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There’s a Brexit Escape Room in Manchester and it’s scarily realistic

Leave or Remain?

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Whichever side of the Brexit debate you’re on, the one thing I think we can all be united in is the fact that the whole process has been a complete unremitting disaster, which has not only divided the country, but also made us an international laughing stock. Merry Christmas!

With much of the debate just seeming to centre around people on both sides trying to shout or condescend their opinion into the brains of people with a differing view, a bit of a light-hearted escape from the whole thing sounded fun to me. An escape room, to be more precise. 

Alternate Escapes, one of the residents at the new Pollard Yard, located on Pollard Street next to Wellington Mill – a hub for creative independent businesses housed in repurposed shipping containers, run by a company called Meanwhile Creative – offers themed escape room challenges. The current theme is The Battle of Brexit and there are new themes in the pipeline for 2020.  

Ben Fowler, the man behind Alternate Escapes, explains: “The escape room is about giving people the chance to take a fairly exhausting, serious topic, and enjoy it in a far more light-hearted and satirical way”. 

Before you start you have to pick a side: Remain or Leave. We picked Remain, and you have a quick introduction in a separate cabin to go over the rules.

The set up being that our host is our campaign manager, and he has surreptitiously gained access to our rivals HQ for a short time and in the true spirit of real life Brexit, our objective is to try and gather sensitive, confidential information to besmirch our rivals by seeding their grubby secrets out to the press. 

It’s not really a case of escaping per se, but if you get all the secret documents, you succeed in destroying your rivals credibility, and ultimately win your chosen Brexit outcome. Or you fail, and they win. 

It was at this moment I made a decision. When I was younger, if there was a big football game approaching, I’d often play the game virtually on Fifa beforehand, deciding that whatever the outcome on Fifa would be the outcome in real life in some sort of inexplicable cosmic quirk, with myself at the centre of the universe. 

That’s what I decided would happen with Brexit, 100%, without question. Whatever happened in our Battle of Brexit escape room would manifest in real life. 

Naturally, being an escape room, they haven’t made it easy. In order to get our hands on confidential documents we have to work out access to various cupboards, drawers, cabinets, lockers and rooms by following a series of cryptic clues dotted around, with our campaign manager watching over from our HQ and able to provide clues on a screen occasionally, for which you’re notified by a little gong sound.


One such gong during our session was to dissuade one of our team Danny from trying to hack into a tablet, which we weren’t quite ready to use at that stage as we hadn’t discovered the clue to do so yet. 

While Danny didn’t quite manage to hack into the rival’s profile, he did somehow manage to log out of it completely and, impressively, hack in to the Alternate Escapes chap’s girlfriend’s personal profile, which we quickly were notified wasn’t part of our game, leaving us having to un-hack and re-hack back in when we were ready.  It was some serious espionage. 

I’ve done a couple of escape rooms before, with mixed success and experiences, and this one was well put together, good fun, and actually quite tough. It’s a simple-looking layout at first, but the complexity of it builds out as the game progresses. 

We had waves of being pretty prolific, then hitting a roadblock, with each new discovery greeted with a collective cheer. With actual seconds to spare, we managed to get the last clue and succeed in getting all documents, meaning that we won. 

Therefore, the cosmos has spoken, the outcome of Brexit will be Remain

Then again, if the universe was as aligned around me as I like to think, England would have won every major football tournament since about 1998 based purely on my Fifa endeavours, so I won’t hold my breath. 

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LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon painting to go on public display for first time in 57 years

It will go on display for the first time in 57 years before it goes to auction

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Christie's

LS Lowry’s painting Sunday Afternoon is to go on public display for the first time in 57 years.

The painting, worth more than £4 million will go on display in Christie’s London on March 13th before it goes to auction on March 20th.

Lowry, who was born in Stretford in 1887, painted industrial districts in Greater Manchester and around the North West. He mainly depicted Salford in his works.

