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
Cinema 27 July–30 August 2018, from £5.50

Apostasy at HOME

LAST CHANCE. For his debut feature, director Daniel Kokotajlo delves into his own past for a drama about three women in the Jehovahs Witnesses. We spoke to the filmmaker ahead of the films release.

Poppy, Esme, Oleanna, Gracie and Kate, 2014. Personal Feeling is the main thing - Chantal Joffe at The Lowry, Salford
Exhibitions 19 May 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Salford Royal Academy Takeover

To mark its 250th birthday, the Royal Academy of Arts in London has launched a nationwide programme of exhibitions, displays, tours, talks and one-off events. Here we take a look at what’s going on in Salford – home of RA LS Lowry and now a growing independent art scene.

bbc philharmonic 2018 2019 season at the bridgewater hall manchester
Music 29 September 2018–15 June 2019,

BBC Philharmonic 2018/19 Concert Season

Millions of listeners enjoy BBC Philharmonic concerts on Radio 3, recorded or broadcast live from the outstanding acoustic of The Bridgewater Hall, making this orchestra one of the most widely heard in the country.

Writer Kirsty Logan. Photo copyright Simone Falk.
Literature 23 August 2018, from £8

Penguin Pride Manchester at Z-arts

Penguin Pride comes to Manchester with an awe-inspiring line-up of LGBTQ+ writers, poets and performers to showcase some of the UK’s most exciting queer talent.

Elisabeth Frink - Walking Madonna- © Frink Estate and Archive executors. Courtesy of The Ingram Collection, Image © JP Bland 2016. Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Fragility and Power, Kendal, Cumbria
Exhibitions 22 June–29 September 2018, FREE

Elisabeth Frink: Fragility and Power at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Featuring a number of pieces which have never been seen before in public, ‘Elisabeth Frink: Fragility and Power’ at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal delves into the life and work of one of the most widely-loved, exciting and individual sculptors of the 20th century.

Families 27 July–26 August 2018, from £23.60

The Tempest at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Prepare your picnic and pop the prosecco, Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre plays host to a magical production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Exhibitions 14 July–28 October 2018, FREE

Liverpool Biennial 2018 – Beautiful world, where are you?

If there’s one thing you do this summer, we strongly recommend you hop on a train and make your way over to the 10th edition of the ever-popular Liverpool Biennial – ‘Beautiful world, where are you?’ – a city-wide festival of new and exciting contemporary art from around the world.

Power UP at the Museum of Science and Industry
Families 3–19 August 2018, from £7

Power UP at the Museum of Science and Industry

Stretch those competitive muscles and explore 40 years of video game challenges and design from Pacman to the latest in virtual reality.

Music 6 September–19 December 2018, from £5

RNCM Autumn Season

This Autumn, RNCM is asking the question: what makes something original? Entitled ‘Original Voices’, this future-leaning season showcases artists from across the world who are doing something just that little bit different. With some incredibly exciting and innovative concerts to look forward to, we have compiled our favourites into the guide below. Get ready to encounter technological exploration, multi-sensory experiences as well as performances which pinpoint groundbreaking moments in music.

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

LAST CHANCE. 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.

Families 5 May–28 October 2018, from £Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Journeys of the Imagination at Quarry Bank

Pack your bags for an adventure as you discover the incredible journeys made by the people of Quarry Bank in an interactive trail.

Much Ado About Nothing at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre
Theatre 6 July–25 August 2018, from £22.50

Much Ado About Nothing at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Is it love, or is it hate? Shakespeare’s comedy of merriment, wooing and winning of hearts, returns to Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre this summer.

Families 20 July–5 September 2018, from £Dunham Massey admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Midnight Garden at Dunham Massey

Adventure around the new Midnight Garden trail at Dunham Massey. Discover secret things among the trees, take part in Edwardian storytelling, games and more.

Wild Worlds festival at Chester Zoo
Families 26 May–30 September 2018, from £20

Wild Worlds Festival at Chester Zoo

Art, science, music, performers. Inspired by the incredible and unique worlds of animals and plants, this mind-blowing celebration will have you discovering something new at every turn.

big feast summer in stoke on trent
Exhibitions 1 August–30 September 2018, FREE

Summer in Stoke-on-Trent

Home to a wealth of world-class visitor attractions, award-winning museums, exceptional gardens, five Victorian parks and the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever to be found; Stoke-on-Trent (affectionately nicknamed The Potteries) is bursting with an inspired programme of cultural activity this summer.

Culture Guides

Julian Opie, Julian (2013). Part of Heads Roll at Graves Gallery, Sheffield


A remarkable journey to unpick the secret behind one of the world’s most popular and enduring art genres, a fresh look at the idea of First World War remembrance, and a city-wide takeover in honour of the Royal Academy’s 250th birthday; check out our latest pick of exhibition highlights and must-go events.

Theatre guide Figs in Wigs: Often Onstage at HOME


Everything has been a little sedate in Theatreland over the summer…but now it’s time to yawn and stretch and get ready for the eclectic new season. Make a brew and check out our packed guide to performance in the North.


Pop-up cinemas, outdoor screenings and essential retrospectives — we’ve got it all this summer.

Just So Festivalgoers courtesy Teneight


Wild Worlds, Lost Castles, Journeys of the Imagination, ALL the best festivals. We’ve got this folks.

Writer Nicholas Royle. Photo by Danny Moran.


We have our sights on the top-notch prose on the horizon, poetry is popping up all over the place from bars to galleries, and Manchester Literature Festival is making announcements. Hurry – events have been selling out!


This month’s music guide features some of the country’s most exciting jazz artists, as well as a cutting-edge events series wherein music, art and science collide.