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
The Alchemy of Colour at The John Rylands Library
Exhibitions 15 March–27 August 2018, FREE

The Alchemy of Colour at The John Rylands Library

Did you know that the remarkable yellows of Turner’s sunsets came from the urine of mango-fed cows? Or that the reds of Raphael’s greatest masterpieces derived from cactus-dwelling bugs? The Alchemy of Colour at The John Rylands Library explores the unusual stories behind some of art history’s most dazzling hues.

Soyuz TMA-19M: Tim Peake’s Spacecraft at the Museum of Science And Industry
Exhibitions 10 March–13 May 2018, FREE

Soyuz TMA-19M: Tim Peake’s Spacecraft at the Museum of Science and Industry

Be among the first to see the Soyuz capsule that brought Tim Peake back to earth alongside his historic Space Suit as the Museum of Science and Industry becomes Mission Control this spring.

The Game: 30 years through the lens of Stuart Roy Clarke at the National Football Museum, Manchester
Exhibitions 23 March 2018–17 March 2019, FREE

The Game: 30 years through the lens of Stuart Roy Clarke at the National Football Museum

Since 1989, photographer Stuart Roy Clarke has been on a mission of epic proportions. Its goal: to capture the very heart, soul, sweat and tears of British football.

Poet Hannah Silva. Photo by Field and McGlynn
Literature 24 March 2018, FREE

Poets & Players with Hannah Silva at The Whitworth

The second Poets & Players event of the year will feature readings by Carcanet poet Anthony Rudolf and poet, playwright and performer Hannah Silva, with live music from RNCM harpists the Septentrion Duo.

George Osodi, Nigerian Monarchs (HRH Shehu of Borno Empire Abubakar Umar Garbai El Kanemi), 2016. Liverpool Biennial 2018, international festival of contemporary art
Exhibitions 14 July–28 October 2018, FREE

Liverpool Biennial 2018

The 10th edition of the UK’s largest festival of international contemporary art, Liverpool Biennial 2018 (14 July – 28 October), is drawing ever closer, and the newly announced programme suggests there’ll be little to disappoint.

wonder women 2018
Festivals 1–31 March 2018,

Wonder Women 2018

Wonder Women 2018 is a special edition of Manchester’s annual radical feminist festival, marking 100-years since some women first won the right to vote in Britain with a city-wide programme of art, culture and debate.

Music 24 March 2018, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Copland | Korngold | Vaughan Williams

John Wilson is our translator for two journeys into the great wide open: Copland’s Appalachian Spring paints a vivid portrait of rural Pennsylvania, while Vaughan Williams’s wartime Fifth Symphony sings of a troubled England

Music 17–25 March 2018, from £21

RNCM Opera: Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck at the RNCM

The RNCM Opera tackles Engelbert Humperdinck’s operatic version of the Brothers Grimm’s early 19th Century fairytale Hansel and Gretel for its major spring production. Expect a tale of transition, redemption and resolution, set to folk music-inspired themes, for a piece that is equal parts dark and magical.

Chiharu Shiota –Uncertain Journey, 2016, Blainsouthern Berlin, Germany. Installation metal frames red wool. Photo Christian Gglaaser. Copyright Vgbildkunstbonn 2017 and the artist. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Exhibitions 1 January 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2018 Guide

Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s 2018 programme of international contemporary art has left us itching to get out of the city and back to one of our all-time-favourite places.

Paint Your Wagon at Liverpool Everyman
Families 3 March–14 July 2018, from £10.00

Paint Your Wagon at Liverpool Everyman

Join Liverpool’s Everyman Company for their musical revival of Paint Your Wagon – it’ll be a sensational foot-tapping hoedown.

Cinema 1–31 March 2018, from £5.00

One Film Wonders at HOME

Phase IV, The Widow, One-Eyed Jacks, Nil By Mouth and Barbara Loden’s astonishing Wanda…there is a whole series of remarkable films by filmmakers who stepped behind the camera just the once. HOME explores these one off bursts of creativity in this new film season.

Music 24 March 2018, from £15

RNCM Big Band and Chamber Orchestra with Markus Stockhausen at the RNCM

German trumpeter and composer Markus Stockhausen brings the knowledge and experience gained during his a prolific three-decade career to the RNCM, as he works with students to encourage their improvisational skills before joining the Big Band and Chamber Orchestra for this programme of his compositions.

Sergey Ponomarev Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2013 Assad's Syria (2013-2014). IWM North
Exhibitions 16 February–28 May 2018, FREE

Syria: A Conflict Explored at IWM North

IWM North launches a season of exhibitions and events that attempt to cut through the complexity surrounding the Syrian crisis, and offer a human account of what’s happening in the country today.

Lakes Ignite 2018, The Lake District National Park
Exhibitions 10 January–31 July 2018, FREE

Lakes Ignite 2018, The Lake District National Park

A giant, fluorescent pink and orange striped inflatable, a shoal of Ice Age fish, and a VR encounter with the depths of the earth; six contemporary artists explore the less commonly-observed wonders of the Lake District.

Exhibitions 16 February–3 June 2018, FREE

Anthony McCall: Solid Light Works at The Hepworth, Wakefield

The world premiere of three new immersive, interactive ‘solid light’ installations by Anthony McCall opens at The Hepworth Wakefield, as part of a major survey of the artist’s work.

Culture Guides

Theatre: RASA and Contact: Handlooms


Let us chase off those winter blues with our picks of the best theatre and performances happening in Manchester and beyond.

Sonia Boyce at Manchester Art Gallery, exhibitions in the North West


In the wake of nation-wide controversy, Sonia Boyce opens at Manchester Art Gallery; Liverpool Biennial reveals its 2018 programme; and a Lake District-wide trail of contemporary art responds to the region’s new UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Feast of Fire


Outdoor feasts of fire, indoor theatrical adventure and space sagas with the Soyuz capsule that brought Tim Peake back to earth. March is looking hot to trot.

Poet and performer Hannah Silva. Photo by Field and McGlynn


March ahoy, and we can even spot April on the horizon! There’s lots of brand-new work from both established and emerging writers, and plenty of prose, poetry and performance to fill your mornings, afternoons and evenings, weekdays and weekends.


From death-themed musicals to day-long explorations of the current freakscene, via rising country stars and celebrations of our shared heritage with South Asia, the musical calendar for Manchester and the North is packed to the rafters.


From the astounding new movie from Lynne Ramsay, to HOME’s One Film Wonders and Cumbria’s Picnic Cinema, we round up the best films showing in Manchester and the North.