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
SparkPlug at HOME
Theatre 13–23 February 2019, from £12.50

SparkPlug at HOME

Inspired by autobiographical events, SparkPlug is a punchy and poetic monologue which explores family, race, identity and love.

Mother Courage and her Children at the Royal Exchange
Theatre 8 February–2 March 2019, from £10.00

Mother Courage and her Children at the Royal Exchange

A sharp new adaptation of Brecht’s classic – Mother Courage and her Children – written by Anna Jordan and headed up by Julie Hesmondhalgh in the title role.

Activity 23–24 February 2019, from £3

Manchester Vocal Weekend at The Stoller Hall

Over the final weekend of February, award winning baritone Marcus Farnsworth will lead the very first Manchester Vocal Weekend.

Craig Easton (Maizi, Runcorn). Sixteen photography exhibition, Manchester
Exhibitions 15 February–15 April 2019, FREE

Sixteen – around Manchester

Presented at venues across Manchester, ‘Sixteen’ is a nationwide photographic project that gives voice to the next generation of young people across Great Britain, who will live in a politically reshaped country divorced from the European Union.

Music 23 February 2019, from £12.5

Schumann | Robin Holloway | Valentin Silvestrov at The Bridgewater Hall

The BBC Philharmonic celebrates Robin Holloway’s 75th birthday with a brand new work by the treasured English composer, given its world premiere by guest soloist Håkan Hardenberger. Also tonight, a rare performance of Valentin Silvestrov’s transcendent Fifth Symphony, one of the best-kept secrets in contemporary music.

Chinternet Ugly at Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art
Exhibitions 8 February–12 May 2019, FREE

Chinternet Ugly at Centre for ChineseContemporary Art

CFCCA presents Chinternet Ugly – a group exhibition that offers a rare glimpse behind the biggest digital boundary in the world: the Great Firewall of China.

Music 23 February 2019, from £17.50

Actress at Gorilla

For the second night in the Marcus Intalex Music Foundation’s WK:END series, the inimitable Actress will play at Gorilla, alongside Martyn and dBridge.

Simeon Barclay: Life Room
Exhibitions 8 February–29 March 2019, FREE

Simeon Barclay: Life Room at The Holden Gallery

The Holden Gallery presents ‘Simeon Barclay: Life Room’, featuring new work by an artist from Huddersfield who discovered glamour, theatricality and a sense of aspiration between the pages of ‘Vogue’, and a love for industrial fabricating techniques during 16 years spent on the factory floor.

Cinema 7–28 February 2019, FREE

Bigger Than Life/ Four Films by Stephen Cone at Number 70, Oxford Street

Bigger Than Life and Research in Arts and Humanities at Manchester Met present the first UK retrospective of the films of American independent film director Stephen Cone, at No. 70, Oxford Road this February.

Red detail for The Blanket by David Murphy at The Piece Hall
Exhibitions 25 January–7 April 2019, FREE

The Blanket by David Murphy at The Piece Hall

The Piece Hall in Halifax prepares to unveil ‘The Blanket’ – a new large-scale outdoor artwork by British sculptor David Murphy – which will occupy the centre of the former textile hall’s sweeping Georgian courtyard.

Kannan Arunasalam: The Tent at The Tetley
Exhibitions 16 February–2 June 2019, FREE

Kannan Arunasalam: The Tent at The Tetley

‘Kannan Arunasalam: The Tent’ at The Tetley explores the lasting impact of the civil war that raged in Sri Lanka for over 25 years, claiming the lives of an estimated 80,000-100,000 people and leading to the forced disappearance of more than 20,000 Tamils.

Music 7 April 2019, from £30.60

James Blake at Victoria Warehouse

Following his acclaimed new album ‘Assume Form’, James Blake’s gig at Victoria Warehouse will be one of the most exciting of the spring season.

Wise Children at HOME
Theatre 26 February–2 March 2019, from £10.00

Wise Children at HOME

Acclaimed director Emma Rice will bring her adaptation of Angela Carter’s Wise Children to HOME this February.

'William Stott of Oldham: Great Painters are Rare' Exhibition at Gallery Oldham
Exhibitions 26 January–11 May 2019, FREE

‘William Stott of Oldham: Great Painters are Rare’ at Gallery Oldham

Exactly 120 years after his death, the work of the world-renowned William Stott of Oldham returns to his hometown as part of an exhibition dedicated to his legacy.

Storyhouse Women at Chester Storyhouse
Literature 26–28 April 2019, from £10

Storyhouse Women at Chester Storyhouse

International activist, author and actor Rose McGowan is headlining the second Storyhouse Women Weekend festival taking place at the city arts venue 26 to 28 April, discussing her bestselling memoir/manifesto Brave.

Culture Guides

Kimsooja, To Breathe. Photo © Jaeho Chong

Exhibitions

Inspired by the meditative qualities of space and eastern notions of the Void, Kimsooja’s mesmerising installation at YSP’s historic chapel heads our top pick of exhibitions this month.

Big Up! Courtesy Theatre Rites / Helen Murray

Families

See Mer-folk in a Human Aquarium, experience Trouble at t’Mill and the world of nocturnal animals after dark. Then break all the rules in new show Big Up!

Writer Nicole Flattery.

Literature

Those darling buds are coming back to life in live literature land as 2019 gets properly underway, and we’ve plenty to look forward to – from performance poetry and soundscapes to readings from magazines, memoirs and award-winning short stories.

Music

We have some hotly anticipated gigs coming up in Manchester and the north over the next few months! Read about them here!

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

A Salford leisure centre, a city centre library and a Manchester museum – theatre can happen anywhere. Here’s our guide to the best performances popping up across Manchester and the North.

Cinema

Valentine’s ideas, hard-to-see queer cinema and the best in new releases — we’ve got it covered.

Tours and Activities

In this month’s roundup of best Tours and Activities in Manchester and the North, we highlight the pottery and craft workshops giving you some cathartic and creative opportunities to get making.

Things to do right now

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Families 19–20 February 2019, from £3

The Blanket Tales at The Piece Hall

Cinema 1–21 February 2019, from £5.50

Burning at HOME

Families 18–22 February 2019, from £Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Trouble at t’Mill at Quarry Bank

Cinema 8–22 February 2019, from £5.50

If Beale Street Could Talk at HOME

SparkPlug at HOME
Theatre 13–23 February 2019, from £12.50

SparkPlug at HOME

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

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

William Roberts RA, Combat, 1966. Image courtesy of Art UK
Exhibitions 30 June 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

The Royal Academy Takeover: The Exhibition

PERSPECTIVES – Venture Arts
Exhibitions 1 October 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

PERSPECTIVES – around Manchester