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The vocalist of Stone Roses, Ian Brown, once said that "Manchester has everything except a beach". You have an opportunity to find out how true that is with daily flights from Belfast City Airport by checking out Manchester’s own ambitious biannual International Festival that keeps the city ‘the beating cultural heart of Britain.’ Although still in its early years, it is already popular and has inspired another, fringe-type festival, the Not Part Of The Festival. Considered by some to be the first of its kind in the world, it showcases famous stars and works to promote budding musicians.
Described by its director as an opportunity for major artists to realize their ambitious projects, Manchester International Festival focuses on original and imaginative new work, premieres and commissions from musicians all around the world.
Manchester’s metropolitan, grittily urban chic provides a great backdrop for this fresh summer festival (usually set during June and July and lasting two and a half weeks), featuring a wide range of music performances and projects from a wide range of genres. The artists involved with it include such international stars as Gorillaz, Björk, Snoop Dog, Kanye West, Rickie Lee Jones, Sinead O’Connor and Kraftwerk. However, it also hosted some slightly ‘heavier’ music, like the former Blur frontman Damon Albarn's Chinese opera, violin recitals, brass and steel bands and orchestral concerts.
It’s not all music, either; the audience can feast their eyes upon visual arts as well, a lot of it set in Manchester’s iconic Royal Exchange Theatre.