Unmissable things to do in Manchester and the North

Discover acclaimed music and stand-out exhibitions, groundbreaking theatre, family, cinema and literary events in Manchester and the North.

We are so grateful to National Lottery players, The National Lottery, DCMS and Arts Council England for supporting our freelance writers during this crisis.

Liverpool Biennial 2021 – The Stomach and the Port
Exhibitions 20 March–6 June 2021, FREE

Liverpool Biennial 2021 – The Stomach and the Port

The 11th edition of the UK’s oldest and largest festival of contemporary visual art is about to open, with work by over 50 artists.

Maxine Peake
Literature 10 February 2021 7:00 pm, from £3

Protest: Stories of Resistance with Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake

Housmans Bookshop and Comma Press have joined forces to host two online events featuring readings from the Protest anthology by renowned British actors Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake.

Hafsah Aneela Bashir
Literature 19–28 February 2021, from £5

Kendal Poetry Festival

For its fifth appearance in our calendars, Kendal Poetry Festival heads online and international from 19 to 28 February, expanding from three days to nine to showcase workshops, talks and performances from over 50 writers.

Classical Music Until 27 May 2021, FREE

Psappha 2020/21 Concert Season

Psappha’s 2020–21 season explores the sharpest and smartest sounds in contemporary classical music, presented in concert and streamed online for free.

Elizabeth Gaskell's House.
Literature 27 January 2021 7:00 pm, from £4

Cranford For Beginners Online Talk with Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Join Libby Tempest, Chair of the Gaskell Society, for an introduction to the novel Cranford, a well-loved classic of Victorian literature.

Music Until 14 April 2021, from £5

The Hallé – The Event Horizon

The Hallé are joined by poet laureate Simon Armitage, virtuoso saxophonist Jess Gillam and Former Hallé Assistant Conductor Jonathon Heyward.

Exhibitions Until 31 January 2021, from £5

The Cooper Prize 2021

The inaugural Cooper Prize picks up where the prestigious and long-running South Yorkshire Open left off, and invites submissions from artists at all stages in their career, be they established professionals and amateurs or emerging recent graduates and students.

Flying Scotsman Eats Lancashire Railway
Activity 2–4 April 2021, from £12.4

Flying Scotsman at East Lancashire Railway

Calling rail enthusiasts big and small! Celebrate steam’s golden age with a trip on the Flying Scotsman this Easter. Locomotive No. 60103  really is the stuff of legends! Not least because it was the world’s first steam train to officially travel at 100 miles per hour, subsequently securing its pivotal place in rail history.

Arunava Sinha
Literature 16–18 February 2021, FREE

Manchester In Translation 2021 online conference

The annual Manchester In Translation conference – part of the global International Mother Language Day celebrations – heads online for three days in 2021, with a series of free masterclasses and talks for budding translators and those with a passion for languages.

Poet Maria Sledmere.
Literature 29 January 2021 7:00 pm, FREE

Each Sharper Halo double book launch online

Join poets Kyle Lovell and Maria Sledmere as they co-launch their new pamphlets, alongside readings from four guest readers, including Nell Osborne of Manchester’s very own premier avant reading series No Matter and contributor to Manchester Review of Books.

Music Until 30 January 2021, FREE

Scruff of the Neck TV

To celebrate the launch of their Twitch channel, Manchester promoter and label Scruff of the Neck will broadcast 10 live shows this January.

Literature 3 February 2021 7:00 pm, from £2

Carcanet online book launch: The Earliest Witnesses by GC Waldrep

American poet and historian, GC Waldrep launches his first UK poetry collection, The Earliest Witnesses, with Manchester’s Carcanet Press.

Judith Willson by Lucy Cartwright
Literature 10 February 2021 7:00 pm, from £2

Carcanet online book launch: Fleet by Judith Willson

Judith Willson celebrates the launch of her second poetry collection, Fleet, with an online reading and discussion with fellow Carcanet Press poet Helen Tookey. 

Cinema Until 31 March 2021, from £3.49

American Utopia – Streaming on Amazon Prime

In his wildly popular Broadway show American Utopia, David Byrne reflects on human connections, life and how on earth we work through it.

Zog Live onstage at The Lowry theatre
Families 2–4 July 2021, from £16


Enjoy Zog live at The Lowry in an incredible new adaptation which is packed with lively songs from Joe Stilgie and lots of fire-breathing fun.

Culture Guides

Cinema in Manchester and the North

Our guide to cinema features brand new streaming films, classic favourites and a look back at the year’s cinematic highlights.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North


Lockdown 3.0 may be wearing thin but there is light at the end of the tunnel, with many galleries and museums hoping to reopen in March.

Family Things to do in Manchester


Need some inspiration for online activities and creative family fun? Look no further than our top picks online for families across Manchester and the North.

Hafsah Aneela Bashir


Lockdown may be looming large, but Live Literature Land has you covered: from book launches and literary salons to online open mics and full-on festivals, activities and events continue virtually.


With physical gigs still *sigh* off the cards, livestreamed events continue to help us connect with our favourite artists and venues, while supporting the industry around them.

Theatre in Manchester


Our guide to theatre in Manchester and the North features stand-out online performance and all the best streamed theatre events to enjoy at home.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Pizza Punks

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

For the December guide, we’re looking at the best delivery options in Manchester, whether it’s for alcohol or food.

Isolation Broadcast

Online events

Discover the best things to do online from the organisations we love in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

Embrace your creative side or find the time to unwind your mind in this month’s guide of Tours and Activities.