Unmissable things to do in Manchester and the North

Discover fantastic things to do in Manchester and the North – from cinema, concerts, art exhibitions and theatre to outdoor family events and sizzling spoken word.

Our top picks
Members of Public Service Broadcasting in space
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Science Festival 2016

Manchester Science Festival returns with its innovative combination of science, technology, music, art, literature, fashion, food and more. The programme for this, the festival’s tenth year, is bigger and better than ever, featuring the science of gin and gambling, a sleep lab in the Arndale, a Harry Potter-inspired tea and, of course, a very special birthday party.

LightPool Festival
Festivals 28 October 2016–2 November 2016, FREE

LightPool Festival 2016 in Blackpool

Taking place during Blackpool’s annual Illuminations display, the first ever LightPool Festival is a celebration of spectacular art works, which will appear in the town centre 28 October – 2 November.

Berlin Now: Theatre Season
Theatre 3 November 2016–5 November 2016, from £3.00

Theatre Season: Berlin Now at HOME

A festival of Berlin theatre productions taking place at Manchester’s HOME.

Theatre 12 November 2016–3 December 2016, from £18.00

Hair the musical at Hope Mill Theatre

Hair deals with difficult issues – drug use, sexual revolution and political protest – but is packed full of proper pop songs, and should be another singalong success for Hope Mill Theatre.

Families 24 October 2016, from £12.00

The Philosopher’s Scone: magic tricks at Harvey Nicks

Enter the world of Harry Potter and experience a family afternoon tea like with Roger Highfield, author of The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works followed by a screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Idris Khan
Exhibitions 14 October 2016–19 March 2017, FREE

Idris Khan at the Whitworth

Idris Khan’s artworks are that rare thing: both visually and conceptually fascinating. A number of Khan’s seminal pieces will be on show at this new solo exhibition at the Whitworth, showcasing the artist’s preoccupation with representing time over duration within a single instance.

Literature 4 November 2016, from £35.00

National Creative Writing Graduate Fair

Are you a creative writer with aspirations to be published? Come and pitch your ideas to literary agents; learn about the writing life through panels, workshops and networking opportunities, and hear a keynote speech from author Kit de Waal.

Playwright Shelagh Delaney, taken in 1961 by Arnold Newman.
Literature 3 November 2016, FREE

Charlotte Delaney

Charlotte Delaney, daughter of the late Salford-born playwright and ‘Morrissey muse’ Shelagh Delaney, premieres her play Sweet Responsibility, about friendship and activism between two 70-something women in Greater Manchester. She will also be in conversation with historian and Shelagh Delaney biographer Selina Todd.

Taken with iPhone 6 (GSM+CDMA),iOS 9.1
Exhibitions 29 October 2016–26 February 2017, FREE

Perpetual Movement at The Lowry

A candle infused with 23 unique scents from space – including ‘burnt gunpowder’ for the moon and an ‘old penny’ for Mars – will be burnt at the finale of this major new exhibition at The Lowry. Part of a nationwide programme marking the Rambert dance company’s 90th anniversary, Perpetual Movement brings together work by international artists with objects, footage and costumes from the Rambert archives.

Ghosts at HOME
Theatre 18 November 2016–3 December 2016, from £10.00

Ghosts at HOME

Sex, scandal and syphilis – as you might well imagine, not everyone approved of this play when it was first performed in 1880, but Ibsens classic is just as powerful as it ever was.

Culture Guides

Image of David Gaffney copyright Kezia Tan.


With Rising Stars and World Literature, nothing says October in the Rainy City like Manchester Literature Festival. As we enter the final furlongs, there are still tickets available for some events, from creative non-fiction to a canalside special commission. And once MLF is over, Manchester Science Festival will be chemically enhancing words with poems about the periodic table.

Field Music


As the days get shorter, Manchester’s music calendar gets busier – with the city’s music…

Penny Arcade at Unity Theatre


You’ll be pleased to hear that this month’s theatre selections serve up a rich slice of everyone’s three favourite things: sex, swearing and scandal.

Victoria - Image courtesy of HOME


As always, October brings with it a surplus of scary films timed to coincide with Halloween.

Cape Farewell presents: Cloud Crash


The very best exhibitions in Manchester and the North include a collaboration with a renowned dance company, the return of Manchester Science Festival (bigger and better than ever), a showcase of exquisite craft at the Old Granada Studios, and much more. All in all, it’s an exciting, boundary transcending time for art in the North.

Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop


Autumn, half term and Halloween adventures are here. Here are our top tips for outdoor and indoor hot tickets to book and do now.

Destination Guides

Discover the BBC Philharmonic’s

2016/17 concert season


Things to do right now

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Salford Science Jam
Exhibitions 22 October 2016–23 October 2016, FREE

Salford Science Jam at MediaCity UK

mancehster gothic fesitval 2016 image by mmu
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–23 October 2016, from £10

Gothic Manchester Festival

Design City Film Season
Cinema 12 October 2016–23 October 2016, from £7.00

Design City Film Season

Literature - vivienne westwood cover shot
Literature 7 October 2016–23 October 2016, from £5

Manchester Literature Festival 2016

Festivals 19 October 2016–24 October 2016, from £3.00

Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival

Theatre 5 October 2016–29 October 2016, from £9.50

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Science Showdown
Families 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Science Festival free family events

HAND 01.1_1
Exhibitions 8 September 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

HAND CRAFT at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

The Chronarium.
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

The Chronarium Sleep Lab at Manchester Arndale

Theatre 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, from £2.00

Women in Comedy Festival

Members of Public Service Broadcasting in space
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Science Festival 2016

Image courtesy of Wild Rumpus
Families 22 October 2016–31 October 2016, from £16.00

The Enchantment of Chester Zoo