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5 highlights of the IF: MK arts and culture fest

Culture fix alert! Forget the Tate Modern et al - we've got your contemporary arts, music and dance fix right here in Bucks. And the cherry on the cutting edge cake? Most of it is free.

When you think ‘Milton Keynes’, you may not think ‘cutting edge art’, but how wrong you’d be. Quite apart from the city’s contemporary architecture and modern art spaces, this summer it will host a rip-roaring festival of provocative artists, singers and comedians.   

The International Festival: Milton Keynes (if you’re down with the kids that’s IF: Milton Keynes) has been running since 2010. There’s a lot going on around MK over the festival, but we’ve had a good nosey at the line-up and picked our favourites. Here they are…

Gaia credit: Jim Huntsman

Two massive installations come together for the first time ever in the UK to give an astronaut’s view of the earth and the moon. The seven metre-diameter 3D models, Gaia and Museum of the Moon, are being set up in Middleton Hall in centre:mk (10 to 30 July) and in the grounds of the Tree Cathedral (22 to 25 July). Expect the unexpected with the remaining four installations… Pop-up robotic woodpeckers, a moving breathing walk-through sculpture, a sea of silk flags and commemoration of births and deaths as an arrivals board. And given they’re all free, why not give it a go?

Planted Symphony photo by: Becky Morris Knight

Music is a massive part of IF: Milton Keynes and ranges from orchestras and folk duos to emerging talent, but we’re totally intrigued by the ‘interactive outdoor audio trail’. Download the Planted Symphony app, then move along the trail, triggering the songs and stories as you go to accompany works created by disabled and non-disabled artists working together (14-18 July).

Russell Kane

Big names are coming to MK for the Stand Up in The Park night on 23 July with Russell Kane, Rich Hall and Angela Barnes. Kane, of Evil Genius and Boys Don’t Cry podcast fame, and of course countless TV appearances, is the perfect foil to Hall’s audience banter and Barnes’ witty takes on her previous career in health and social care. Tickets: £27.50, age 16 plus, take your own picnic and chair or blanket.

Manny and the Coloured Sky

At Muddy we love a whole lot of local and at IF: Milton Keynes, the emerging lyrical talent is a massive draw. The Stables Sessions on 17 and 18 July have live performances from emerging talent and unsigned artists including Manny and the Coloured Sky, Inlak’esh and Anna Hester. You heard it here first. Tickets are free but you need to book your place.

Cloud gazing photo by: Brendan Buesnel

This weekend’s Family Focus event is a) free and b) caters to all ages, with a load of pop-up performances and drop-in workshops… and did we mention… it’s free? Kids can see outdoor theatre and acrobatics, make a flag and take it home and try cloud gazing (we promise it’s more than just lying on your back), balloon sculptures and a comedy gardening show – yup, we’re as intrigued as you are… All happens at Campbell Park on 17-18 July.

IF: Milton Keynes International Festival is running from 10 – 30 July.

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