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Sheffield is the backdrop for this passionate meeting of minds, where the biggest political, social and economic affairs of the day will be thrashed out in a series of fast-moving panel discussions and Q&A sessions. This year’s themes include Who We Are, Living Together, Our Democracy, Our Planet and Looking Forward, so switch on your brain and prepare to be scintillated.
Your entire childhood is under one roof at Comic Con Manchester. Shout “Mahoney!” at Police Academy’s Steve Guttenberg. Flap an autograph book at Gremlins star Zach Galligan, Lost Boy Jason Patric and original Baywatch pin-up Erika Eleniak. Take a seat on a full-scale mock-up of the Simpsons couch – and keep your lightsaber close at hand as you brave a recreation of the Star Wars Cantina Bar.
Sweat will drip, muscles will burn and sinews will strain as the world’s top triathlon stars descend on Leeds to run, swim and bike it out for the title. You could take the easy option, kicking back in the grandstand and shouting your heart out along with 75,000 of the most sport’s passionate fans. Or sign up, smash your own personal best and stake your claim on the coveted GB tri-suit that’s up for grabs as the star prize.
Dust off your lederhosen and follow the sound of the oompah band down to Durham’s Millennium Place for a day of traditional German culture. To celebrate the city’s half-century ties with the German town of Tübingen, there’ll be live folk and brass music, film screenings, quirky storytelling and offbeat poetry – not to mention endless foaming steins of German bier and the best sausages and pretzels you’re ever likely to taste.
If you’ve had a sluggish spring, shake off the cobwebs with this international festival of physical theatre. With performances taking place at venues across the city, Physical Fest covers everything from the circus acrobatics of Animal Religion to the fast-paced, female-focused celebration of the Tmesis Training Company. You can even sharpen your own skills with workshops in improvisation, expressive performance and physical comedy.
If you thought that Khaled Hosseini’s internationally acclaimed sequel to The Kite Runner was poignant on the page, just wait until you see it brought vividly to life in Ursula Rani Sarma’s hit stage production. Come to Newcastle’s Northern Stage theatre for A Thousand Splendid Suns, and be transported to the Middle East by a bittersweet tale that captures all the beauty and agony of Afghan society.
The world’s longest-running film festival has a habit of breaking earth-shaking new talent and a reputation for screening the edgy indie flicks that burst Hollywood’s bubble. Roll up for major world premieres, sneak peeks at next-big-things, grandiose soundtrack performances by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – and maybe even a brush with a visiting A-lister (local hero Ewan McGregor has been known to drop in).
Let’s face it, most of us will never make it into space – but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an astronaut-style money shot of planet Earth. As a star attraction of this year’s Liverpool River Festival, British artist Luke Jerram’s floating Gaia artwork measures seven metres in diameter, with 120dpi NASA-quality imagery giving you an authentic impression of our planet as it appears from the moon. Consider yourself awestruck.
Don’t mistake Avenue Q’s colourful cast for The Muppets, or expect the pre-school humour of Sesame Street. In a world gone mad, these outrageous puppets are the sharpest socio-political commentators around, and they’re bringing Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez’s Tony-award-winning musical comedy to the King’s Theatre in Glasgow. You’d be a muppet to miss it.
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