Manchester International Festival is the world’s first festival of original work and special events – a biennial celebration of performance, art, music, theatre and more, which marries the world’s best-known artists with Manchester’s cultural institutions. Returning 29 June – 16 July 2017, MIF17 is the first festival under Artistic Director John McGrath. So, what’s new? This year’s programme is particularly theatre-heavy, as you might expect from the Founding Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Wales: it includes ‘songs and stories from a forgotten England’ Fatherland, the multi-layered Returning to Reims and interactive performance Party Skills for the End of the World (with accompanying last suppers from celebrated Manchester chef Mary-Ellen McTague). Music is represented both in live gigs (including a strong Pavilion Theatre line-up in collaboration with Sounds From the Other City) and a major exhibition of visual art inspired by Joy Division and New Order at Manchester Art Gallery. Over 30 artists are taking part in the festival, hailing from cities as diverse as Berlin, Cairo, Karachi and New York; the astonishing work that they are bringing to Manchester looks set to make Manchester International Festival 2017 another unparalleled cultural event in the city.