KENNETH Branagh performing Macbeth in a deconsecrated church, a series of intimate shows by the xx in front of an audience of less than 100 and hip hop pioneers Massive Attack working with film maker Adam Curtis are the first events announced for the Manchester International Festival 2013.

Held every two years, the festival offers 18 days of world premieres, special events and unique collaborations.

This year’s festival will run from Thursday, July 4 to Sunday, July 21.

The first three events go on sale to the general public at 10am today.

One of the highlights will be the return to the stage of Kenneth Branagh in his first Shakesperian role for more than a decade.

Directed by Rob Ashford, this production of Macbeth will take place within the walls of a deconsecrated church.

The xx are one of the most hotly-tipped bands of 2013 and their series of shows will be be in a ‘found space’ in Manchester city centre.

The final event on sale today is described as a ‘collective hallucination’ between Massive Attack and Adam Curtis.

Tickets are available from 10am from or 0844 375 2013.