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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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Manchester Christmas Markets opening date finally confirmed for 2022

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@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

It’s nearly that time of the year again, as we count down the days until Christmas – yes, it’s only September, but there’s no harm in getting excited early.

And the festive season means one thing – the return of the popular Manchester Christmas Markets.

The annual event will once again return to Manchester in 2022, and will be spread out across a number of locations in the city centre.

@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

The dates for this year’s event have now been revealed, and this year it will all kick off on Thursday November 10th.

From this date, they will be open every day until Thursday December 22nd – the main hub of markets will then close, but certain zones will reopen after Christmas and into the New Year.

This will include the Christmas ice rink at Cathedral Gardens, with the food and drink stalls at that location also reopening after Christmas Day.

David Dixon / Geograph

Last year, the main hub was located at the newly established ‘Winter Gardens’ in Piccadilly Gardens, which will be returning – the council is yet to release the full list of zones for this year, however.

It’s very likely that, as per usual, there will be stalls on Market Street, St Ann’s Square, King Street, Exchange Square and Cathedral Gardens.

Manchester’s Christmas spokesperson, Councillor Pat Karney, said: “With Christmas Day a mere three months away, that can only mean one thing – Manchester Christmas Markets Day is even sooner!

“In fact, there’s only seven weeks left to go until you can grab a gluhwein and buddy up with a bratwurst whilst checking out the fantastic Christmas gifts and goodies on the best Christmas Market in the land. Mark it on your calendars – 10 November – they’re back!”

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A huge Hot Wheels Monster Truck ‘Glow Party’ is coming to Manchester

There will be a pre-show party before each performance, giving fans the chance to get up close to their favourite Monster Trucks

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Hot Wheels

Mancunians are set for some serious nostalgia with the arrival of the iconic Hot Wheels Monster Truck ‘Glow Party’ early next year.

Following the success of its debut in the US, family entertainment tour Hot Wheels Monster Trucks will be bringing its ‘Glow Party’ experience across the pond to Europe.

And in January next year, the battling monster trucks will roll into Manchester’s AO Arena for a two-night residency.

The ‘thrilling’ new experience is set to give audiences the chance to watch their favourite Hot Wheels Monster Trucks, including the likes of Mega Wrex, Tiger Shark, Boneshaker, Bigfoot, and the all-new Gunkster light up the floor.

Hot Wheels

There will be an exciting ‘Crash Zone’ pre-show party before each performance, giving fans access to the competition floor to get up close to the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks and get an autograph from their favourite drivers and performers.

Tim McWilliams, the Senior Vice President of Touring and International Music at Live Nation, said: “We are thrilled to be embarking on our third UK tour of Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live.

“As the world’s largest live-entertainment company, we are part of many incredible shows, but Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live provides a new dimension in family entertainment that never fails to impress.

“We can’t wait for these shows so we can all join the Glow Party.”

Hot Wheels

And speaking ahead of the event’s arrival next year, the CEO of Family Entertainment Live Ken Hudgens added: “With the success of the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Glow Party thus far, we’re excited to continue the amazing experience into 2023 internationally.”

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Glow Party will be taking over Manchester’s AO Arena on Saturday January 14th and Sunday January 15th 2023.

Tickets are on sale now, with each one including an autograph card, a souvenir pass, and lanyard exclusive to Crash Zone attendees.

Get tickets here.

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Manchester’s ‘first public city centre park’ to open this week

The park has been in the works for the last six years

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Mayfield Park

Manchester’s first city centre park in over 100 years is set to open to the public this week.

Over the last eighteen months, the derelict space next to Piccadilly Station has been transformed into Mayfield Park, a stunning, accessible and varied green space for everyone to enjoy.

The planning, design and delivery of the park has been in the works for over six years, with it receiving £23m of investment from the government’s Getting Building Fund in 2020.

This investment, delivered through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), is part of the Government’s strategy to support ‘shovel ready’ schemes that will help to drive economic recovery following the Covid pandemic.

Martin Moss

And this Thursday (September 22nd), Mayfield Park’s main entrance on Baring Street will officially open to the public.

The park will then be open seven days a week from dawn until dusk, providing local residents, visitors and communities across Manchester with a ‘city centre oasis of green space and beautifully landscaped river walkways’.

Martyn Evans, Creative Director at U+I, the regeneration company leading the Mayfield development on behalf of the Mayfield Partnership, described the opening as a ‘momentous day for Mayfield and for Manchester’.

He said: “The greatest cities in the world offer a true blend of amazing culture, great architecture and green space. Manchester is one such city and Mayfield Park adds a significant piece of new, family-friendly, inclusive green space to the city centre.

Martin Moss

“It’s been a true team effort with our project team and our partners at Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and LCR working closely with local building contractors PP O’Connor to deliver the park.

“We are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and we’re excited to welcome our first visitors on 22nd September.”

The leader of Manchester City Council, Cllr Bev Craig, added: “It’s with excitement then that we can look ahead to the official opening of the city centre’s first public park in 100 years later this week.

“We know the massive health and well-being benefits that green spaces can have for our residents and increasing access to parks for our residents is a key priority for us. Mayfield will be a 6.5 acre oasis at the heart of our city.

Mayfield Park

“Green investment is fundamental to our wider ambitions to improve air quality and underpins our work to strengthen Manchester’s resilience to climate change.

“Mayfield is a park first and foremost, but it is also a statement that development in the city can and should celebrate green spaces to become a focal point in our communities.

“Importantly, Mayfield also represents a significant economic boost for Manchester. The partnership has shopped local when procuring contractors to make sure that employment opportunities have benefited local companies and local people first.

“During the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, it’s this type of development that provides the jobs that our residents need – and makes sure Manchester people continue to share in the success of our city.”

Mayfield Park will open to the public on Thursday September 22nd at 12:30pm. For more information, visit the Mayfield website.

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