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Giant insects and birds, street food and the circus…


  • Catalan company Sarruga opens the Festival with a street takeover by their giant Insectes
  • A Circus Hub in centre:mk hosts a feast of circus for Circus250 including the UK premiere of Halka by Groupe Acrobatique De Tanger from Morocco
  • More UK premieres from Schweigman& (Holland), Back to Back Theatre (Australia) and Theater Tol (Holland)
  • The English premiere of Karine Polwart’s Wind Resistance
  • Dries Verhoeven’s ground-breaking Phobiarama
  • First chance to see a summer incarnation of Jony Easterby’s For the Birds
  • World-class music, comedy, family events and cabaret in the Spiegeltent including Addictive TV’s Orchestra of Samples with special guest Dame Evelyn Glennie

PRODUCED by The Stables every two years, IF: Milton Keynes International Festival returns for its fifth edition from Friday 20 to Sunday 29 July. centre:mk, Milton Keynes’ iconic shopping centre, is supporting the Festival as its headline sponsor.

Middleton Hall and Queens Court will be joining the public spaces of the city and venues including The Stables and Milton Keynes Theatre to host a programme of new commissions, outdoor and large-scale performance, live music, circus, stand-up comedy, family activities and free events.

The International Festival aims to transform Milton Keynes for ten amazing days, encouraging a sense of pride, and promoting the city nationally and internationally.
For 2018, the Festival’s programme is underpinned by the contemporary themes of migration, community, identity and home – what connects us and what divides us, say the organisers.
Woburn Media, publisher of Business MK, is producing the official newspaper of the IF Milton Keynes International Festival 2018.
For more details, email sales@businessmk.co.uk or call 01908 394501.
Highlights include:

Catalan company Sarruga and their city-conquering Insectes taking over the streets for the free opening night event.

IF: Milton Keynes International Festival is known for its stunning large-scale opening events. For Insectes, giant mechanical insects parade through the city streets in a larger-than-life spectacle with music and special effects.

Operated by cycle power, these mini-beasts become super-sized fantastical steam-breathing giants towering over cars and audiences, feasting on trees and staring into upper floor windows. The Insectes weave their way through the city, ending up in Campbell Park for a firework finale.

Central Milton Keynes July 20 9.45pm

The UK premiere of Halka by Groupe Acrobatique De Tanger from Morocco.

This collective of 14 acrobats and musicians offer us their perspective on their hometown of Tangier.

Halka – the Arabic word to describe the circle formed by a crowd gathered around street performers – takes its audiences on a journey through bustling market places, cafés and beaches, sharing stories with a combination of traditional and contemporary acrobatics, tumbling and high-flying human pyramids.

Having worked with a number of international directors, Halka is notably directed by female company member, Abdeliazide Senhadji. It will be performed in the Circus Hub within Middleton Hall in centre:mk, as part of the Festival’s celebrations of Circus250, marking 250 years of contemporary circus.

Groupe Acrobatique De Tanger is the biggest company that the Festival has ever brought to Milton Keynes.
Circus Hub in Middleton Hall, centre:mk July 27-29


La Cocina Pública, a mobile community kitchen housed in a shipping container from Chilean company Teatro Container.

Every city, town or village has its own secret recipes, the ones that do not appear on official menus. The members of Teatro Container will work with the community in West Bletchley  to go in search of those recipes and their associated stories.

Using food to create social interaction, and drawing on local traditions and neighbourhood customs, La Cocina Pública brings communities together to cook, eat, and enjoy live music and conversation.

The event is part of the company’s UK premiere tour.

West Bletchley July 27-29

The only UK performances of Dutch theatre maker and visual artist Dries Verhoeven’s Phobiarama following its London premiere.

An artist who aims to highlight socio-political reality, Verhoeven invites his audiences on board a theatrical ‘ghost train’ to explore our contemporary culture of fear, difference and migration with its ever-increasing threats and paranoia.

Visitors will be swept along on a thought-provoking tour of today’s angst-fuelling media landscape that’s so often flawlessly exploited by politicians, terrorists, marketers and fake news.

Campbell Park July 20-29 (no performance July 24)

The UK premiere of The Democratic Set Milton Keynes, a film made in three days by Australia’s Back To Back Theatre.

Back To Back Theatre has been instrumental in bringing exemplary art made by people with disabilities to audiences and community participants worldwide.

The Democratic Set is a residency model for creating work which explores the belief that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy social, political and economic rights and opportunities.  

Back To Back will work in collaboration with Milton Keynes residents and community groups to make a short film with a custom-made set to capture a series of short live performances and video portraits.

Filming in Central Milton Keynes July 23-25, editing July 26, screening July 27 (location tbc)


Jony Easterby’s immersive night-time adventure For the Birds – where sound and light take flight.

At an historicwoodland location, audiences embark on a self-guided journey following a trail of installations – performances, sound, projections and kinetic sculptures – which celebrate birds in song, movement and flight.

Artists including Mark Anderson, Jony Easterby, Kathy Hinde and Ulf Pederson explore the boundaries between raw elemental materials, natural dynamics, sound technology and composition.
Linford Manor Park, Great Linford July 20-27 (no event on Tuesday 24 July)


The first English performances of Wind Resistance, a solo show created and performed by singer-songwriter Karine Polwart. 

A hit at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2016, Wind Resistance was nominated for Best New Play, Best Production, Best Director and was winner of Best Music & Sound at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2017.

Karine Polwart has also just won Folk Singer of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018.

The Stables, Wavendon July 26-28


The UK premiere of For The Time Being fromHolland’s Schweigman& and Slagwerk Den Haag.

Dutch artist Boukje Schweigman, artistic director of Utrecht’s Schweigman& creates wordless visual and musical theatre which sharpens the senses.

Here she works with percussion group Slagwerk Den Haag to create For The Time Being, a playful experiment with the audience’s experience of time. This promenade performance is at Milton Keynes Theatre which sees the venue taking part in the International Festival for the first time.

Milton Keynes Theatre July 22-23


The UK Premiere of large-scale installation Life of Tree by Belgian company Theater Tol.

Life of Tree consists of vast illuminated dresses, each symbolising a remarkable woman from history including Simone de Beauvoir and Florence Nightingale. Each dress has an accompanying soundtrack, spoken word and dance piece paying tribute to the women’s pioneering courage, strength and intelligence.

Festival Central, Campbell Park July 20-29 (performance times to be announced)


The Spiegeltent has been a hit since its first outing in 2010 and will again serve up the best in music, comedy, family events and cabaret throughout the 10 days of the Festival, including:

  • Paul Young and Los Pacaminos
  • Comedians Mark Watson and Tom Allen;
  • Folk music royalty Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
  • Newton Faulkner
  • Comedy 4 Kids.

The Spiegeltent, Campbell Park July 20-29

Just added to the Spiegeltent programme is a one-off concert from pioneering audio-video remixers and electronic duo Addictive TV’s Orchestra of Samples.

Orchestra of Samples brings together over 200 musicians from nearly 30 countries to form an on-screen supergroup. Joining them live on stage for this unique performance will be world-famous percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie

To create the Orchestra, Addictive TV filmed improvised recording sessions with musicians from around the worldover six years, including in Brazil, Egypt, Senegal, Colombia, even Bhutan.

They then sampled, spliced and re-imagined the music resulting in an extraordinary new fusion crossing multiple styles and cultures, a musical journey without borders.

The Spiegeltent, Campbell Park July 23

For all the details and to book tickets, visit www.ifmiltonkeynes.org

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