We are nearing the end of what’s been a very quiet and difficult year for many.
For the longest time in living memory, Manchester’s world-leading music venues and theatres have fallen silent.
The city’s many festivals – whether for food or for dance music – have been on pause, there have been no crowds dancing until dawn, and no glitter-strewn parades.
The year-end doesn’t necessarily spell a return to normality, but with the vaccine roll-out underway, the future looks a lot brighter than it has of late.
With that in mind, we’re turning our attentions to all the big events we’re hoping are able to make their return to Manchester this year.
What are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments below.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea – but with around 75,000 people flocking to Heaton Park each day of the weekend-long festival, Parklife certainly has its fans.
The huge music festival, like many events this year, had to call off its usual party in the park.
But it’s now confirmed a 2021 return, with new dates while they plan for a celebration that’s ‘worth the wait’.
The festival will now take place on September 11 and September 12, with New Order performing on the same site the night before Parklife starts.
Parklife headliners are expected to be announced in the new year, and registration for tickets is open now.
Manchester International Festival
Manchester International Festival – or MIF – only takes place every other year, so was one of the few returning events that didn’t have to pull its plans at the last minute.
The huge arts festival is now getting ready for its 2021 return, where it will fill the city with music, theatre and dance.
MIF 2021’s first event has already been announced – The Walk will see a 3.5m puppet, ‘Little Amal’, walk through the city centre as a representation of displaced refugees.
It’s back between July 1 and July 18, with the full programme to be announced in the spring.
Sounds of the City
Back to take over Castlefield Bowl after cancelling this year’s event, Sounds of the City will once again bring some of the world’s biggest musicians to Manchester.
Between June 30 and July 11, the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Foals, The Streets, and Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott will hit the stage.
The outdoor summer gig series will also welcome Kaiser Chiefs with Razorlight, Crowded House, and DMA’s.
Hacienda Classical will make their annual homecoming show, performing orchestral versions of classic club records.
Tickets are on sale now from Ticketmaster.
Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend
Manchester’s annual LGBTQ+ celebration took its events online this year, with a massive virtual line-up.
It’s hoped it will be able to go full steam ahead in 2021, once again filling the Gay Village with live music and partying.
The August bank holiday weekend usually sees thousands gather for the Pride parade through the city centre, before some of the biggest names in music take to the stage at Depot Mayfield.
In 2019, the festival hosted Ariana Grande’s return to the city – now it’s a wait to see what the charity’s plans are for the next installment.
Bluedot brings together the worlds of science and music at Cheshire’s Jodrell Bank, in a family-friendly fiesta spread over four days.
It’s a highlight of the country’s festival calendar and right on Greater Manchester’s doorstep.
Bluedot pushed its festival back to July 2021 but the lineup is largely unchanged for now – that means headline performances from Bjork, Groove Armada and Metronomy beneath the awesome Lovell telescope.
Tickets are on sale now with Ticketmaster.
Book of Mormon
It’s the first bit of big theatre news we’ve had in a long time, with dozens of touring and local productions cancelled in 2020.
The Book of Mormon is on its way back though, following a sold-out summer run of shows in 2019.
The hit comedy musical is back at the Palace Theatre between December 7 2021 and January 2 2022 (though if last year’s demand is repeated, they’ll add more dates).
Written by South Park creators, the story follows two missionaries sent from their home in Salt Lake City to preach the Mormon religion to a remote Ugandan village.
Tickets are on sale now from ATG Tickets.
Manchester Christmas Markets
As much stick as the Christmas Markets get every year, they attract tens of thousands of visitors to the city, and this year’s festive run-up just hasn’t felt the same without them.
Although the Council managed to pull together a mini ‘Winter Market’ manned by local traders, it’s not quite the same as sipping a mulled wine outside the familiar wooden huts.
Next year, it’s hoped the Christmas Markets will be back in full force, albeit with their main hub moved away from Albert Square while the renovation of the Town Hall continues.
Manchester Food and Drink Festival
It was lined up to be the first major event to go ahead in 2020, and until the week before things were looking hopeful for MFDF’s new Covid-safe format.
But a spike in infections in October forced it to pull the plug and move most of its events to spring.
The annual awards ceremony went ahead in October, albeit virtually, recognising the best in hospitality from across Greater Manchester.
The rest of the event, including the huge festival hub at Cathedral Gardens with its street food and market, is due to return between April 1 and April 11.