Manchester’s Medieval Festival returns for its second year

A unique family-friendly festival in Manchester’s historic medieval quarter returns for its second year on 23 – 24 September 2023. 

The Manchester Medieval Quarter Festival, organised by University of Manchester and Chetham’s Foundation, was a huge hit with people of all ages when it first launched in 2021 and this year’s event is set to be bigger and better than ever, featuring fascinating history tours, live music, film screenings, workshops, food and drink, and medieval entertainment. 

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Chetham’s School of Music, Chetham’s Library and Manchester Cathedral make the most complete medieval site to survive in the north of England and the Manchester we know and love today grew from this area. These buildings date back to 1421 and Chetham’s was originally used  to accommodate the priests of Manchester’s Collegiate Church. 

The two-day festival celebrates this rich history and the incredible stories from Manchester’s past. There will be guided tours of medieval buildings as well as talks from the country’s leading archaeologists who will explore the local landscape and tell stories of the people and places of Medieval Manchester. Manchester Cathedral will display fascinating items from its archives to illustrate some of the stories.

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Visit the historic courtyard at Chetham’s for dance workshops, craft activities, and entertainment. For music lovers, there will be live period music from Chetham’s School of Music students to set the mood as well as ‘give it a go’ recorder lessons for all ages. An evening in the beautiful Baronial Hall, part of Chetham’s Library, will explore musical cultures in the medieval period and performances will reflect the diversity of music produced in non-western cultures during the time. There’s also an exploration of medieval book-making in the Baronial Hall.

Head to The Stoller Hall for the Manchester-premiere of Yiimimangaliso (The Mysteries), a South African version of the English Medieval Chester Mystery Plays, as well as a talk and Q&A with Director Mark Dornford-May. This multi-lingual production, which is an international touring hit, explores Biblical stories through song, dance, and innovative staging. There’s plenty for littles ones at The Stoller Hall too, including a performance of Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants.

For footie fans, The National Football Museum is holding football-inspired print workshops that all ages can enjoy. The printing press was created during the late medieval period and is an innovation that enabled people to share knowledge more quickly and widely, accelerating human progress.

There is also the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the period in the Cathedral Gardens – Historia Nomanis will transport you back to Medieval England with their unique style of re-enactment. John Rylands Library on Deansgate is in on the action too and will display rare books and manuscripts from across medieval cultures.

The festival is open 10am – 3pm on Saturday 23 September and Sunday 24 September. Find out more about the festival and book tickets to the events.