28 stunning designs will be displayed throughout the festival, from both professional and amateur designers, as well as community groups and businesses.
The theme for this year is Innovate and Interact, and some of the highlights include a pop-up meadow on wheels from horticultural experts Kew Gardens, a mountain stream by Hulme Community Garden Centre, a garden which erupts from cracks in Manchester’s pavements, and a vertical growing experiment with bug houses and a mud kitchen from Incredible Edible.
Manchester’s most famous street inspires Coronation Street The Tour Garden. Designed by Coronation Street The Tour and Manchester City Council, the garden explores how a famous ginnel behind the Rovers Return can be turned green and beautiful. Following the festival, this garden will be used to create a new green alleyway in the city.
Stimulating the senses from the city streets will be a digital garden from the University of Salford and a performance venue garden from The Bridgewater Hall.
Manchester Jazz Festival will be taking over the New Cathedral Street Bandstand on Sunday 2 August, and there will be three spectacular gardens fresh from RHS Tatton, including a previous Tatton Gold winner, a bee garden and a striking space where visitors can become RHS designers and rearrange the plants to their liking.
Imperial War Museum North will be celebrating their Horrible Histories: Blitzed Brits summer exhibition with a ‘Dig for Victory’ allotment, and hanging baskets will bloom in New Cathedral Street, bringing colour and fragrance at every turn.
Bring a plant to St Ann’s Square on the opening weekend to make a triumphant Manchester People’s Garden. Those who bring a pot will be entered into a fabulous prize draw, and plants will be donated to local community groups as part of Dig the City’s lasting legacy.
The gardens and installations will be judged on Friday 31 July by celebrity gardener and BBC presenter Diarmuid Gavin and Manchester’s National Trust Gardener in Residence, Sean Harkin.
There’ll be an 11am Coffee Morning every day, with talks from Kew Gardens, the National Trust, who’ll give a history lesson on ‘ The Lost Gardens of Manchester’, BBC Radio Manchester gardening expert Shaun Gagie, BBC Two’s Big Allotment Challenge Winner Rob Smith and The Moss Cider Project.
On Tuesday 4 August, Dig’s ‘Community Gardening Day’ will feature talks at 11am, 2pm and 3pm, covering horticultural tips including guerrilla gardening, seed-bomb making and how to get involved in gardening projects in your neighbourhood.
On Friday 31 July, at 12 noon Diarmuid Gavin will also be taking questions at the Bandstand on New Cathedral Street. Whether it’s greenfly blighting your honeysuckle or how to make the most of a “yarden”, Diarmuid is here to help.
There will be live classical and jazz performances at The Bridgewater Hall Bandstand on New Cathedral Street, by students and new young performers from across Manchester, the RNCM and University of Manchester.
In the Dig the City Den in St Ann’s Square, enjoy daily musical entertainment from 12pm, ranging from Ukelele soloists, jazz and folk duos, steel band Pantonic All Stars, the Manchester School of Samba, Dr Butler’s Medicine Hatstand Band and spicy Spanish guitar duo Jalapeno Hombres. Stick around after the coffee morning, come down on your lunch or after work – there’ll always be something lively and different in the den and on the square.
Kicking off the festival weekend there are two evening garden parties from 8pm – 11pm in the den.
On Friday 31 July, it’s Northern Soul Night, hosted by Howling Rhythm and featuring Northern Soul dancers and a full live brass section – The Howling Horns. Party go-ers can join in Northern Soul dance classes and taste whiskies from The Whisky Shop.
On Saturday 1 August channel your inner Gatsby for the 1920’s Speakeasy Party, with vintage jazz collective 52 Skiddoo and Charston dancers to make the party swing. Sample botanical gins cocktails and party like its 1929!
Sunday 2 August welcomes Manchester Jazz Festival to Dig the City, with a selection of the best jazz bands the festival has to offer, all at the Bandstand on New Cathedral Street.
At the King Street Budvar Bar, Dig the City will be on the search for Manchester’s Best Busker. Apply online to get a slot and show us what you can do. Earn the pennies and the glory and attract the attention of thousands of city centre visitors.
For the more Zen amongst us, The Whitworth art gallery will be teaching us all about how art, gardening and meditation can improve wellbeing, by holding free daily Tai Chi sessions. Head to the Dig the City Den in St Ann’s Square at 3pm, and the lessons will be held on one of the Show Gardens.
All week, the beautiful Manchester Cathedral will play host to urban gardening exhibition, Carrot City. Carrot City showcases examples of urban agriculture from around the world including vertical gardening, rooftop gardening, community gardens and allotments. The idea is that we can grow anywhere, even within the most complex of urban environments.
On Wednesday 5 August, 6-7pm in the Dig the City Den, there will be explosive cocktails and a taste of Alice in Wonderland from famed cocktail haven The Alchemist, proving there’s more to cocktails than just botanicals.
Every tiddler’s favourite gardener Mr Bloom from CBeebies visits Dig the City on Sunday 2 August and Monday 3 August. Mr Bloom will be encouraging the kids to get their hands dirty with some great gardening activities. Head to Greengate Square, opposite Manchester Cathedral to join in the fun – don’t forget to dress for the outdoors! Mr Bloom will be appearing at half an hour sessions, from 10am – 3pm. A ticket is required, click here.
The National Trust returns to St Ann’s Square all week, with a shed load of garden memories – your memories. Have you been part of Remembering Our Lost Gardens? If so, you will find your memory inside the shed. There’s still time to tweet your memories to #digthecitymcr. There will also be courses for kids on dry-stone walling, barefoot walking, giant wild art, mud-pie and kite making and giant garden games.
The mystical and mysterious ‘Run Wild, Child’, from the creators of Just So Festival, Wild Rumpus, brings Dig the City to a stunning close on Thursday 6 August. From 10am, families turn detective for the day and have the freedom of the city, discovering clues and meeting curious characters. At 3pm in Greengate Square, immerse yourselves in a fabulous final water fight!
Dig the City runs from Friday 31 July to Thursday 6 August.