Lemn Sissay

Manchester’s Festival of Libraries returns

  • Festiva starts today 
  • Celebrates just how essential libraries are to the city of Manchester
  • Lemn Sissay OBE will lead talk on the importance of libraries
  • More than 130 libraries are taking part


The Festival of Libraries returns to Greater Manchester to celebrate all 133 of the public libraries in the region.

Since the pandemic the importance of libraries and literature in general have been highlighted as people turn to books for comfort.

The festival of libraries showcases digital art commissions, exhibitions, dance, performance, panel talks and walking tours.

The Festival of Libraries made a successful debut last year and this year there will be a full live programme of events supported by Arts Council England. 

The vibrant programme strives to match the multicultural nature of the city, as well as highlighting creativity, reading and well-being.

This year an Inspired by Libraries section will feature talks by well-known literature-lovers and creatives such as Lemn Sissay, OBE.

People will also get the chance to print their own poster of Sissay’s poem at Chetham’s Library, thanks to the Print Me a Poem event.

Others involved in the festival include actor and activist Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street, Dr Who), modern furniture restorer, eco-designer and TV presenter, Jay Blades (The Repair Shop, Money for Nothing), broadcaster Mike Sweeney (BBC Radio Manchester), public historian, broadcaster, and author Greg Jenner (Horrible Histories, You’re Dead to Me), plus poet Jackie Kay and artist Abigail Reynolds.

Events such as storytime in mother languages and a hawk dance will provide fun for all the family, while Bolton NHS Libraries allows visitors to take a look around libraries not normally open to the public.

Festival highlights also include happy, safe and free, an art trail in the wake of Refugee Week 2022 that recognises the hardships refugees endure, and shared reading group will highlight the positive impact of shared reading on mental health and wellbeing. 

Guests are also invited to immerse themselves in the stories and work of celebrated musicians from local communities at The Migrant Voices Takeover, while Little Libraries with Malandra Jacks or explore the remarkable lives of pioneering women in Manchester’s history at the mini-festival, Trailblazer! Women of Manchester and North West.