Manchester Literature Festival 2024

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Max Porter. Photo by Francesca Jones
Max Porter. Photo by Francesca Jones.

Manchester Literature Festival at Contact Theatre, Manchester 4 — 20 October 2024 Tickets from £5.00 — Book now

Manchester Literature Festival runs from 4 to 20 October and presents inspiring live literature and spoken word from international writers and home-grown talent.

Every year, Manchester Literature Festival presents inspiring live literature and spoken word from across the globe and, for the 19th edition, you can be sure that there will be plenty in the programme to pick your way through. From Contact and HOME to Central Library and Manchester Poetry Library, MLF runs in venues around the UNESCO City of Literature, often in partnership with Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester, Creative Manchester and other local agencies. The MLF organisers say: “We believe literature and culture have the power to connect us, entertain us, challenge us and show us new ways of looking at and navigating the world.”

For prose, think the likes of recent guests Zadie Smith, Kate Mosse, Jeanette Winterson and Deborah Levy. For poetry, perhaps Lemn Sissay, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, and pioneering reggae poet, performer and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson. For cultural figures, journalists and people from the political sphere, maybe Jeremy Deller, Thurston Moore and George Monbiot.

Last year’s highlights included a performance by Max Porter (Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, which won several prizes and was adapted for the stage in a critically acclaimed solo performance by Cillian Murphy, and Lanny, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize) of a dramatic abridged reading of his novel Shy alongside a live electronic score by musician Roly Porter. Commissions are always worth getting tickets for. In 2023, Jason Allen-Paisant performed for the first time a trio of new poems commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival and Manchester Art Gallery, and chatted about the fascinating process of making them with the inimitable Malika Booker; Jason’s collection of interlocking poems Self-Portrait As Othello was published by Manchester’s Carcanet Press and picked up a Forward Prize in 2023. Another special event to keep an eye out for is the annual Rylands Poetry Reading, presented every year by Carcanet – in 2023, it marked a special 50th jubilee celebration of PN Review magazine, and featured readings by Anthony Vahni Capildeo, Sasha Dugdale and Will Harris.

Also have those peelers peeled for “fringe” happenings popping up around and about, including the CT Literature Desk’s favourites Peter Barlow’s Cigarette and Poets & Players, this at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Manchester Literature Festival at Contact Theatre, Manchester 4 — 20 October 2024 Tickets from £5.00 Book now

What's on at Contact Theatre

Pillock at Contact
Pillock at Contact

Pillock is an exciting new one-man show exploring neurodiversity, the challenges of gay dating and the vulnerabilities of an actor’s life.

Where to go near Manchester Literature Festival 2024

Music venue
The Deaf Institute

The Deaf Institute is a vibrant gig venue and nightclub for which it is well worth taking a jaunt out of the Northern Quarter.

Catalog Bookshop

Find Peter and his Christiania cargo bike around All Saints Park, a hop, skip and a bunnyhop from Manchester Poetry Library.

Bar or Pub

Sandbar, just off Oxford Road in Manchester, is a well-loved watering hole, with a great selection of ales and some eccentric seating.

Johnny Roadhouse store
Johnny Roadhouse

Buffeted by fried chicken outlets, legendary musical instrument emporium Johnny Roadhouse has been serving the local music community for over 50 years.

Café or Coffee Shop
Eighth Day

Eighth Day is a co-operative shop that sells ethically-sourced food, wine and cosmetics. There’s also café that serves hearty, healthy meals in the basement.

Event venue
The Proud Place

Based in the heart of Manchester on Sidney Street, The Proud Place houses The Proud Trust and serves as a community hub for the wider LGBT+ population across Greater Manchester and beyond.

What's on: Literature

Yellow poster with Weird as Folk written on it
Weird As Folk exhibition at The Portico

The Portico Library’s latest exhibition, Weird As Folk, runs through to November and invites you to explore and reimagine folklore via texts selected from the collection, which includes 100 books of English folklore.

free entry
AJ West
AJ West at Truman Books

Bestselling author AJ West’s latest historical thriller The Betrayal of Thomas True has been described by Stephen Fry as “really very good” and Farsley independent Truman Books is giving you the chance to hear more.

from £8.00

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