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Piccadilly Gardens’ Big Ben sculpture to be taken down this weekend with 20,000 free books being given away

Fancy a free book?

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Manchester International Festival

You may or may not have noticed, but a giant Big Ben structure made up of books has been laying on its side in Piccadilly Gardens for the last couple of weeks.

The unique structure, titled ‘Big Ben Laying Down’, landed in the city centre as a part of Manchester International Festival – our very own annual arts festival shining a spotlight on local artists and performers.

The 42m replica of the iconic London landmark is made up of 20,000 copies of books that have shaped British politics. The idea behind the structure was to inspire new conversations about what we value –  conversations drawing from Manchester’s unique and independent spirit.

Manchester International Festival

Marta Minujín, the artist responsible for Manchester’s very own Big Ben, said on her creation: “People need this! We need new ideas and new places where people meet. Global symbols like Big Ben stand up straight and never change – but the world is always changing.

“Creating a new Big Ben in the North. It’s a way of being liberated from the concept of one thing or place being better than the other.  We get hold of Big Ben and take it to Manchester, it starts to be a lighter weight, as if it were a seesaw. To balance out the situation.”

But alas, all good things must come to an end.

Manchester International Festival

‘Big Ben Laying Down’ will sadly be coming all the way down this weekend, with the long process beginning this Friday, July 16th. Though there is a glimmer of good news: As the structure is gradually taken apart, the 20,000 books inside will be handed out to those who want them.

Yep, a free book – no tickets required, no strings attached. All you need to do is turn up to the structure either this Friday, 16th, Saturday, 17th or Sunday, 18th, to claim your free book. 

For more information, visit the Manchester International Festival website.

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What's On

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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Supplied

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.

Supplied


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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Billie Eilish announces FOUR Manchester shows as part of world tour

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Billie Eilish / Instagram & Co-op Live

Pop star Billie Eilish is coming to Manchester, with four dates confirmed at the new Co-op Live arena.

The Grammy and Oscar-winning pop icon will be playing Manchester’s newest arena on July 19th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd, 2025.

The dates are part of a full world tour taking place next year, in the wake of Hit Me Hard And Soft, her fourth studio album which is due out on May 17th.

The full UK dates:

  • 7 July 2025 – OVO Hydro, Glasgow
  • 8 July 2025 – OVO Hydro, Glasgow
  • 10 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 11 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 13 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 14 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 16 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 17 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 19 July 2025 – Co-op Live, Manchester
  • 20 July 2025 – Co-op Live, Manchester
  • 22 July 2025 – Co-op Live, Manchester
  • 23 July 2025 – Co-op Live, Manchester


Presale tickets go live tomorrow, Tuesday April 30th, at 12pm and are exclusive for Co-op members only.

To become a Co-op member, click HERE, and enjoy exclusive benefits.

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