Christie’s

Laurence Stephen Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon illustrates a densely populated industrial landscape, which shows what Lowry described as the ‘battle of life’. 

Before his death in 1976 at the age of 88, Lowry produced more than 1,000 artworks.

Auctioneers expect the painting to go for between £4 million and £6 million at the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale on March 20th.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr

The artwork was previously sold at the Christies in 1967 for a ‘record price’ and was obtained from the collection of Keith Showering, who was a former chief executive of Europe’s biggest drinks business Allied Breweries.

Phillip Harley, senior director at Christie’s, said: “Sunday Afternoon by LS Lowry will return to the public eye at Christie’s for the first time since it was last seen here 57 years ago.

“This important painting has remained in the collection of Sir Keith and Lady Showering since 1967, offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a work of this magnitude and scale.

Gerald England / Geograph

“The composition represents the wonder the artist felt as he recorded his many observations of the evolving society around him.

“We are thrilled to bring Sunday Afternoon back to auction in the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale. We look forward to welcoming our clients and visitors alike to view the painting when it goes on free display in London on 13 March.”

LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon will go on public display at the Christie’s London from March 13th to 20th.

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Justin Timberlake announces Manchester show as part of huge world tour

Timberlake will bring his tour to Manchester’s huge new music arena in August 2024

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Co-op Live

Justin Timberlake has announced the much anticipated European and UK leg of his momentous The Forget Tomorrow World Tour – and he’s coming to Manchester.

The ‘Cry Me A River’, ‘SexyBack’ and ‘Rock Your Body’ hitmaker will perform live on stage at the huge brand new indoor music arena Co-op Live this summer.

Timberlake will tour at three UK arenas including Utilita Arena, Birmingham on August 7th, Co-op Live, Manchester on August 8th and The O2, London on August 11th 2024.

Co-op Live

Fans can expect to dance along to their all-time favourite Timberlake hits along with songs from his forthcoming new album Everything I Thought It Was such as ‘Selfish’ and his latest single ‘Drown’ out now. 

His sixth studio album Everything I Thought It Was will be out on March 15th.

Last month, Timberlake dropped his single and music video ‘Selfish’, which garnered over 57 million worldwide streams and over 14 million views on YouTube. 

The former Disney and NSYNC star also made a special musical guest performance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, where he performed his single ‘Selfish’ and ‘Sanctified’, featuring Tobe Nwigwe.

Co-op Live

Throughout his career, Justin Timberlake has sold over 54 million albums and 63 million singles globally, and a further 70 million records as the lead vocalist of NSYNC.

He’s won ten GRAMMY Awards across the pop, dance and R&B genres, including his successful solo albums Man of the Woods, The 20/20 Experience, FutureSex/LoveSounds, and his debut solo album, Justified – as well as his collaborations with Jay-Z.

Co-op Live – Europe’s most sustainable music-first arena – is edging closer to its official opening in April this year, when a diverse range of global superstars will head to Manchester.

Expected to be the busiest UK arena opening season ever, Co-op Live will host 25 shows within its first month of opening. 

Co-op Live

A joint venture between Oak View Group and City Football Group and backed by pop-singer Harry Styles, Co-op Live has been designed to transform the live music experience for both artists and fans and is set to host some of the biggest acts from around the globe.

Co-op Members will be first in-line with exclusive access to presale tickets along with other exclusive benefits. 

Presale tickets to see Justin Timberlake perform at Co-op Live in Manchester this August will be available at 10am on February 28th, 2024. You can get presale tickets by signing up to be a Co-op Member HERE.

General onsale tickets go live at 10am on March 1st.

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Europe’s biggest Irish Festival returns to Manchester with live music and epic parade

Come along for the craic!

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Democracy / Press photo & Engin Akyurt / Pexels

The Manchester Irish Festival celebrating the culture and heritage of the Emerald Isle is set to descend on the city again next month.

