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
Happy Days at the Royal Exchange
Theatre 25 May–23 June 2018, from £17.00

Happy Days at the Royal Exchange

Following the success of Hamlet, The Skriker and A Streetcar Named Desire, Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake continue their creative collaboration with a revival of Beckett’s surrealist masterpiece, Happy Days.

Kindertransport at Manchester Opera House
Theatre 1–5 May 2018, from £15.00

Kindertransport at Manchester Opera House

Marking the 80th anniversary of Kindertransport, Diane Samuels’ deeply stirring play depicts one woman’s struggle to accept her past.

Music 24 April–27 July 2018, from £12

RNCM Summer Season 2018

Featuring classical, sacred and jazz music, as well as poetry, theatre and dance, the RNCM’s Summer Season looks set to both inspire and surprise. Read our picks for the months ahead.

Childrens 28 April–12 May 2018, from £00.00

Leeds International Festival 2018

Leeds International Festival, the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, is back for its second year, this time featuring more than 50 events and 40 speakers over 15 days.

Spring Awakening at Hope Mill Theatre
Theatre 29 March–3 May 2018, from £16.00

Spring Awakening at Hope Mill Theatre

Spring Awakening combines an electrifying rock score and genre-defying writing to tell the story of sexual and adolescent discovery.

A Clockwork Orange at Liverpool Everyman
Theatre 14 April–12 July 2018, from £10.00

A Clockwork Orange at Liverpool Everyman

The award-winning Everyman Company let loose with an astonishing adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange.

¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival at HOME
Cinema 12 April–5 May 2018,

¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival at HOME

For its 24th edition, ¡Viva! returns with a HOME-wide celebration of film, theatre and visual art from across Spain and Latin America.

The Good Life Experience
Families 14–16 September 2018, from £49

The Good Life Experience 2018 at Hawarden Estate

Exclusive 10% discount for Creative Tourist readers. Co-founded by Cerys Matthews, The Good Life Experience returns for its fifth outing, in the shadows of two castles on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire. The festival features music from the likes of Gwenno, Bill Ryder-Jones and Norman Jay, as well as campfire cooking, spoken word, a 1930s fairground and dozens of activities for all ages.

The National Festival of Making, Blackburn
Exhibitions 12–13 May 2018, FREE

The National Festival of Making 2018

The practical act of DIY, hands-on making is full of benefits, and rapidly becoming a growing trend. Head to the National Festival of Making in Blackburn to unlock your hidden talents and discover your untapped creative potential.

Motionhouse Charge at MediaCityUK Piazza
Dance 9 June 2018, FREE

Motionhouse: Charge at MediaCityUK

For one night only, Quays Culture will host an exclusive FREE outdoor performance with the absolutely electrifying world-class dance-circus company, Motionhouse.

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.

Music 3 May 2018, from £5

RNCM Symphony Orchestra at the RNCM Concert Hall

The RNCM Symphony Orchestra’s first outing of this summer season sees the ensemble perform contrasting works by Bartók, Saint-Saëns and Brahms – all for just £5.

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.

Music 31 May 2018, from £22

Vivaldi Rocks at The Stoller Hall

Hugo Ticciati combines Vivaldi Concertos with arrangements of music by Muse, Metallica and Dream Theatre – demonstrating that the Baroque composer’s work was just as raucous during his lifetime as anything today’s rock stars can offer.

Culture Guides

IOU Theatre: Rear View


The spring/ summer theatre season is in full swing, we’ve got the pick of the performative crop. Read it, pick it and book in.


It’s festival season at the cinemas of the North this month and we’ve got the low-down.

©Viviane Sassen, Ra, series Mud and Lotus 2017. Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa. Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror at The Hepworth Wakefield


Featuring a giant ‘art hammock’, the mesmerising photographs of Vivian Sassen, and a unique exploration into the use of digital technology by indigenous communities in north east Brazil; check out or latest exhibition highlights from across the North West.


Out of this world free festivals of making, magical dance experiences and theatrical adventures for all the family.

Luke Allan, Carcanet New Poetries.


It’s raining poetry and prose this April in the Rainy City, and there’s plenty to catch from both established and emerging writers. Fill your wellie boots – and 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 a fresh look at an art gallery’s collection, the musical calendar for Manchester and the North is packed to the rafters.