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As well as The Destination web stories, I was also asked to write three pages of copy for Square Meal’s magazine under the same premise. Here’s the copy I wrote for the Spring issue… 

Mind-bending Manchester

ImageFor statement of intent, the name FutureEverything is rather big. This ambitious title lends itself not only to a technology and social innovation organisation based in Manchester, but also a festival of art, music and ideas that will be happening in May.

Encouraging debate, unveiling new artworks and welcoming musicians to perform, there’s an awful lot to do across the weekend that organisers describe as an ‘innovation incubator’.

Brazilian electronic musician Amon Tobin will be headlining with his show ISAM, a mind-boggling audiovisual assault on the senses that sees the DJ play inside a massive cube-like structure that projects futuristic interpretations of the music to a wide-eyed  audience.

Meanwhile, experimental music visionary Matthew Herbert will be bringing his One Pig show to the Royal Northern College of Music. The performance is based upon his album of the same name, which follows the life of a pig from birth to dinner plate, and includes the use of the ‘styharp’ – a new instrument designed for the show – which will be played alongside a chef cooking bacon. Food for thought indeed.

FutureEverything Festival will be in Manchester from 16-19 May

An ode to our Bard

The world’s best-loved playwright is also one of the UK’s most iconic figures, so what better way to celebrate the cultural importance of the British Isles in 2012 than with a gigantic festival dedicated to William Shakespeare?

The World Shakespeare Festival sees the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe team up with arts organisations and theatre companies from across the world to stage a whole smorgasbord of the Bard’s plays.

While your usual Hamlets and Macbeths are planned, there will also be the chance to delve into some of the great man’s lesser-known works, including a Japanese production of Cymbeline (by the renowned Ninagowa Company) and a multi-media reworking of Troilus and Cressida.

With almost 70 performances slated, it’s going to be a veritable bonanza of soliloquys and sonnets across the coming months.

World Shakespeare Festival will be happening from 23 April until September

Art from the heart

The queen of controversial contemporary art is back, and she’s returning to her roots. Tracey Emin is set to unveil a major solo exhibition in the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate – the very town that she grew up in.

Emin is exploring the themes of love, sensuality and romanticism in the show, unveiling new works alongside existing ones.

The artist, famous for her confessional work that includes ‘My Bed’ – a recreation of her sleeping environment in all its slutty glory – will undoubtedly spark debate from all sides when the exhibition opens.

A strong supporter of the host gallery since it opened a year ago, Emin previously created a pink neon sign for the exterior that reads ‘I Never Stopped Loving You’.

Tracey Emin’s She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea will be at the Turner Contemporary Gallery from 26 May-23 September

A roll around the Hay

ImageBooks are no longer the preserve of geeks and nerds; reading festivals are springing up all over the place. None, however, are quite as exciting or inspiring as the book behemoth that takes place at Hay-on-Wye in the Brecon Beacons every year.

2012 sees the celebration of Hay Festival’s 25th anniversary, with appearances from comedic musician Tim Minchin, Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel (author of Wolf Hall), and a lecture from John Maddox, who discovered the structure of DNA with Francis Crick.

This is a festival that provides nourishment for the brain as well as the soul, so pull up a deckchair and pull out your favourite paperback before heading off for a gentle debate or three. How terribly civilised.

Visit Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts between 31 May – 10 June

Make your escape

In a world chock-full of music blogs waxing lyrical about the Next Big Thing, it can be difficult to keep up to speed on what’s hot and what’s not in the music world. So what’s a fan to do?

Head to Brighton for The Great Escape, of course. The delightful three-day festival by the sea is the UK’s answer to South by Southwest in Texas, where new bands go to try and get a break.

With over 300 artists playing across 30 venues, bigger acts have been confirmed in the shape of indie bands the Mystery Jets and Maxïmo Park.

For those looking to check out the hot new faces, top of the tree has to be funky indie-electro kids Django Django. Their eponymous debut album is already being touted as one of the top releases of the year.

Also set to impress are dreamy French solo project François & the Atlas Mountains, new soul star Lianne La Havas and inspirational indie-rock five-piece Spector.

The Great Escape Festival takes place in Brighton 10-12 May

Oh, what a night

It may have been the subject of two questionable Ben Stiller movies, but that hasn’t stopped some of the UK’s greatest museums from opening their doors for a range of nocturnal activities during the Museums at Night weekend.

Among the usual exhibitions, there’ll be further flights of fancy through the media of sleepovers, ghost hunts and talks from authors.

This year will also see ten contemporary artists join museums across the country, with their destinations chosen according to public vote.

Amongst those involved are mischievous jelly mongers Bompas and Parr, who could be heading to either Brunel, Leicester or Thurso in Scotland. Wherever they end up, it’s sure to be a night of sensory overload.

Museums at Night is on 18-20 May

Let’s do brunch

Long the preserve of a civilised late-morning social engagement, the tradition of brunch has been enjoying something of a makeover recently.

So wave farewell to eggs Benedict enjoyed over the morning papers, and say hello to a Saturday awash with champagne, DJs and beautiful people strutting their stuff.

First to really pop their cork on the daytime party scene was New York’s Bagatelle restaurant, but the effervescence soon transferred over to England’s fair shores, resulting in more social gatherings than you can shake a well-clad posterior at.

The Love Brunch organisers have made a big splash in the last 12 months, taking on Kensington Roof Gardens, the Sanderson and Supperclub. With designs on some big international parties, theirs is an invitation not to refuse.

Veni Vidici promises Champagne brunches with burlesque and cabaret, with decadence carrying on into AfterBrunch (which is surely a self-defeating name in itself?).

And for those who enjoy a little lowbrow culture with their early morning Bloody Marys, head to Bunga Bunga to indulge in some karaoke. Whoever said brunch was boring?

To view the stories I’ve written for Square Meal’s microsite The Destination, click here.

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