Ten days of Irish revelry will take over the city from March 8th-17th, shining a light on its vibrant community and flooding the city with live music and dancing, including the ‘best St Patrick’s Day celebrations outside of Ireland’. 

Manchester’s Irish Festival is Europe’s biggest Irish festival, hosting 200 events across the city including a lively pop-up festival village, a legendary parade with more than 30 colourful and impressive floats featuring dancers and bands, through to a 12-hour St Patrick’s Day party. 

Colin Home / Press photo

With so many activities and events available, here are the top 10 you won’t want to miss: 

  • The Irish Parade

The Irish World Heritage Centre will once again provide the starting point for this year’s Irish Parade, happening on March 10th from 12pm. 

The parade will return to its full glory, with incredible floats featuring hundreds of people showcasing the culture, heritage, sounds and joy of the Manchester Irish community. 

Local organisations and communities will be flying their county flags and Manchester’s vast array of Irish dance teams will dazzle spectators with glittering costumes, as marching bands bring the sounds of the Emerald Isle to the streets of Manchester.

Manchester’s Finest Group

The route will see the parade – sponsored by local Irish construction group Blue Central – travel along Cheetham Hill Road, to the AO Arena, passing Manchester Fort, before turning around, and heading back to the Irish World Heritage Centre – lasting approximately two hours. 

  • Irish Festival Village

All roads lead to the Irish Festival Village – filled with vibrant pop-up venues on St Ann’s Square, all taking place under a huge tent.

Visitors can expect the best of live Irish music, a huge screen showing Ireland’s Six Nations games, Manchester’s creamiest pint of Guinness and mouth watering Irish-themed food. The Irish Festival Village launches on the 8th March and will run right up to St Patrick’s Day, on March 17th.

Marco d’Itri / Flickr
  • Ceili-Cise

This Ceili-Cise dancing class for adults promises a fun and friendly atmosphere for beginners. Based in Levenshulme’s Klondyke, anyone can join this event which will take place from 5:30pm on March 11th. 

  • St Patrick’s Day at O’Sheas

Manchester’s iconic Irish bar is back with a huge day of shenanigans for St Patrick’s Day. Entry during the day is free with their famous Irish Breakfast served from 10am and the very best of live music throughout the day from Lochin, Joe Keegan and Green Hot Clover. 

  • Damien Dempsey

After a triumphant run of sold out Summer dates across Ireland last year, Irish sensation, Damien Dempsey has announced a tour for March 2024 with dates in England and Scotland including performing at the Manchester Club Academy on Saturday, March 9th. 

@osheasirishbar / Instagram
  • John McSherry Trio performance

Hailed as a ‘true master’ of music according to Irish Music Magazine, John McSherry will launch ‘Féile’, the live debut album of the John McSherry Trio. Watch them perform on March 17th, at 8pm at Band on the Wall. 

  • Palace Nightclub Reunion Quiz

This event is a reunion for Palace nightclub in Levenshulme that opened in 1989. The Irish Club hosted some of the biggest names in Irish Entertainment, and this quiz night will be hosted in Hennigan’s Sports Bar – just a stone’s throw away from the original nightclub. This will take place from 7pm on March 12th. 

@osheasirishbar / Instagram
  • Irish National Studies Conference

Attend talks from social historians and more, providing a space to learn and network. Centred at the Irish World Heritage Centre from 9am, this day exploring identity will be accompanied by Irish music from the McGuire family. 

  • Limerick Competition

A limerick competition is a fun event to get the whole family involved in. On March 13th, the Bowling Green, in Chorlton, will be hosting this competition, so brush up on some Edward Lear and give it a go. 

Mikey / Flickr
  •  St Patricks Day at Rustik West Didsbury

Venture outside of the City Centre to West Didsbury and you’ll come across Rusitk, the only place to be around St Patricks Day if you’re on Burton Road. Two weeks of non stop live music, the Cheltenham festival races, mouth-watering food and creamy pints of Guinness. Events happening from March 12th – 17th.

Sláinte!

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