Thank you for a great International Mother Language Day 2023

5 April 2023 - News
Today we’ve taken down our exhibition in Manchester Central Library celebrating International Mother Language Day. The exhibition has been up for two months, but it really doesn’t feel like more than a couple of weeks since we put it up.

As we’ve packaged up the comic exhibit from Angoulême, safely placed each bed, plate and book from the dollhouse into their box and packed away all our books gifted from fellow cities of literature, we’ve been reflecting on the successes of this year’s celebrations, made especially poignant as the celebrations were just as we announced that UNESCO rated Manchester ‘Excellent’ as a City of Literature and we were in the place we held the IMLD launch for partners and organisations connected to multilingualism.


we had a launch event for Manchester’s International #MotherLanguageDay activity, the room was full of guests from businesses, academia, publishing and many other areas. Councillor Luthfur Rahman started us off with why #MCR cares about IMLD, but why it feels especially important to him. #mcrimld23 #citiesoflit

♬ Vibes – ZHRMusic

For International Mother Language Day this year, we not only had our exhibition, but our partners held more than a week of creative, hands-on activities and events (and there’s still one left on 12th April; Looking for Languages around Manchester Museum). It can be easy for us to forget how big Manchester’s IMLD celebrations have become and we were blown away by the size of audiences and the quality of the events this year (Longsight Library had over 500 people through the door for their IMLD celebrations!). Our partner organisations who created these events are brilliant and deserve all the smiles their activities created.

We had such an array of events available, from live music and singing workshops, readings, mother language poetry performances, film clubs, a comics conference, language engagement within the newly opened Manchester Museum, community language fun days at various local libraries, food sampling, talks and panels, etc. The thing they all had in common was people’s passion for their multilingualism and the connection between language, culture and tradition. There was so much learning and respect throughout and every event we attended catered so well to the audiences in attendance. A lovely touch was Manchester Poetry Library’s Bangla poetry display as a nod to the roots of International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated on 21st February to mark the anniversary of Bangla being recognised as its own official language.


this year’s International #MotherLanguageDay celebrations were definitely active and it was amazing to see so many people getting involved. #MCRIMLD23 #Manchester

♬ original sound – Manchester City of Literature

Around 3,500 people attended IMLD events this year, and with digital views after the live events, over 5000 people took part in Manchester’s IMLD celebrations! All our, and our partners’, online engagement with our members and audiences reached over 1.6million people. It’s been great to see such a large online conversation and it shows the importance of celebrating mother languages and Manchester’s diversity is to illustrate that all cultures are paramount to our city.

This year, IMLD was a great way of connecting with our global network of UNESCO Cities of Literature. Many of them celebrated IMLD with live or digital events in their communities, ranging from single releases, panels, knowledge and language exchanges, etc.


we can finally announce that Words From the Childhood Home, a beautiful #multilingual chain poem created by 9 UNESCO #CitiesofLit for International #motherlanguageday is now on display in Manchester Central Library!!! #mcrimld23

♬ Welcome home Radical Face – 34,817 reasons to smile <3


We wrote a blog to highlight the international nature of the celebrations for this special day, but the biggest highlight of the worldwide connections for us was 9 UNESCO Cities of Literature coming together to create a stunning multilingual chain poem. The cities spanned the breadth of the globe, from Melbourne to Montevideo, and no language repeats. Anjum Malik, one of Manchester’s Multilingual City Poets, started us off with a stanza inspired by ‘Words from the Childhood Home’, this stanza was then sent to a different city where a nominated poet wrote the next stanza before passing it onto the next city and so on. It is a jewel in our celebrations and we’re so proud of how beautiful the poem they created is and its demonstration of the creativity that comes from our connections to other cities through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

We enjoyed 2023’s IMLD celebrations so much and are already thinking about next year. What could you do to join us in celebrating IMLD 2024?

#MCRIMLD23 #MotherLanguageDay