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Manchester Mindfulness Festival

MI Innovations Team
Jun 5, 2024

The winners of the current round of the Innovations in Mindfulness Awards will be announced at the Manchester Mindfulness Festival, on 19th October 2024. We’re delighted with this collaboration, and we asked the Festival’s founder, Christoph Spiessens, to tell us a bit about it.

What’s the story behind the Manchester Mindfulness Festival?

I love mindfulness, Manchester, and bringing people together. That’s pretty much it! The country was coming out of lockdown and there was a huge desire for in-person events again. I literally Googled to see if this concept of a big mindfulness event in Manchester already existed, but I couldn’t find anything - so I decided to hire a venue, find some speakers and volunteers who were interested in supporting this grassroots event, reach out to mindfulness organisations to see if they wanted to get involved, and set up a website. The event turned out to be a modest yet important success, and the generous guest feedback inspired us to make this a yearly event. Guest numbers have increased year on year, people travel from abroad to attend, and we are delighted to welcome some truly high-profile speakers from the mindfulness field and to have the support of wonderful organisations like The Mindfulness Initiative. 

The theme for this year’s Festival is ‘Unexpected Approaches’. Why is this an important topic to explore?

It helps us to keep an open mind. As in any field, there can be some territoriality and even elitism, but there is little use in pigeonholing mindfulness when instead it could help make an important difference to a range of populations within new contexts, with new research to support these new approaches. 

Why does it make sense for the Festival to host the Innovations in Mindfulness Awards 2024?

We believe that the Awards speak exactly to the previous point. Your initiative gives “new voices” a bigger platform to be heard and reach more people. The underpinning values of making mindfulness practice more accessible, diverse, and effective are particularly aligned with the aims and values of the Festival. We are absolutely thrilled about our collaboration. 

What else can participants look forward to seeing at the Festival?

As with previous editions, we pride ourselves on bringing together high-profile mindfulness experts as well as local, lesser-known practitioners and researchers who are doing incredible work. This year we’re excited to be introducing an optional, BAMBA-approved retreat day on Friday 18th, also at the Bridgewater Hall. On the actual festival day on Saturday, our guests can also chat with representatives from all the different mindfulness organisations that have a stall in our community space, such as the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation, The Mindfulness Network, BAMBA, Breathworks, MiSP, and many more. 

And finally, what’s your favourite mindfulness practice?

This may be somewhat different, but I found mindfulness after a panic attack on a busy Manchester tram. I never wanted to have that experience again, and was keen to find a way of understanding and holding my anxiety in a different way. My favourite practice, obviously based on learning the foundational skills from the formal mindfulness practices, is therefore to drop into mindful awareness when I take the tram. Or any other places where I have a sense of feeling trapped or stuck, such as a long supermarket queue or a busy flight. Those moments provide me with ample opportunity to practise and relate more skilfully to unpleasant bodily sensations, stressful thoughts, or whatever stimuli come my way!  

MI Innovations Team


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