MACFEST – Muslim Arts & Culture Festival

Carmel Smickersgill, Tours & Activities Editor
Turkish dancers performing at MACFEST 2024
Image courtesy of MACFEST/ Qaisa Shahraz

MACFEST - Muslim Arts & Culture Festival at The Whitworth, Manchester Until 15 July 2024 Entrance is free — Visit now

A celebration of the diversity, beauty and communities involved in Muslim culture, MACFEST is a wide-reaching arts festival that takes place across multiple months, cities, venues and art forms.  For 2024, the festival spans five months, with cultural institutions like the Whitworth and the University of Salford hosting events and launching arts-awards partnerships. Schools and libraries will also team up with artists and communities to share heritage, knowledge and celebrate.

MACFEST is led by the prize-winning author and peace activist Qaisra Shahraz MBE. The festival first launched in 2018 with the aim to unite communities, and fight back against racism and Islamophobia. Art, food, live music and performance are such fertile ground for cultural understanding and breaking down misconceptions, and it’s incredible to see how the festival has grown into an international collection of over 70 events.

MACFEST at the Whitworth (2023). Image courtesy of Karen Hewitt/ MACFEST

For 2024, MACFEST is set to have its biggest year yet by teaming up with several other festivals across the North of England – Muslim Women’s Arts Foundation, Manchester Histories Festival and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival have all joined forces. Almost all of MACFEST’s events are entirely free to attend and take place across the North of England. However, MACFEST also connects viewers and participants from as far away as Afghanistan, Dubai, Hawaii, Canada, Pakistan, Morocco and the USA.

With a super varied and vibrant programme of events, the overarching festival houses nine themed mini-festivals, these are: Youth, Women’s, Ramadan and Eid, International, Museums and Libraries, Words and Books, Environment, Calligraphy and Arts, and North West. You’ll find literature, visual art, music, dance, comedy, debate and heritage events taking place alongside family-friendly fun – so there really is something for everyone.

Perhaps, what makes MACFEST so successful is its focus on culture and people. By setting religion and politics aside, the festival opens up a conversation – an exchange of understanding – that allows people to connect on a human level through art.

Hit the ‘Visit now’ button below to explore the Manchester programme.

MACFEST - Muslim Arts & Culture Festival at The Whitworth, Manchester Until 15 July 2024 Entrance is free Visit now

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Where to go near MACFEST – Muslim Arts & Culture Festival

Bar or Pub
Big Hands

Big Hands is the one-time haunt of legendary Manchester band Elbow; it’s shabby, loud and dark, with a jukebox and excellent roof terrace.

The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree is a cafe and community hub based in Rusholme, a short walk from the city centre.

Pankhurst Centre
The Pankhurst Centre

The Pankhurst Centre houses a small museum and heritage centre that remains as a legacy to the Pankhurst family and the Suffragette movement born in this city.

Music venue
Manchester Academy 3

Brilliant venue for catching a touring band on the rise. The boringly titled Academy 3 or more interesting Hop and Grape, as it was once known, is a self contained…

Manchester Academy music venue on Oxford Road Manchester.
Music venue
Manchester Academy

The Manchester Academy is a mid size, modern warehouse venue adjacent to the University of Manchester Students’ Union. It lacks any architectural merit and has always been a difficult place…

Cafe at the Museum
Café or Coffee Shop
The Cafe
at the Museum

Manchester Museum’s cafe is run by the people behind award-winning cafe Teacup Kitchen. The menu features home-baked cakes, the finest loose leaf teas and breakfast, as well as a wide selection of mains and meals for kids.

Whitworth Park, Manchester
Whitworth Park

This 18-acre park opposite the Manchester Royal Infirmary provides a welcome patch of green in an otherwise densely populated and heavily used part of the city.

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