Category Archives: events/ festivals

Shopping-tastic at Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

As I mentioned, October is always festival month in Manchester, with loads of different events going on. My favourite is Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair because it’s full of beautifully-stunning handcrafted work for you to buy.

I think it’s because I would love to be creative and crafty, but I just don’t have the skills or the patience. So I really appreciate the craftsmanship and handwork when someone else IS crafty and arty. And I get to buy pretty things, which I also love. Jewellery, ceramics, glass, textiles and homeware from designer-makers across the UK are all piled into one venue from October 20-23.

GNNCF has just won the Best Small Event at the Manchester Tourism Awards, which is very well deserved seeing as the whole event is put on by the just organisers, Ann-Marie Franey and Angela Mann, with a team of volunteers.

Now in its fourth year,  this event is taking place at Quay House at Spinningfields, instead of the marquee of the last two years.

Some of you know that I did the PR for this event for the first three years, but had to step down this year as I had my little boy in March. So this year, I’m attending purely as a fan and seeing as it’s right near my birthday I’m looking forward to spending some birthday pennies.

One of the hardest things to get across the the press and consumers is that craft doesn’t necessarily mean knitted tea cosies made by someone in their spare time (although there’s nothing wrong with making tea cosies in your spare time!). This contemporary craft is the work of professional artists and designer-makers, who dedicate their lives to perfecting their craft.

This event is perfectly placed for Christmas, and it’s lovely to buy people individual gifts made by craftspeople from all over the UK, instead of some tat from Primark.

Many of the makers return year after year as Manchester is such as good market, and there’s a lovely atmosphere. Last year the organisers also added a Graduates section to showcase the best work from all the degree shows. This is a great way of supporting new makers and is returning this year.

There’s a massive variety of work on show at this event, but I’ve just pulled out some of my favourites:

Hannah Nunn

Hannah Nunn
Hannah run Radiance Lighting in Hebden Bridge and also creates these stunning papercut lights with botanical designs. She also does gorgeous fairy lights and children’s lamps with names on them, which I have my eye on!

Lucy Elsie Harvey

Lucy Elsie Harvey

Lucy Elsie Harvey is another regular at GNCCF and her unusual and striking jewellery and pieces always make an impression on me.

Jane Dzisiewski

Jane Dsisiewski

Janes creates these beautiful resin bangles and stones for necklace pendants, with intricate and subtle designs. All of these are the result of lots of labour with the sanding machine!

Jane Blease

Jane Blease
Another lighting maker here. Jane is based in Manchester Craft and Design Centre and makes these impressive wooden lights, with cut-outs and embroidery.

Sarah Thirlwell

Sarah Thirwell

Last year, one of my favourite purchases was one of these small wooden vessels by established maker Sarah Thirwell. All of her work has a beautiful simplicity, and much of it is made using recycled materials.

Check for all the details. See you there.
Directions to Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.


Festival season: Manchester Food and Drink Festival

copyright Edge Street Events

Yes, festival season is upon us. Autumn in Manchester sees Manchester Food and Drink Festival, Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Buy Art Fair, Manchester Literature Festival and Manchester Science Festival. I think that’s it. Did I miss any off?

The Food and Drink Festival is looking mighty fine so far this year, so here’s my highlights.

Mr Manchester Is Ace always goes to the whisky festival with his friends, and I usually leave the area until he’s been decontaminated. The Lowry Hotel is hosting for the first time this year – they won’t know what’s hit it.

This year I’m going to the Third Big Indie Wine Festival at the People’s History Museum for a sensible evening discussing the merits of old world vs new world, and assessing the acidity, aroma and structure of some fine vinos. OR I’m going to go and swig as much wine as I can with my mates and get dizzy.

Some of the independent wine stores involving in showcasing their grapes are: Reserve Wines, Harvey Nichols, Hanging Ditch, The Vineyard and Origin Wine.

Other attention grabbers from the 2011 line-up involves the man himself, Mr Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who will be giving a talk and cookery demonstration on Friday, October 14 at 1pm.

Hugh Fearnley WhittingstallI love his whimsical olde English programmes where he jauntily whips up a feast for some village folk using berries he’s plucked from the hedgerows, a hand-reared salmon and some home-churned butter. I wonder what he’ll make of Manchester?

