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Oxford Road’s Contact Theatre is officially reopening following £6m transformation

Contact is BACK, and it’s looking better than ever before…

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Adrian Lambert

Following its closure in 2018, Oxford Road’s iconic Contact Theatre is officially reopening its doors following a massive £6 million building transformation.

Having established itself back in 1972, Contact has long been a staple part of Manchester’s theatre scene, and has provided a stage for an abundance of budding artists and performers over the years – and now, it’s officially making its long-awaited comeback. 

The newly refurbished Contact is returning with a whole host of exciting new facilities under its belt, such as new and improved performance spaces, a purpose-built recording studio for young people’s music projects, a unique health and science development space created in partnership with Wellcome Trust, new offices for artists and cultural organisations to hire, a new and improved public bar and free work and social spaces.

Adrian Lambert

Adrian Lambert

Contact has also secured a partnership with Manchester’s Indian street food icons, Chaat Cart, as well as a number of other exciting new ventures that are yet to be unveiled.

On the theatrical side of things, the theatre’s performance programme will be kicking off in October with Contact Young Company’s Everything All of the Time, a physical and visual journey through a new world, directed by Contact’s Artistic Director, Matt Fenton. Following that, ERGON Theatre will present The Wicked Problem, an immersive performance where audiences will act as the jury in the world’s first ecocide trial.

Mika Onyx-Johnson’s Pink Lemonade is also on the bill, combining original beats, poetry and movement in an explosive autobiographical journey of sexuality, identity and self-discovery. Dibby Theatre and theatre-maker and star of the hit Channel 4 series, It’s a Sin, Nathaniel Hall will present First Time, an award-winning autobiographical show about growing up positive in a negative world.

The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball, a collaboration by Contact and House of Ghetto will be hosted in December by the legendary Rikki Beadle-Blair at music venue Gorilla. Contact will also be home to Dick Whittington and his Cat, Eight-Freestyle’s modern, upbeat telling of the classic rags-to-riches story.

Bronwen Sharp

Graham Clayton-Chance

Additional events, shows and exhibitions on the bill include Sisterhood by Speakers Corner Art Director Neesha Tusli Champaneria and photographer Vivek Vadoliya, Come to my Mum’s by Afreena Islam-Wright and Anthology of Joy by The Museum of Half Truths.

Matt Fenton, Chief Executive and Artistic Director at Contact, said on the reopening: “We are overjoyed to be reopening Contact to the public after two years of building works and the challenges of the global pandemic.

“We believe young people deserve the very best resources to create and imagine, and over the last year our new building has been full of early career artists making use of our brilliant new spaces. We have also renewed our vision and mission to reflect the new reality facing our communities, and to ensure all young people are empowered by the arts and creativity.”

For more information, tickets, show times and general updates, head over to the official Contact website and Instagram page.

The full programme listing is as follows:

Everything All of the Time

Wednesday October 6th – Saturday October 9th 2021

Sisterhood

Monday September 27th  – Monday December 6th 2021

Open exhibition

Anthology of Joy

Friday October 8th – Saturday October 23rd 2021

Open exhibition

Black Gold Arts Festival

Tuesday october 19th – Friday October 29th 2021

Ergon: The Wicked Problem

Wednesday November 3rd – Saturday November 6th 2021

Pink Lemonade

Tuesday November 23rd – Saturday November 27th 2021

First Time

Tuesday November 30th – Saturday December 4th 2021

House of Ghetto presents The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball

Thu December 18th 2021

Dick Whittington and his Amazing Cat

Saturday December 11th 2021 – Monday January 3rd 2022 

Queer Contact

Friday February 11th – Saturday February 19th 2022

News News News

Saturday March 5th 2022

The Bread We Break

Thursday March 24th – Thursday March 31st 2022

Frankenstein: How to Create a Monster

Monday May 9th – Saturday May 14th 2022

The Glad Game

Monday May 16th – Tuesday May 17th 2022

 

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Kids can become pilots at Manchester Airport’s immersive Flight Academy

Kids will be able to to sit in the cockpit and even ‘take control’ of the flight deck

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Manchester Airport Flight Academy

Manchester Airport will be giving children a taste of what life as a pilot is like with the return of its immersive Flight Academy.

The unique programme, which has been popular among families for several years, is now accepting bookings for a number of dates across the February half-term, with ninety minute-long sessions been split into two age groups – one for children aged four to seven years and another for those aged eight to twelve.

In these sessions, children will be able to learn about all the different jobs that help to keep Manchester Airport running and in action throughout the year.

The first part of the session takes place aboard a retired DC10 airliner, where youngsters will get the chance to sit in the cockpit, learn about roles such as cabin crew and ground operators, and even ‘take control’ of the flight deck.

Manchester Airport Flight Academy

Then, the budding pilots can head outside to take a look at Manchester Airport’s runways, watch a variety of aircraft as they take off and land, and witness some of the jobs they’ve learned about in action.

Once the session has ended, visiting families will be able to enjoy the Runway Visitor Park’s acclaimed facilities, which includes stunning views over the airfield.

