International Mother Language Day 2023

Part of our Literature guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Anjum Malik. Photo by Randulph Redlin
Poet Anjum Malik. Photo by Randulph Redlin.

International Mother Language Day at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 21 February–31 March 2023, free entry - Find Out More

Championing language diversity and its connection to cultural and traditional heritage, International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is celebrated around the world annually on 21 February, and, in our very own UNESCO Manchester City of Literature, the main events will be running between 17 February and 2 March.

Whether you speak a particular language fluently, are learning a new language, or just want to find out more about languages in general, this is the perfect opportunity.

Now in their sixth consecutive year in Manchester, the International Mother Language Day celebrations will be bringing together a range of partners, from the Centre for New Writing at University of Manchester to the Manchester Metropolitan campus-based Manchester Poetry Library, and incorporating Manchester City Council and Manchester Literature Festival. Since 2019, over 12,000 people have engaged with IMLD across the city centre and neighbourhoods, with involvement from the likes of bestselling and award-winning poet Lemn Sissay OBE and, this year, a fun day at six of the public libraries across Greater Manchester. Manchester is a city full of languages – we have the densest multilingual population for a city of our size – and around 14 languages will feature in this year’s IMLD celebrations in the city, not including the languages participants will bring themselves.

Within only days of Manchester Museum reopening following a £13 million refurbishment, the pioneering Multilingual Museum will be celebrating the language diversity of the city (21 February, free, no booking required – just drop in between 10am and 4pm). Whether you speak a particular language fluently, are learning a new language, or just want to find out more about languages in general, this is the perfect opportunity to learn about and hear other tongues, chat in your own words about some of the Museum’s objects or try your hand at translating.

The brand-new poem ‘Words From The Childhood Home’ will be available to view from 20 February as part of the free Manchester City of Literature IMLD 2023 exhibition taking place in the Manchester Histories Hub (Lower Ground Floor, Manchester Central Library) from 1 February until 31 March. ‘Words From The Childhood Home’ is a multilingual chain poem created by poets representing the UNESCO Cities of Literature network. The poem was begun by Anjum Malik – a Manchester Multilingual City Poet writing in Urdu and English and a senior lecturer at Man Met’s Manchester Writing School – who contributed the opening four-line stanza on the theme of ‘childhood home’. Each participant was asked to add a stanza in their mother tongue and with a translation into English in response to the words that preceded theirs, culminating in a piece that captures the experience of childhood around the world and reflects on the power of family, native languages and memory.

Most events are free. Venues, dates and times vary - check the Manchester City of Literature website for details.

International Mother Language Day at Manchester Central Library, Manchester

21 February–31 March 2023
Free entry

Places to go / stay / shop / eat / drink

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vegan super club
Activity Until 17 February 2023, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Exhibitions Until 18 February 2023, FREE

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Comedy Until 18 February 2023,

Queer Contact Festival 2023

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME
Festivals Until 18 February 2023,

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME

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Families Until 19 February 2023, from £14.00

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside CANCELLED

Activity Until 25 February 2023, from £13

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Tour

Fairy Tales at Z-Arts
Families Until 26 February 2023, from £3.00

Fairy Tales at Z-arts

Activity Until 6 March 2023, from £6.00

Shake it off: Music Video Dance Class with Girl Gang

Exhibitions Until 6 March 2023, FREE

Screen Time at KERB

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre
Families Until 11 March 2023, from £20.00

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre

OUTDOOR ART CLUB AT THE WHITWORTH
Childrens Until 18 March 2023, FREE

Outdoor Art Club at The Whitworth