The festival has announced Yoko Ono, Idris Elba and Skepta among the first artists to feature in the 2019 programme.

 Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah

The festival, which will run from 3rd-21st July, has announced Yoko Ono, Idris Elba and Skepta among the first artists to feature as part of the 2019 programme.

As part of the festival, new works from a range of artists will be featured in spaces throughout the city.

John McGrath, Manchester International artistic director and CEO said: “I’m thrilled to be announcing the involvement of such extraordinary artists in Manchester International Festival 2019.”

In the past the festival has produced and presented world premieres by artists including Björk, The xx, Marina Abramovi?, Damon Albarn and Elbow.


Multimedia artist, Yoko Ono’s event BELLS FOR PEACE will act as the opening event for Manchester International Festival 2019 (MIF19) on the 4th July. Visitors will be invited to gather in Cathedral Gardens as thousands of diverse voices and a people’s orchestra of bells welcome the world to Manchester.

Yoko Ono said: “The beauty of this piece will break the sky and more. One of the reasons this is very different is the fact that all of us will be making the sound together.”

Idris Elba & Kwame Kwei-Armah – Tree

Running from 4th-10th July and created by actors Idris Elba and Kwame Kewi-Armah, Tree will take audiences on a journey in search of the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa.

Taking place within Upper Campfield Market Hall, the new work will feature music, dance and film, combined with a dynamic cast. The piece will explore the past, present and future of South Africa, through the eyes of one young man on a journey of healing.

Skepta – DYSTOPIA987

Held in a secret location in Manchester from 17th-19th July, Dystopia987 will feature a live set from grime artist Skepta, with guest appearances from performers and DJs, new technology and a cast.

The piece will see the producer and MC take visitors on a journey into eternity as part of the project that he himself has described as “real life magic.” 

About Manchester International Festival

The festival is staged every two years in the city of Manchester and features original and new work, alongside special events.

The artist-led festival brings together world-renowned artists from different art forms and backgrounds, whilst promoting new work performing arts, visual arts and popular culture.

For more information, visit

Image: Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah (Photo Credit: David Sandison)