Installation shot of laser art work
Liverpool Biennial. Photo by Joel Chester Fildes

Liverpool Biennial 2016

Polly Checkland Harding, Exhibitions Editor

The UK Biennial of contemporary art returns this year, bringing 44 artists from five continents to the fair city of Liverpool. The ninth edition of the Liverpool Biennial takes place between July and October in venues across the city – in museums and galleries (Liverpool has more than any other city in the UK, save London), but also restaurants, supermarkets, cinemas, outdoor spaces and even functioning Arriva city buses.

Liverpool Biennial’s programme for 2016 is organised as a story that will unfold in several episodes: ‘Ancient Greece’ nods to the city’s architectural past and sees one floor of Tate Liverpool transformed into Ancient Greece, with classical Greek sculptures appearing alongside new commissions by international artists. ‘Chinatown’ reflects on the fact that Liverpool’s Chinatown is the oldest in Europe, whilst looking forward to developer plans for a New Chinatown; this episode will include work by artists exiled in Dubai, sent over in a shipping container.

‘Monuments from the Future’ invites artists to envision the city in twenty, or forty years’ time with a series of public art commissions, whereas ‘Flashback’ looks at moments when the past punctures the present through sculpture and film. The ‘Children’s Episode’ thinks about the city’s future in the shape of new generations; here, artists work with and for children, exploring the space between reality and fiction. Finally, ‘Software’ thinks about programming as a portal to other dimensions and imagined worlds.

The Biennial is accompanied by a diverse line-up of events, including live performances, screenings, tours, talks and workshops across the city. It stretches over to Manchester for the first time, working with the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art – but the heart of the festival will be the stunning Grade II listed Cains Brewery in Liverpool, a building that dates back to 1887 and once brewed over half a million barrels of beer a year. Also showing during the festival are the Liverpool Biennial Associate Artists, John Moores Painting Prize, Bloomberg New Contemporaries and the Biennial Fringe.

Here are our top 5 picks

Things to do right now

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Hubbub: A Musical Adventure
Families 25 October 2016, from £6.50

Hubbub: A Musical Adventure

Upswing : Bedtime Stories
Theatre 25 October 2016–26 October 2016, from £7.00

Upswing: Bedtime Stories

Theatre 5 October 2016–29 October 2016, from £9.50

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Image courtesy of HOME
Theatre 25 October 2016–29 October 2016, from £10.00

946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

Science Showdown
Families 24 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Science Showdown

Manchester Megapixel
Families 24 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Megapixel

Science Showdown
Families 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Science Festival free family events

Royal Society Science Exhibition
Exhibitions 24 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Royal Society Science Exhibition

HAND 01.1_1
Exhibitions 8 September 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

HAND CRAFT at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

The Chronarium.
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

The Chronarium Sleep Lab at Manchester Arndale

Theatre 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, from £2.00

Women in Comedy Festival

Members of Public Service Broadcasting in space
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Science Festival 2016

Image courtesy of Wild Rumpus
Families 22 October 2016–31 October 2016, from £16.00

The Enchantment of Chester Zoo