Manchester’s International queer arts festival Queer up North opens next week. The two week programme of theatre, performance, cabaret, music, comedy and debate kicks off on May 12th with Taylor Mac (pictured, right) at the Library Theatre.

The rest of the programme will take place at a range of venues across the city.

This year’s programme features plenty of homegrown talent, as well as productions from Italy, South Africa, Canada, USA, and France.

The Queer Up North organisers have scored a real coup in arranging for the Belgian Spiegeltent La Gayola to pitch in Manchester for the final four days of the festival, bringing lashings of faded grandeur and glamour to Sackville Street.

Artistic Director Jonathan Best says: “This year sees more new work than ever before, with a truly exciting group of artists from the UK and abroad making new shows or premiering their latest work. There’s a diverse line up, so whether you’re up for cutting edge European theatre, the finest drag theatre on the planet, or a night of glamorous cabaret QUN 2009 has something you’ll enjoy.”

Festival highlights include performance art from Ursula Martinez, Taylor Mac, Chris Goode, and Steven Cohen. Debates on art, class and censorship, and storming performances from the legendary Lea Delaria, the fabulous David McAlmont, Scottish funnyman Craig Hill and Scott Capurro who will all be gracing the Speigeltent with their presence.

Queer Up North comes to a conclusion on Monday May 25th with a show to end all shows. Five dangerous, brilliant women tear up the stage in two hours of extravagant performance. Miss Behave, Ursula Martinez, Empress Stah, Julie Atlas Muz, join Marcella Puppini and the Forget-Me-Nots for two hours of pure, polished pleasure.

To book tickets for Queer Up North events visit the QUN website (no booking fees) or call the Festival Box Office on 0870 066 6845, Mon-Sat 9.30am-8pm, Sundays 10am-8pm (no booking fees).

WOS will be covering many of these events, so look out for reviews/new items over the next few days.