From Janelle Monae to David Lynch and back again via dance pieces inspired by Elvis impersonators...Manchester International Festival is here, the sun's out and the city is alive with art and film!

But what, if anything, is queer, what's free and what's inspiring in this it's first week?

Head to Festival Square on the first night for a QPOC takeover by vogue house The House of Ghetto! A new exhibition of David Lynch's artwork and a season of his films plus special events begins at HOME from Saturday.

Invisible Cities is supposed to be the big must see of the festival though I have no idea what it is and Atmospheric Memory is a cheaper punt on the mysterious (at £8 a ticket) and creates  "a breathtaking interactive art environment where you can see, hear and even touch the sounds that travel through the atmosphere" at The Museum of Science and Industry from Saturday 6th - Sunday 21st July


Running throughout the festival we're excited for The School of Integration at Manchester Art Gallery.  The school will offer over 80 classes on a wide-ranging curriculum that includes food, customs, ethics, politics, Japanese Ikebana flower arranging and many other forms of knowledge – classes given by local people originally from countries around the world, from Zimbabwe to Tibet. Each teacher passes on their own experiences, sharing skills, knowledge and culture in a different kind of communal learning experience in the heart of Manchester. Sounds fab!

We're going to keep you updated each of the three weeks of the festival with our top picks.

Manchester International Festival runs 4th - 21st July


Gary Williams