Manchester to be transformed into biggest-ever playground for Manchester Day 2024: Let the Games Begin!

  • Thursday 20 June 2024

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Street scene, young woman dressed in pink smiles as she dances with her arms in the air in front of crowds of people

Manchester's favourite day of the year promises to be a real winner this year as the city centre is transformed - for one day only (Saturday 27 July) - into Manchester's biggest ever playground for Manchester Day:Let the Games Begin!

Inspired by an international summer of sport the city's streets and squares will be filled with music, dancing and have-a-go activities designed to bring out the inner athlete in visitors young and old, as well as astounding acrobatics, and pop-up performances in the most unlikely of places.

The city council is working with outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank on a medal-winning programme for the day that promises something for all ages and all sporting abilities - from the fastest kid off the block to the slowest - with events including what is set to be possibly the world's slowest race as a pair of giant snails spend the best part of the day jockeying for first place in a race that definitely won't be over in the blink of an eye.

With a Hip-Hop wrestling ring for breakdancing, wrestling, a spot of opera and a dash of drag, along with a vintage fairground to try the always competitive hook-a-duck challenge or a round of darts, and an actual reality arcade filled with larger-than-life console games to get fully immersed in, there's sure to be something for even the most reluctant of athletes to enjoy.

Prepare to be amazed by award-winning dance company Motionhouse and their hit outdoor show Wild, that will see performers fly through the city on a forest of poles in a daring dance-circus production using careful choreography and acrobatic movement, whilst performers from No Fit State Circus will be defying the laws of gravity as they bend, flex and build a towering series of bamboo structures as part of a mind-blowing performance that relies solely on human strength, trust, and harmony with nature.

And of course, it wouldn't be Manchester Day without the music - be transported to Copacabana beach by the sounds of Jubacana, a youth-led, fusion and dance project that combines percussion, guitars and a whole lotta sequins to create a big sound and an even bigger show.  Enjoy the freshest of beats from DJs across the city, the Bridgewater Hall Choir, or a whistle stop tour around the world with the Global Grooves procession, before a showstopping finale featuring one of the UK's finest live soul bands, the Detroit Soul Collective.

In a Manchester Day special for this year and to mark what is set to be a sizzling summer of international sport, the city has also partnered with some of the UK's leading sports bodies to bring a whole sports-day worth of taster sessions in all kinds of different sports and fitness activities.

Want to impress your mates and break a board with your hands? British Taekwondo will show you how to, with safety and with style. They’ll also teach you the basics of taekwondo, self-defence and give you all the information you need about joining your local club.  Or get your blood pumping at the 60m, pop-up athletic track supplied by GLL who will also be hosting a series of fun challenges for all the family, including a tennis mini rally and a basketball shoot out. 

Like a bit of cricket? Dive into the fast and furious world of The Hundred, a turbo charged version of traditional test cricket. Try batting, bowling and catching in a special area, meet players from Manchester Originals and be in with the chance of winning prizes.

Maybe netball is more your thing? Shoot hoops and score goals with the team from England Netball. Whether you’re a complete beginner, returning to the sport or are a regular player looking to improve your game, they’ll also help you find a local club to suit your level and keep on playing.

Wanna-Be footballers won't want to miss the Manchester United Foundation's Panna Cage in partnership with Manchester FA, where you can take on the target goals challenge, brush up on your technical skills with professional coaches, or even take part in a small-sided game. 

Also on hand, keeping a watchful eye across all the day's proceedings will be a troop of roaming referees who may burst into song (or dish out a red card) at any given moment, ensuring a fun-filled day for all as families are invited to try their hand at all kinds of games and have-a-go sports activities.

And it goes without saying of course that everyone's a winner at Manchester Day 2024, with gold medals being awarded in a special Winners' Enclosure throughout the day and medals up for grabs in all kinds of categories including cheekiest grin and best Dad dancer.

Councillor Pat Karney, Chair of Manchester Day, said: "We know how much Mancunians of all ages love to celebrate the city's special day with us and this year we're really going for gold.  We've got an absolutely fantastic day lined up, stuffed full of free things to see and do for all the family, all with a sporting flavour - so grab your granny and your trainers and come on down and join us!"

This year's Manchester Day: Let the Games Begin! has been created in collaboration with outdoor arts specialists, Walk the Plank. 

Bev Ayre, Senior Producer, Walk the Plank, said: "We’re delighted to be helping produce the Manchester Day programme again this year. We’ve some of the best music, dance, theatre and performance the city has to offer. Where else would you find a wrestling drag queen, a sporting dinosaur and a hip hopping opera singer. So - Let the Games Begin!"

Find out more information and follow the latest Manchester Day 2024 updates here 

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