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Cultural Digest: Don't miss these events in Europe this week

Final Fantasy XVI
Final Fantasy XVI Copyright Square Enix
Copyright Square Enix
By Jonny Walfisz
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Don't miss out on these cultural events happening right now, from the highly anticipated Manchester International Festival to the latest edition in the Diablo video game series.

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It’s your friendly neighbourhood weekly Euronews Culture Digest. Back again to serve you a starter, main and dessert from the bountiful buffet that is European culture this week. Over in Britain, this weekend’s culture supplements will be dominated with coverage of Glastonbury Festival. If you, like me, haven’t bagged a ticket to see Elton John, the Arctic Monkeys and Guns N’ Roses; here’s what else is on offer to check out.

Festival

Next week, Manchester finally unveils its highly anticipated Manchester International Festival. The festival comes with the launch of a massive arts venue meant to rival the best of London’s cultural offerings. Factory International was the massive venue planned in the place of the old Granada Studios. Running millions over budget and deadline, the Manchester City Council initiative, Factory International, has now been renamed the Aviva Studios after the namesake insurance giant bought the rights for the title for £35 m.

Still, the inaugural festival in the new building will bring fine art, dance, theatre, music and more to Manchester. Centrepiece exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ brings together a collection of Kusama’s most significant inflatable artworks from the past 30 years, most of which have not been seen before in the UK.

Other artists to feature at the festival include actor Maxine Peake, Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, a live photographic performance by Benji Reid, plus a diverse music programme including performances from Angélique Kidjo, Alison Goldfrapp and a night of dance and music from award-winning choreographer Sharon Eyal, Gai Behar and record label Young.

Film

Cannes may be over for another year, but my most exciting film announcement quietly dropped this week. From the director of sumptuous gay love story Call Me By Your Name, psycho-horror remake Suspiria and cannibal romance film Bones And All, is a brand new film that promises something entirely different. The first trailer for Luca Guadagnino next film Challengers has Zendaya playing a young hot-shot tennis player fielding the romantic advances of two best friends played by ‘The Crown’s Josh O’Conner and Mike Faist.

Just from the Rhianna-soundtracked trailer, it looks like a combination of ‘Infinite Jest’ with Y tu mamá también. Think intense sports rivalries meet complex love triangles. The film won’t release until September, so for the moment enjoy the tantalising trailer.

Exhibitions

Now fully in the swing of things, Helsinki’s Biennial runs from 11 June to 17 September this year. Fancy a trip to Finland? It won’t be complete this summer without checking out the huge amount the city has to offer in art across Vallisaari Island, HAM Helsinki Art Museum and other locations in the capital.

Helsinki hasn’t exactly always been known for its art galleries. That’s all the more reason to check out the Biennial, the country’s concerted effort to change that reputation. It’s a leader in sustainability too, as one of the greenest art festivals in the world. With the option to see free exhibitions at Vallisaari Island after taking a ferry over there, it’s also one of the most picturesque locations for art right now.

Music

Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Rós have returned after a decade away with their eighth album ‘Átta’, (eight in Icelandic). Second only to Björk as Iceland’s most famous musical export, Sigur Rós seemed unstoppable when they last headlined music festivals with 2013’s ‘Kveikur’. The last 10 years have not been easy on the band. Two tax evasion lawsuits and an accusation of sexual assault kept them busy. The lawsuits got thrown out, as did the accused member, while keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson returned to produce this unexpected new album.

It’s a welcome return. More ethereal than ever, Sigur Rós have produced an album that plays both with minimalism and a 41-piece orchestra at points. They’re still the cinematic masters of gushing emotional resonance, while never overstepping into parody. It’s good to have you back Sigur Rós.

TV Series

And just like that... 'And Just Like That...' is back. The sequel series to the trailblazing HBO show 'Sex and the City' has returned for its highly anticipated second series. Picking up two decades after the events of the original show, we're back in the inimitable hands of Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw and her best pals Miranda and Charlotte. 

The first series was met with a muted reception, although 'Sex and the City' megafan Tim Gallagher did sing its praises last year. The big headline of the second series is the cameo return of Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones. But the second, slightly smaller headline is that the second series looks like it has improved upon the first. Could it be a new essential chapter in the 'Sex and the City' legacy?

Video Games

It’s been out a couple of weeks now, but we’d be remiss not to mention the heavyweight titan that just launched in the gaming world. Diablo IV is the first full release in the wildly popular dark fantasy series since Diablo III in 2012.

Still based on the same premise as the previous entries, players re-enter the dark world of Sanctuary as one of a selection of classes including Barbarian, Sorcerer and Necromancer. While it may seem like the game is retreading old paths, Diablo IV is the first in the series to be based in an open world environment and allows players to fight other players.

Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo IVBlizzard Entertainment

For anyone who thinks the order that Star Wars films are released is confusing, they've clearly never engaged with the Final Fantasy games series. With almost endless re-releases and spin-offs, the day that a whole new entry comes out is always exciting. 36 years after the release of Final Fantasy in 1987, the latest version Final Fantasy XVI is now available. 

The action heavy RPG takes place over a 50 hour plus storyline that is just as epic as ever. Final Fantasy XVI comes with five kingdoms, endless characters, and massive set pieces, but in true form for the series, anyone can jump in without any prior knowledge to get invested in some of the most epic storytelling in video game history.

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