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.

Our top picks
Theatre 22 September–7 October 2017, from £10

People, Places and Things at HOME

Emma is an actor trying to overcome addiction, but what else can help her cope with life’s problems?

Exhibitions 23 September–5 November 2017, FREE

British Ceramics Biennial 2017 in Stoke-on-Trent

Head down to the world’s pottery capital to experience the cutting-edge future of one of the world’s most ancient disciplines.

Sports 20–23 September 2017, from £10:00 - 15.00

We’re Not Really Here – A Football Opera at Contact

The excitement of a goalmouth scramble and the pressure of a penalty shootout are put under the spotlight in this new theatre show about football fandom.

Exhibitions 21–24 September 2017, from £9.75

Abandon Normal Devices 2017, Castleton

Experience art in caves, valleys flooded with light, and the ancient mythologies of the underground world this September at Abandon Normal Devices 2017.

Theatre 14 September–14 October 2017, from £10.00

Our Town at the Royal Exchange

Thornton Wilder’s play about everyday life is far from ordinary, and captures something eternal and cosmic.

Dance 28–30 September 2017, from £12.50

Rambert – Ghost Dances Plus Other Works at The Lowry

Spirits of the dead take over the stage in an electrifying dance piece at the centre of this unmissable triple bill at The Lowry.

Dance 28–29 September 2017, from £16.50

Bayadère – The Ninth Life at The Lowry

A new set has been created by the theatre designer who collaborated on the poppies at the Tower of London for this stunning dance piece, which interrogates perceptions of ‘the east’.

Music 24 September 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Mahler – Symphony No. 3 at The Bridgewater Hall

Juanjo Mena will be joined by a vast ensemble of musicians and singers for Mahler’s Symphony No.3, as he begins his final season as the BBC Philharmonic’s Chief Conductor.

Music 4 October–11 December 2017, FREE

RNCM Autumn Season

Featuring a legendary chanteuse, an exploration of science in music, a bombastic orchestra recital and a classic film with musical accompaniment, the RNCM’s Autumn Season is action-packed and offers something for everyone. Read on for our top picks.

Families 19 October–5 November 2017, from £6

Big Imaginations Festival

This autumn, Big Imaginations will celebrate and showcase the highest quality theatre for children and families in over 26 venues across the North West.

Exhibitions 7–30 September 2017, FREE

Fabrications Festival in Lancashire

The UK’s first festival dedicated to exploring and celebrating textiles and the textile industry through the eyes of contemporary artists.

Music 11 October 2017, from £15.00

UpClose: Aziz Ibrahim – From Lahore to Longsight at HOME

Longsight-born guitarist Aziz Ibrahim has worked with the likes of The Stone Roses, Simply Red and Paul Weller – but his own album, Lahore to Longsight, is the focus of this concert, which charts the journey of Aziz’s father from a divided India to Pakistan to Manchester, recording Aziz’s own path to self-identity and cultural acceptance in the process.

Exhibitions 22 September–5 November 2017, FREE

AND A 123 at Castlefield Gallery

Castlefield Gallery’s new group show invites us to take a minty-fresh look at the world around us.

Exhibitions 14 September–12 November 2017, FREE

Katab: Quilting Stories from India at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

An exhibition that looks likely to challenge perceptions of ‘traditional craft’ in the world of today, while deepening our understanding of an old form of Indian quilting and the women behind it.

Festivals 25–29 October 2017, from £10.00

Gothic Manchester Festival 2017

Gothic Manchester Festival is back in style this October. Goths, steampunks and assorted ‘weirdo mosher freaks’ can let their hair down with a series of film screenings, literary events and the annual conference.

Culture Guides


From big brash musicals to terrifying horror and silent movie masterpieces – there’s something for everyone in our latest Cinema Guide.


This month’s top picks all share a notably political emphasis – using art to highlight the many vast divisions that have underpinned society over the last 100 years.


A month to explore the best cultural experiences with kids across the region. Festivals across the North, an enchanted Chester Zoo and the amazing Winter Droving in Penrith.

Actor Timothy West reads poetry at Stoller Hall during Manchester Literature Festival.


Autumn is officially upon us – with literature meeting music, fashion and art, festivals a-go-go, and the return of some of our live literature and spoken word favourites after the summer break.


As the festival season draws to a close, live music returns to the city’s concert halls and venues. Why not check out Manchester Folk Festival – new in 2017 – plus major events like Transformer and Manchester Psych Fest.


Gig theatre, an American classic and two people dancing like idiots – all this and more in our monthly guide.

Destination Guides

Things to do right now

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Exhibitions 17 August–23 September 2017, FREE

On-Going at SLOE Gallery

Sports 20–23 September 2017, from £10:00 - 15.00

We’re Not Really Here – A Football Opera at Contact

Theatre 6–23 September 2017, from £13.00

Rita, Sue and Bob Too at Octagon Theatre

Festivals 14–24 September 2017, FREE

Arts Trail at Hidden Altrincham 2017

Exhibitions 21–24 September 2017, from £9.75

Abandon Normal Devices 2017, Castleton

Festivals 8–24 September 2017, FREE

New Mills Festival 2017

Festivals 8–24 September 2017, FREE

New Mills Festival Art Trail

Cinema 20 August–24 September 2017, from £5.00

Musical Sundays at FACT

Families 28 April–27 September 2017, from £5.00

The Sleep Walk at Little Moreton Hall