grand Pacific Manchester and Urban Playground will also be taking part, with alfresco dining, festival-related dishes and cocktails.

The Vain Photography / Manchester Flower Festival

Now in its seventh year, the Flower Festival, which is put together by Manchester City Centre Business Improvement District, attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year, with live entertainment, workshops, and arts and crafts markets.

It all happens from May 24th to May 27th – head over to the website HERE to find more information.

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