For many reasons, heading into 2019 feels like wandering into the realm of the unknown. Politically, things haven’t been more uncertain for quite some time. Culturally, Liverpool has drawn a line under the decade of culture since its crowning glory in 2008. However, there are promising signs. As always the makers and doers of the region have been hatching plans to ensure we are treated to some great art next year. From our neighbours down the M62 announcing an incredible line-up to Wirral working hard to deliver on their year in the spotlight. We’ve compiled a list of reasons to be cheerful as we head into 2019’s abyss.

Manchester International Festival

4th-21st July 2019

Manchester’s biennial extravaganza of cutting edge culture returns in 2019 and the line-up so far will leave very few disappointed. MIF has never lacked in ambition and the festival knack of capturing the zeitgeist proves the team behind the festival have little trouble finding the pulse of international culture.
In the last fortnight, MIF added a cherry to a very delicious looking cake indeed when they announced JANELLE MONÁE would be joining the already stellar list of performers for the two-week festival. Monáe, responsible for one of the albums of the year and her career-best in Dirty Computer will be appearing at Castlefield Bowl on 4th July to open proceedings with a bang.
Elsewhere on the bill, Mercury Prize winning SKEPTA presents his journey into the netherworld with DYSTOPIA987. A mix of DJs, hand picked performers, a live set from the man himself and a wealth of new technology makes for a very intriguing prospect indeed.
If for some reason, this doesn’t pique your interest, the inimitable YOKO ONO brings her Bells For Peace production to Cathedral Gardens, everyone’s favourite brooding should-be Bond, EDRIS ELBA teams up with Young Vic Artistic Director KWAME KWEI-ARMAH for Tree, an exploration of contemporary South Africa.

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Sound City

3rd-5th May 2019

Closer to home, Sound City host their second festival since returning to the city’s creative heartlands. Taking over the Baltic Triangle for three days, Sound Citizens will be treating to the next generation of the best music currently doing the rounds. Rediscovering its knack of introducing punters to their new favourite artists Sound City have drafted in a raft of exciting acts to grace the venues of the former industrial enclave. Topping the bill in 2019 will be RnB big hitter MABEL. She’ll be joined by British hip hop saviour LOYLE CARNER as well as local lad-made-good LOUIS BERRY.

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Wirral Borough Of Culture

Taking the baton from St Helens, who enjoyed a jam-packed year of innovative cultural capers, Wirral have been chosen to carry the Liverpool City Region’s 2019 Borough Of Culture title. This means the area will received £300,000 to invest in cultural activity for the year. Building on a great year this year with Wirral New Music Collective putting on a series of innovative gigs over the summer, the Giant Spectacular stomping its way through New Brighton and the excellent New Brighton Revisited photography exhibition garnering world wide acclaim, 2019 has much more in store.
The year begins with a light show spectacular in Hamilton Square with the historic building facades being illuminated with breath-taking projections courtesy of the award-winning ILLUMINOS. In May, an outdoor spectacle from the creative minds at Hull’s Absolutely Cultured and Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture will present a spell-binding production in Birkenhead Park. As well as this, Rembrandt’s prints will be on display at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight and a brand new photography exhibition will open a Williamson Art Gallery as part of LOOK 19 festival.

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20th-21st July 2019

Those not wishing to miss out on Liverpool International Music Festival’s steady evolution can buy early bird tickets now with the dates for the 2019 festival announced just last week. Once again taking place in Sefton Park and no doubt buoyed by an incredible line-up for this years festival which featured the likes of YOUNG FATHERS, WILEY and DJ JAZZY JEFF, LIMF are set to announce the new line-up in January. Expect more big names alongside the best local talent.

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22nd – 25th August

Quick out of the traps, Creamfields have already announced two of their headliners for the 2019 edition of the festival and it signals their intentions. It’s going to be a big one. Canadian electro pioneer DEADMAUS5 will be treating the Daresbury gathering to his incredible live show complete with innovative visuals and his game-changing live production. Along with Deadmaus 5, SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA will no doubt prove a popular choice amongst the Creamfields faithful for the Sunday night slot.

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Keith Haring

14 June – 10 November

An exhibition celebrating the work of 1980s icon KEITH HARING showing at Tate Liverpool in June 2019 will be the first major show of the artist’s work in the UK. Haring’s bold, vibrant paintings engaged with vital political issues such as racism, homophobia, AIDS awareness, capitalism and the environment, and the artist’s style became synonymous with New York’s hip hop scene of the era. Haring, who publicly came out when homosexuality was still taboo, became one of the century’s most prolific artists and worked with the likes of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. More than 85 works of Haring’s will be on display for the eponymous exhibition.

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29-30 March

With Arts Council funding in the bag, Threshold Festival were enabled to do what they do best and look to provide a platform for the region’s best up and coming talent for their 2019 festival. Quick to follow the good news, Threshold announced the first 12 artists to be confirmed on their line-up. Returning to various venues across the Baltic Triangle the likes of Americana yarn-spinner SEAFOAM GREEN, comedian troupe JOLLYBOAT and Norwegian electro out SKAAR.

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And a bunch of boss February gigs to get you in the swing…

Syrian vocalist OMAR SOULEYMAN numbers around 500 studio and live albums to his name, having begun his career in 1994. Around 80 per cent of those releases are recordings made at weddings and presented to the married couple, which were later copied and sold on, helping him to gain a cult-like status. His beat-heavy, electronic style has made his music a club favourite, which makes his appearance at 24 Kitchen Street on 2nd February all the more intriguing. Also dropping by Kitchen Street is British producer and beatmaker extraordinaire Felix Clary Weatherall, aka ROSS FROM FRIENDS (1st February).
JAH WOBBLE’S INVADERS OF THE HEART are also in town on 1st February, ready to light up the Philharmonic Music Room. Over the past three decades, Jah Wobble has ploughed his own furrow as a prolific solo artist, with a passion for Eastern and global music. If you only know him for his distinctive low-end bass warbles in Public Image Ltd, you’re in for a pleasant surprise here.
Primavera regulars HOLY BOUNCER have been described as “a blur of high-kicking bongo bashing and muscly riffs” – but don’t let that put you off. The psych groovesters are one of Barcelona’s most talked about bands, and they bring their mesmeric atmosphere to 81 Renshaw on 2nd February. THEE LUCIFER SAMS, STRANGE COLLECTIVE and a secret act yet to be announced are also in attendance – don’t say we didn’t give you enough warning.

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