REFRACT Festival 2022 at Waterside

Kristy Stott, Theatre Editor
Refract Festival 2022 at Waterside
Image courtesy of Graeme Braidwood Photography.

Refract Festival 2022 at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 21–30 July 2022 - Book now

With the arrival of the summer festival season, Waterside Arts bring us the fifth edition of Refract Festival. Taking place over ten days this July, Refract is a unique and eclectic arts festival packed with a handpicked programme of experiential theatre, comedy, dance, live music and family activities.

The festival is based in Sale with all of the events taking place inside and outside of Trafford’s canalside creative hub, Waterside. Bringing together audiences of all ages, Refract Festival 2022 has been carefully curated by Waterside and Creative Industries Trafford and aims to offer audiences innovative new ways to experience arts, music and performance.

Festival-goers will be able to enjoy free ‘al fresco’ entertainment.

Festival-goers will be able to enjoy free ‘al fresco’ entertainment on the Waterside Plaza. Refract 2022 launches with an outdoor performance by the About Time Dance Company – Quite Unfit for Females explores the remarkable true story of a Preston-based Dick Kerr ladies’ football team who raised money for soldiers and local hospitals during World War One. The Plaza also forms the backdrop for all manner of dance circus throughout the festival. Don’t miss all-female acrobatic troupe, Mimbre when they perform Lifted, a captivating show celebrating the power of female solidarity; additionally, Street Cat Strut is a fun, short family show blending circus, Kung-fu and felines. Meanwhile, dance circus meets cabaret in Glam, a colourful, interactive and humorous performance inspired by club culture and the journey of the LGBTQ+ community. Free, top-notch entertainment for everybody.

Dance-circus performance Lifted. Image courtesy of Mimbre.

Inside the building, the festival continues with a superb line-up of comedy, music and theatre events. Theatrical delights include Edinburgh Fringe hit Like Animals by the acclaimed theatre company Superfan and The Formidable Lizzie Boone, previously showcased at Greater Manchester Fringe, written and performed by the multi-award-winning Selina Helliwell.

Further highlights include a superb programme of live music. Riot Jazz take to the stage with their heady and unique fusion of jazz, hip-hop, drum & bass, grime, dubstep, Latin and classical. Expect a genre-bending night of exhilarating tunes, and everything from Britney Spears to Todd Terje. Audiences can also experience the eclectic sound of global music collective Kabantu, and join Bolton-born singer-songwriter Harriet Dagnall and four-piece indie-alternative band Foxglove for a vibrant double bill. Lovers of musical theatre should check out Julie Madly Deeply – featuring songs from the musicals, this lively cabaret performance takes a look at fame and fandom while paying tribute to showbiz icon Dame Julie Andrews.

Comedy fans are in for a treat with Laugh Riot, a cracking bill of stand-up comedy. With Jonathan Mayor as MC, the night will feature the supremely talented Luisa Omielan, London-based actor-comedian David Mills and TV warm-up man and all-round entertainer Lee Peart. Additionally, fans of Father Ted should join renowned stand-up Joe Rooney ( who played Father Damo in the classic episode Old Grey Whistle Theft) for a humorous and celebratory evening of the sitcom. Expect plenty of laughs as you’re taken behind the scenes and set a Craggy Island quiz. Ah, go on.

Stand-up comedian Luisa Omielan.

Don’t miss VR dance sensation Facades as they walk the line between reality and illusion. Inspired by iconic moments from film, this is a virtual reality dance experience that invites the audience to step into the frame. Intriguing.

With events for all ages at Refract 2022, little ones and their grown-ups can enjoy a selection of engaging and lively theatre shows. Featuring much chaos and joy, Splat is a fully inclusive physical comedy show, while Groove Baby make a welcome return to the festival with Groove Sensations ( for the under 3s) and the jazz-fuelled family adventure, Groove into the Woods ( for the under 7s). Mini fashionistas and super sleuths should check out the participatory show Fashion Spies, a choose-your-own-adventure comedy.

Groove Baby. Image courtesy of Sophia Spring.

A unique and eclectic arts festival packed with a handpicked programme.

From award-winning comedy to top-notch cabaret; genre-smashing music and brand-new writing; striking outdoor dance-circus displays to interactive family entertainment. Packing in ten days of cultural delight, Refract Festival 2022 has got everything covered.

Check out the full festival listings and do remember to book early.

Refract Festival 2022 at Waterside Arts, Manchester

21–30 July 2022

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