MFDF is also having a Best of British street food at the festival hub, which reflects the latest trend in gastronomy. Although I think perhaps that street food is at its best in parts of Asia, when you fear for your health (or guts) while simultaneously wondering what the hell you’re eating. Although you can, if you want, replicate that fear by purchasing a hot dog a 3am from a stall in the city centre.

I also love the idea of the Nominee Trail, which will be taking a group of food-lovers round a selection of the award nominees for best bar, best restaurant and best newcomer to decide for yourself who is the fairest of them all. Except will you remember them all when you’ve had a drink at each?

Other festival highlights include band Elbow’s new bitter, in partnership with Robinsons, to celebrate the launch of their new album, Manchester Chocolate Festival on October 8 and the tempting sounding Spirit and Cocktail Trail.

Manchester Food and Drink Festival takes place from October 7-17, with the main festival hub being at Albert Square again.


Not Part Of New Year’s Eve

not part of festival new year's eve
Not Part Of is having an alternative New Year’s Eve – on January 16! With 25 acts over seven hours, this is a a great way to liven up a dark and miserable month.

The fringe festival to Manchester’s International Festival is putting on a one day festival at the Dancehouse Theatre with comics, hip hops acts, a choir, poets dance and theatre.

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Get wordy with Manchester Literature Festival

Manchester Literature Festival has some really great events this year, and I’m gutted that I’ve been too busy to get to any of them yet. The city has an incredibly rich history of writing and literature, including A Clockwork Orange writer Anthony Burgess, Elizabeth Gaskell, Janette Winterson and one of my favourites, Withington-based writer Melvin Burgess.

We’re smack-bang right in the middle of this year’s event, which runs from Thursday, October 15 to Sunday, October 25. The MLF team have done good this year, with an impressive line-up of celebrated authors and writers including Martin Amis, Simon Armitage, Kate Atkinson, Joan Bakewell, Eoin Colfer, Marilyn Hacker, Val McDermid, Jimmy McGovern and Fay Weldon.

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Festival Finale Weekend at Albert Square

Paul heathcote MFDF
Paul Heathcote, who was giving a chef demo at St Ann’s Square.

We’re now in the middle of Manchester Food and Drink Festival ,
after it launched last week with a glitzy bash at Manchester Art Gallery.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m doing some freelance PR work for the
festival so I’ve been watching all the behind the scenes action and can really
appreciate how much work goes into putting an event like this on.

And I’m starting to realise the occupational hazard of
working with (and consuming lots of) food and drink is a strong possibility of gout.
But, hey, I’m not complaining!

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Buy Art Fair back in Manchester


Buy art! Yes, that’s a command as well as an event. The Buy Art Fair premiered last year in the uber-cool surroundings of Urbis, memorably with my favourite tipple, Tuaca, providing welcome cocktails.

And now it’s back for a second year and I’ve just signed up and registered. The three day event runs from Thursday, September 24 (preview evening) to Sunday, September 27 and showcases the work of more than 300 artists, presented by 75 selected galleries.

Partners this year include the Castelfield Gallery, the Northern Quarter’s amazing Craft and Design Centre and the Chinese Arts Centre and Cornerhouse, among others.

In addition to this year’s event is the first presentation of The Manchester Contemporary, a new platform within the fair, featuring 15 leading cutting edge galleries from across the UK.

And even better, if you register now online you will get free tickets, which otherwise would be £5 on the door. Get in there quick – it’s good.

Cutting Room activities launched

Cutting Room art low res
The next phase of the innovative event Cutting Room Experiment has now been announced, with the winning ideas and schedule going up on the website last week. I was really excited to find out which activities were going to go ahead, and in the end there were 103 ideas generated and 1,166 people counted in for activities.

This is such a unique concept, and it’s been fantastic to see the message being passed around the web on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. I’ve been tweeting about this event under @cuttingroomexp and it’s really cool to see people talking about an event you’re involved in.

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Be counted in for the Cutting Room Experiment

Cutting room experiment

Have you ever wanted to see 200 people all singing along to Manfred
Mann or watch a massive Space Hopper race on the same day as a group of
people all dress up as characters from the postmodern novel
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Well this could be your chance.

The Cutting Room Experiment is an attempt
to create the world’s biggest user-generated event in the world, right
here in Manchester. The website is a hive of activity with people coming up with all kinds of weird and wonderful ideas and voting for their favourites to make them actually happen on Saturday, June 20.

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