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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.

Happy reading! 

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The magical Harry Potter Forbidden Forest experience is now open and it looks incredible

A truly spell-binding experience (pun fully intended)

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@aimeesiou & @fiona_beer / Instagram

Calling all Harry Potter fans: An enchanting forest trail inspired by the wizarding world of Harry Potter has officially open in Cheshire.

Warner Brothers Themed Entertainment has teamed up with Thinkwell to bring the Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience to the UK, with it usually taking place in the United States.

And luckily for us here in the North West, the immersive attraction is located in the beautiful woodlands at Arley Hall & Gardens – just a thirty minute drive from Manchester – and has been giving fans of the magical franchise the unique chance to experience the world of Harry Potter for themselves. 

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@aimeesiou / Instagram

Visitors have been making their way through the magical woodland via an illuminated path on which they will discover not only a whole array of surprises, but some of their favourite moments from the books and the films such as Mr. Weasley’s temperamental flying car and Hagrid’s pet Hippogriff, Buckbeak. 

After watching the beautiful forest come to life, visitors can then go on to enjoy a wide range of food and drinks at the nearby village – as well as a pint of Butterbeer, of course – before browsing in the on-site shop for Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts merchandise to take home.

Peter van Roden, Senior Vice President of Warner Bros Themed Entertainment, said: “The Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience offers fans a new way to enjoy some of the most iconic and magical wizarding world moments.

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“We’re thrilled to be working alongside Thinkwell to bring this incredible light trail to life at Arley Hall & Gardens, a perfect location where the natural beauty of the forest trail and illuminated sets filled with familiar creatures from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series, will make for a magical experience for fans of all ages.”

The trail follows a one-way route through the gardens, and is also fully accessible to all. It is also Covid secure in adherence with the latest Government safety guidelines.

Harry Potter: A Forbiden Forest Experience will be at Arley Hall & Gardens until November 22nd – grab tickets here.

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The legendary Haçienda Classical night is returning to Warehouse Project next month

Proper Manchester readers can get an exclusive price on tickets too…

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Hacienda Classical at the Warehouse Project
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For the first time in two years, the iconic orchestral club night Haçienda Classical is returning to The Warehouse Project. 

The famed Depot Mayfield club night will be hosting the critically acclaimed music series, which sees an experimental orchestra reinterpret seminal dance classics alongside DJ Graeme Park, Manchester Camerata and a number of other special musical guests such as the AMC Choir, who will perfectly blend both House and Gospel. 

Hacienda Classical’s last residency at Depot Mayfield in 2019 was widely regarded as one of the best nights of the year among the city’s clubbers so the demand for this year’s show, which is scheduled for Saturday November 13th, has been rife. 

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Haçienda Classical will again include orchestral renditions of much loved classic club records from The Haçienda’s heritage, while also bringing new additions and arrangements of seminal tracks to the set.

The Warehouse Project show comes as part of Haçienda Classical’s nation-wide tour, which has included sell-out shows at Manchester’s iconic gig location Castlefield Bowl and the Printworks in London.

DJ Graeme Park said on the return of the iconic club night: “After a year of frustration, I’m excited that Haçienda Classical is back to thrill the nation with positivity and love.

“I’ve never been more ready to return to the stage with the whole crew to share the joy with some big new songs as well as some massive favourites too. I’m pretty sure the country is ready to share the love too.”

@whp_mcr / Instagram

Musical director Tim Crooks added: “I’ve spent the past year thinking how incredible the post-lockdown gigs will feel, and the long wait is finally over. I can’t wait to feel the noise and see that pent-up energy explode. It’s going to be something very, very special.”

And, as an exclusive treat, all you lovely Proper Manchester readers will be able to get your hands on tickets at a special price of £25pp. Don’t say we don’t treat you. 

The show will take place on Saturday November 13th and tickets are on sale NOW – get yours with the special price offer here

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NEW OPENING: A huge hotel with free cocktails and pet-friendly bedrooms is coming to Manchester

Moxy Hotels will be bringing its ‘play and stay’ concept to Manchester

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Moxy Hotels

A massive new hotel coming to Spinningfields next month promises to provide ‘affordable fun’ accommodation in the elusive neighbourhood. 

The Moxy Manchester City Hotel, a Marriott concept from KE Hotels, which has hotels located in North America, Asia and Europe, will be transforming Invicta House into a luxury new accommodation complex, complete with 146 bedrooms and a cocktail bar, all while preserving the building’s eighteenth century charm.

Moxy Hotels stray from the typical routine adopted by most hotels; rather than arriving at a traditional check-in desk guests will instead be sent straight to the bar, where they will receive their room key alongside a complimentary cocktail on the house.

@moxyhotels / Instagram

Moxy Hotels

Their Manchester venture will stand at nine storeys tall, with the rooms including state-of-the-art features such as walk-in showers, TVs with Netflix, motion-activated LED lights, plush platform beds, workspaces and lounge chairs.

Each room will also be pet friendly, in case you needed any more convincing.

Over on the food and drink front, Bar Moxy will be dishing up a mix of cocktails, beers and wines alongside a selection of tasty small plates. There will also be a barista counter serving snacks and drinks twenty-four hours a day.

Director at KE Hotels Anil Khanna said on the new Manchester venture: “Moxy Manchester City will be a new playground for the neighbourhood and city.

@moxyhotels / Instagram

Moxy Hotels

“Our play and stay concept is a new way of travelling, designed to give guests everything they want at an affordable price.

“Located in the city’s vibrant Spinningfields district, Moxy Manchester City won’t take itself too seriously, but it is serious about showing guests a good time. We have smartly spaced rooms, stylish communal areas that are ideal for work and meetings, and a new cool bar for the city.

“We wanted the design of the building to fuse together traditional and contemporary – the exterior is stunning and something very unique, whilst the hotel’s interior will feature nods towards the building’s industrial past.”

Moxy Manchester City will open on Atkinson Street in Spinningfields in November. Visit the Moxy Hotels website for more information.

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