Sights to see include watching aircraft such as the giant A380 coming and going at close quarters, taking in a tour of the Park’s retired airliners including the iconic Concorde, and making use of a sizeable play area and on-site café. Attractions cater to everyone from casual visitors to aviation enthusiasts.

Robert Hassard, Runway Visitor Park Manager, said: “The Flight Academy programme has been running for many years now and is back by popular demand this February half-term.

“This is a unique family experience that has inspired many youngsters to consider a career in aviation. The RVP offers a great value day out for visitors of all ages.”

Manchester Airport Flight Academy

Also on the bill at the airport during the half-term is the ‘Midweek Madness’ short tours of the famous Concorde; this twenty minute-long tour will allow visitors to sit where royalty and celebrities once sat, whilst also discovering the history of the innovative aircraft. These tours will be available on Wednesday February 16th and Thursday February 24th.

Flight Academy tickets for one adult and one child cost just £10, with parking available to those taking part for the full day at the reduced rate of £5.

The Flight Academy dates are as follows:

  • Wednesday February 16th
  • Friday February 18th
  • Sunday February 20th
  • Wednesday February 23rd
  • Thursday February 24th
  • Friday February 25th

For more information and get booked in, visit the Runway Visitor Park website.

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What's On

A huge cheese and wine crawl is happening across Manchester

Pub crawls are out, cheese crawls are in

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Northern Soul & Pxhere

While the humble pub crawl may be one of the UK’s most beloved and sacred traditions, a new type of day-time activity has rolled into town…

The cheese crawl.

It’s exactly what it sounds like; the finest cheeses Manchester has to offer are being wrapped up in a massive two-hour-long crawl across the city.

The festivities kick off at the Richard Cobden Statue on St Anns Square, where avid ‘cheeseaholics’ will be treated to a cheesy quiz and a glass of wine. 

Cheese Crawl

Then, they’ll be on their way to to some of Manchester’s most prestigious cheese establishments, where they can also learn all the secrets of fine cheese making.

Cheese crawlers will also be introduced to some of the city’s best cheese mongers, as well as a selection of speciality shops you just ‘camembert’ to stay away from… Sorry. 

Manchester’s cheese crawl has had glowing reviews from satisfied cheese lovers so far, with one person noting the experience as “a really nice way to spend a couple of hours… Friendly and fun guide with lots of cheese knowledge and jokes.”

Another person wrote: “Really fun and interesting, would recommend this to anyone who loves cheese.”

Cheese Crawl

Sold!

If you’re interested in taking part on the cheesiest pub crawl of your life, tickets are £25pp and include a fromage amount of cheese samples – some of which might not be suitable for vegetarians – bread, crackers and wine.

You’ll have a choice between 12.00pm or 3.00pm for start times, and the event is running most weekends until the end of the year. 

For tickets and more information, click here.

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What's On

New images show plans for Manchester’s ‘first city centre park’ featuring see-through slide over River Medlock

Mayfield Play Park will feature eight slides, elevated rope bridges and a number of crawl tunnels

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The Mayfield Partnership

Dazzling new images have revealed the vision for Manchester’s ‘first city centre public park’ currently under construction at Mayfield.

The images, shared with the Manchester Evening News by developer The Mayfield Partnership, show how the park’s unique design will be formed around six dramatic towers, all of which will reach ten metres in height and will be shaped like chimneys in tribute to Manchester’s industrial past.

The park, named ‘Mayfield Play Yard’, will cater to children of all ages and abilities with crawl tunnels, elevated rope bridges, eight slides and wheelchair accessible play equipment, and will span more than 6.5-acres in size, making it the largest public playground in the city.

There will also be an 18m-long see-through slide crossing over the newly-restored River Medlock, featuring clear polycarbonate windows.

Mayfield Partnership

Mayfield Partnership

Mayfield Play Park comes as part of the £1.4billion regeneration project at Mayfield, which includes the construction of thousands of new homes, offices and leisure attractions. The project has been brought to life by The Mayfield Partnership, a public private joint venture partnership between LCR, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and regeneration specialist U+I. 

A statement on the Mayfield website reads: “Together, we have a vision for a bustling, buzzing, inclusive world-class urban neighbourhood that’s like nowhere else in the city. We want to create an area with soul that’s a magnet for families, businesses and visitors. 

“The long-term plan for Mayfield is to create an iconic, £1bn mixed-use community over the next 10 years, including a 6.5-acre public park, outstanding office space, and unique shopping and leisure experiences.

“Rest assured, as partners we’ve got the skills, experience, intelligence, imagination and audacity to turn the Mayfield vision into a brilliant reality that everyone in Manchester can be proud of.”

Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig added: “Mayfield is one of the key developments creating new opportunities, and crucially significant new public green space for Manchester people to enjoy, in the coming years. The opening of the new park later this year will be a big moment.

“It’s incredibly well-connected, close to Piccadilly Station and will help enhance links with Ardwick, Ancoats and New Islington.

“It’s another vibrant symbol of ongoing confidence in the city’s recovery from the economic impacts of the pandemic and I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to showcase it to a senior government figure.”

Mayfield Play Park is set for completion this autumn. For more information and updates, visit the Mayfield website.

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