Queer Contact: major LGBTQ+ arts festival back in Manchester for 2023 - what’s on and ticket info

Vogue houses, stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and actors will be among the names making their way to Manchester for two weeks of events celebrating LGBTQ+ culture and communities.

A major celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and people hosted by a Manchester arts hub is returning in 2023 with another packed programme of events.

Queer Contact, which takes place at the Oxford Road venue known as the ‘castle of curiosity’, is back in February for two weeks of LGBTQ+ talent spanning stand-up comedy, cabaret, vogue balls and more. A host of well-known names, including stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and actors, will be coming to Manchester for the festival, which takes place as Contact is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Here’s what’s on the line-up for Queer Contact in 2023 and how you can book tickets.

What’s on the programme for Queer Contact in 2023?

Queer Contact will take place between 4 February and 18 February next year and Contact has unveiled a full line-up celebrating queer artists and LGBTQ+ talent.

The programme kicks off on Saturday 4 February with the House of Suarez Vogue Ball returning to the city. Taking place at Manchester Academy, this year’s ball travels back to the glorious decade of disco for a night of glitter and glam MCed by Rikki Beadle-Blair. Vogue houses from all across the UK compete for the much-coveted titles including best choreography and best design – awarded by an esteemed panel of judges – as they pose and perform in an unapologetic celebration of inclusivity, queerness and diversity.

The breakout stars of season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister, will also be appearing at Queer Contact with their attempts to bring the most disappointing drag show you’ve ever scene to Manchester as part of their You Keep Me Hangin’ On tour.

Fisayo Akinade

Actor Fisayo Akinade will be speaking to Contact’s CEO and artistic director Keisha Thompson for a night of conversation about the 50 things that have shaped him. A former member of Contact Young Company, now has a flourishing career on stage and screen, with roles on TV including in Netflix series Heartstopper and appearances at the National Theatre.

There’s also a night of Doctor Who-themed entertainment from Carrot and Friends as they put an LGBTQ+ twist on the adventures of the Time Lord in the Tardis with a night of burlesque, stand-up and drag.

There will be more laughs guaranteed when drag comedian Lady Bushra takes to the stage. The creation of British Asian stand-up artist Amir, his alter ego blends South Asian and British sensibilities for an evening of comedy, ingenious lipsync performances and one-liners,

Lady Bushra

There’s also a night with the Cocoa Butter Club, an award-winning performance company that showcases and celebrates performers of colour and will put on a spirited soiree featuring burlesque, live music, drag, voguing and hula hooping. Diversity will also be celebrated when The Bitter Peach’s Peach Chutney Crew take to the stage at Queer Contact. The UK’s only gender-diverse Pan-Asian cabaret collective, this group is on a mission to empower the queer Asian community by providing safe spaces, diversifying Asian representation, and educating non-Asians on racial issues.

Tickets for all the events at Queer Contact are now sale. To view the whole programme and book, go to the Queer Contact section of Contact’s website here.

What has been said about Queer Contact?

CEO and artistic director of Contact, Keisha Thompson, said: “We’re so excited to be bringing the best in LGBTQ+ arts and culture together once again for Queer Contact 2023. Our flagship queer arts festival has been central to our mission and vision for over a decade and will continue to cement our spot on Manchester’s cultural map for many more decades to come.

“In 2023, as we celebrate our 50th birthday, Queer Contact is characterised by joy; from a Dr Who-themed cabaret to an evening with Heartstopper’s Fisayo Akinade, we’re here to platform a huge spectrum of queer lived experience; focusing on kindness, community and celebration.”