Patti Smith and Arlo Parks among artists announced for Manchester International Festival

A new film starring Cillian Murphy, 'All Of This Unreal Time', will be premiered at the event

Patti Smith and Arlo Parks are among the acts set to perform at this year’s Manchester International Festival, which will also screen a new film starring Cillian Murphy.

The event will take place between July 1 and July 18, and will see its participating artists reflect on ideas such as love and human connection in a post-coronavirus world.

As per a press release, MIF 2021 will offer up “a unique snapshot of these unprecedented times” while playing “a key role in the safe reopening of the city’s economy”. Tickets go on general sale from here on May 20.


Patti Smith will perform two nights (July 7/8) as a Manchester Internation Festival exclusive, taking to the stage for her first concerts since the COVID crisis began. Arlo Parks, meanwhile, will be accompanied by a string section for her biggest headline show to date on July 9.

Venues for both performances are yet to be confirmed.

The Cillian Murphy-starring film All Of This Unreal Time – featuring a soundtrack by Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner (The National) and Jon Hopkins – is set to receive its world premiere as an immersive installation between July 2-4.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make this work during turmoil and sadness of 2020,” Murphy said. “It has been a great journey of collaboration working with these uniquely talented artists to bring [writer] Max Porter’s beautiful words to life.”

An official description of the film, directed by Aoife McArdle, reads: “A man – any man, everyman – walks alone through night and the city. From subway to pavement to wide open marshland, he confesses his failings: emotional, physical, political. To whom, and for what? Ashamed and alarmed, he considers both the smallness of human life and the scale of the world, and ultimately our most pressing obligation: to care for those alongside us, and for the earth that sustains us.”


You can find the full programme of events on Manchester Internation Festival’s official website.

The festival’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive, John McGrath, explained: “I am thrilled to be revealing the projects that we will be presenting from 1-18 July this year – a truly international program of work made in the heat of the past year and a vibrant response to our times.Created with safety and wellbeing at the heart of everything, it is flexible to ever-changing circumstances, and boldly explores both real and digital space.

“We hope MIF21 will provide a time and place to reflect on our world now, to celebrate the differing ways we can be together, and to emphasise, despite all that has happened, the importance of our creative connections – locally and globally.”