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
©Viviane Sassen, Ra, series Mud and Lotus 2017. Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa. Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror at The Hepworth Wakefield
Exhibitions 22 June–7 October 2018, FREE

Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror at The Hepworth Wakefield

OPENS THIS WEEK. Renowned fashion photographer and contemporary visual artist, Viviane Sassen’s upcoming exhibition Hot Mirror at the Hepworth promises to be one of the absolute highlights of this year’s cultural calendar.

Music 28 June 2018, from £15

RNCM Big Band with Bart van Lier at the RNCM Theatre

The RNCM’s Big Band collaborates and performs with legendary jazz improviser Bart van Lier, principal trombonist with the Metropole Orkest, for its major summer concert. As well as work by van Lier, the programme features pieces by Bill Holman, Jerome Kern and Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz.

The Big I Am in rehearsal courtesy Brian Roberts
Theatre 16 June–14 July 2018, from £10.00

The Big I Am at Liverpool Everyman

A world premiere re-imagining of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, relocated to 20th Century Liverpool by writer Robert Farquhar

‘Fruit and Lobster’. A Dutch Golden Age: Painters, Places and People in the 17th Century at Cannon Hall Museum
Exhibitions 16 June–16 September 2018, FREE

A Dutch Golden Age: Painters, Places and People in the 17th Century at Cannon Hall Museum Park & Gardens

Capturing a unique period of intense creativity that fundamentally shaped the course of western art history, it’s fair to say that we’re more than a tad excited for the opening of ‘A Dutch Golden Age: Painters, Places and People in the 17th Century’ at Cannon Hall in Barnsley.

Helen Mort. Photo by Jonathan Pow
Literature 1 June–31 October 2018, FREE

Northern Poetry Train

Manchester Literature Festival and Northern commissioned poet Helen Mort to write about the journey from Manchester to Hebden Bridge. Courtesy MLF and Northern, you can explore the Calder Valley’s rich literary heritage with a special trail and map.

Where We Are at HOME Manchester
Theatre 27–28 June 2018, from £15.00

Where We Are at HOME

HOME welcomes you to a double-bill performance from two of Manchester’s most exciting theatre companies, exploring our city and its people.

Cinema 15–28 June 2018, from £5.50

The Ciambra at HOME

The Ciambra is set amidst a small Romani community in Calabria. Pio Amato is desperate to grow up. At 14, he drinks, smokes and is one of the few to easily slide between the region’s factions.

Author Holly Ringland.
Literature 5 July 2018, from £5.00

That’s What She Said at Tribeca

It’s the last That’s What She Said before a summer break, and this month the For Books’ Sake gang welcome authors Holly Ringland and Rosie Garland to their all-female line-up.

Contact In The City Part Two
Theatre 15 August–23 December 2018,

Contact In The City Part Two

Contact announces In The City Part Two – its radical city-wide programme of performance during the buildings exciting transformation.

Music 6 July 2018, from £20

Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra: The Planets at The Bridgewater Hall

Relocating to the Bridgewater Hall for this season-opening concert, Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra tackles Holst’s crowd-pleasing imagining of the sounds of the universe. The programme also includes Elgar’s The Music Makers – a fitting ode to the importance of art in society – featuring the school’s combined choruses.

Mister Finch – Toadstool Postboxes, 2017. Courtesy the artist. The Wish Post at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Exhibitions 23 June–23 September 2018, FREE

Mister Finch: The Wish Post at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Don’t worry, you haven’t OD’ed on contemporary art. The dapperly dressed mole and skittish prickle of hedgehogs playing brass bells are part of YSP’s new exhibition; The Wishing Post by Etsy-celeb, Mister Finch.

Everything that happened that would happen at Mayfield
Theatre 10–21 October 2018, from £25.00

Everything that happened and would happen at Mayfield

Heiner Goebbels new large-scale work, presented with Manchester International Festival, will receive its world premiere in Manchester this autumn.

albert finney: son of salford
Cinema 3–27 June 2018, from £5.50

Albert Finney: Son of Salford at HOME

Salford-born Albert Finney is widely regarded as one of Britain’s great actors. To celebrate his work on screen, HOME opens a season of films featuring some of his iconic roles and lesser-known works.

Jessie Roberts. Materialise: A Showcase of Five Young Makers at Manchester Craft & Design Centre
Exhibitions 24 May–1 September 2018, FREE

Materialise: A Showcase of Five Young Makers at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Catch a glimpse of the creative face of tomorrow with the work of five up-and-coming young makers, currently on show at Manchester Craft & Design Centre as part of Materialise.

REFRACT 18 at Waterside Arts
Festivals 19–28 July 2018,

REFRACT:18 at Waterside Arts

Curated by Waterside Arts, Refract:18 is a unique ten-day festival of experiential performance, comedy, live music and family events that challenge you to see things differently.

Culture Guides

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North


Proto-feminism, the secret lives of birds, and the darkly satirical images of one of Britain’s leading political artists – we look forward to some of the top exhibition highlights coming up this month.



Who says summer is a quiet time for theatre? We’ve got open-air performances, free interactive family events, a ten-day summer festival and much more in our theatre guide.

Manchester Day


It’s family festival fever. The National Trust Children’s Book Festival, University of Manchester Community Festival, Manchester Histories Festival and that’s just for starters.

Author Holly Ringland.


Despite the traditional summer break, there’s still plenty of poetry and prose to catch, book and magazine launches, birthday parties, and even an exhibition dedicated to libraries. And if you don’t like sitting still for too long, there’s even a literature trail or two to check out…


While this summer’s festivals – including bluedot, The Good Life Experience and Festival No. 6 – provide a welcome distraction, the likes of the RNCM and The Stoller Hall continue to provide adventurous programming.


Salford-born actor, Albert Finney is celebrated with a career retrospective at HOME, whilst director Stanley Kubrick gets the same treatment at FACT. Elsewhere there are one off screenings of classics, both new and old.