Home to Anthony Burgess, Lemn Sissay, Carol Ann Duffy, John Cooper Clarke, Elizabeth Gaskell, Jeanette Winterson. Plus Manchester Literature Festival, Carcanet and Comma Press, Chetham’s, Portico, John Rylands, Central Libraries… and more!

Manchester: A UNESCO City of Literature

City of libraries

The libraries of our city are a key part of our cultural heritage, from the John Rylands Library to the North-West film archive to Chetham’s to the Portico to the Ahmed Iqbal Race Relations Resource Centre. We see libraries as the emotional and physical heart of community. This has been shown, as 4.1 million people visited the Central Library in the 3 years since it was renovated.

Manchester was successful in its bid to join UNESCO’s worldwide Creative Cities network as a City of Literature in 2017. Joining 38 other Cities of Literature, a consortium including Manchester City Council, the universities, Manchester Literature Festival plus a range of the city’s writers, publishers and literary organisations has formed to enable this to happen.

Manchester City of Literature is here to celebrate all of the things that make our city such a dynamic, diverse and inspiring place for the written and spoken word. It’s a chance to think big and develop exciting, collaborative literary projects aimed at getting people reading, writing and enjoying literature.

City of poetry

Manchester is a beacon for poetry in the UK, demonstrated all the way up to institutional level. Manchester University (Lemn Sissay) and Salford University (Jackie Kay, the Scottish Makar) have poets as their Chancellors; Manchester Metropolitan University is the home of the UK Poet Laureate 2009-2019 (Carol Ann Duffy).

Manchester is known worldwide as the birthplace of the industrial revolution and has a proud history in science, radical thinking, music, sport and the arts. Its innovations include pioneering free public libraries, the launch of the cooperative movement, the discovery of graphene. A leading cultural centre, it is the third most visited UK city.

Manchester is the fastest growing local authority in the UK, with a population of 540,000. It is a diverse city, with 91 ethnic groups and an estimated 200 languages spoken. Manchester has a young population: almost 25% aged 20-29 in 2015, and 70,000 students study here.

Manchester sits at the heart of the Greater Manchester (GM) city region. GM is home to over 2.7 million people. GM is a pioneer of city regional governance, having secured several significant devolution deals.

City of festivals

From the innovative Manchester Literature Festival to the commissioning Manchester International Festival, and from Wonder Women to Queer Contact, Manchester Histories Festival to Future Everything; Diwali, Dashera, St. Patrick’s Day and Chinese New Year festivities, Manchester is home to all manner of cultural celebrations.

Manchester is an outward-looking city, working with cities worldwide, and is globally connected by Manchester Airport, which serves 26 million passengers yearly to 200 destinations.

Manchester’s radical tradition means that free expression is central to civic identity. Globally famous for understanding and tolerance, it is a City of Peace that became the first ‘nuclear free city’ in 1980. Manchester hosts large Dashehra, St. Patrick’s, and Diwali Mela celebrations; LGBTQ+ Queer Contact and the feminist Wonder Women festivals; and large Chinese New Year festivities.

The city has a thriving cultural sector and continues to invest in its cultural infrastructure. Manchester is home to world-class publishers like Carcanet and Comma Press.

City of drama

The principal theatres in the city (Royal Exchange, HOME, Contact) and smaller theatre companies like the King’s Head or Hope Mill theatre perform and develop new work. Z-Arts is Manchester’s venue for children and families; their mission is to inspire and enable generations of young people to utilise their creativity to maximise their potential.
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