The Festival of Libraries is set to hit Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries in June and the countdown has started!

The festival is set to celebrate the role that the libraries play in wellbeing, culture, creativity and more and includes events at internationally renowned institutions like Central Library, Chetham’s, The Portico Library and John Rylands Research Institute and Library.

The Festival of Libraries is now in its third year.  And this year programme highlights will include library exchanges, dance, theatre, live music, poetry commissions, a writing trail ad family friendly activities, all of which will be free of charge.  The festival is also set to expose myths about libraries.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage is also set to lead a Masterclass, sharing his love of writing, reading and libraries.  As he continues, “My experience of reading and writing began in the village library where I grew up, then in the nearby town library, then in libraries at various places of study and teaching. For many people they are an invaluable aspect of everyday life, giving access not just to books but to services, learning, conversation and creative thinking. I look forward to celebrating libraries as one of the great and necessary institutions as part of Manchester’s very own city-wide Festival of Libraries in the UNESCO City of Literature.”

Other guests will include Jay Blades, Guy Garvey, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Stuart Maconie and Cheddar Gorgeous.

Fun is a big factor for Festival of Libraries and the Look for a Book treasure hunt promises plenty of this. It’s set to mobilise children and families as they follow the clues and join the quest to find one of 500 books hidden in Greater Manchester’s libraries and with the chance for some participants to meet the author.  In 2022 Lenny Henry laid down the Look for a Book challenge and this year’s author will be revealed at the end of April.

The festival will offer lots of thought-provoking events, such as an in conversation event with award-winning playwright and artist Linda Brogan. Linda will be discussing how her pursuit of memories led to the excavation of the Reno Club, renowned in the 1970s for being the best soul and funk club in Manchester and a space for young mixed-race Mancunians who often weren’t welcome elsewhere; an exhibition at The Whitworth; and now a book, 12 Words. Authors Carmen, Tia and Catherine were part of the 2016 Reno excavation that took place 30 years after the club was demolished and have written 12 Words alongside Linda, in the process unlocking truths, secrets and confessions.

When does Festival of Libraries run in Manchester?

Manchester’s Festival of Libraries runs from 7 to 11 June 2023.  The full programme will be announced at the end of April when booking opens.

The Portico Library Manchester – image courtesy Samantha Guess Photography