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
A billboard and people sitting on the pavement
Music 30 April–1 May 2017, from £23 adv.

Sounds From The Other City 2017 in Salford

Salford’s Sounds from the Other City festival showcases the best of new and avant-garde music, arts and performance.

Liz West performing on a train platform
Exhibitions 18 May 2017, FREE

Manchester After Hours 2017

Manchester After Hours is back on 18 May: Manchester’s take on the national Museums at Night festival of lates brings unusual collaborations and stand-out events to venues across the city. Here’s our guide.

Festivals 25 May–16 June 2017,

Liverpool presents Sgt Pepper at 50

It was 50 years ago this year that Sgt Pepper taught the band to play. And now, Liverpool is presenting a series of events to celebrate this landmark occasion – from mass-participation free music events to dance exclusives, plus exhibitions, brass bands and more.

Music 28–31 July 2017, from £30.00

Cloudspotting Festival 2017 at Gisburn Forest

Now in its seventh year, Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival is a long summer weekend retreat for a few hundred people, organised by a bunch of friends and festival enthusiasts. This year’s event features headliners Moulettes, Baloji and Jesca Hoop, as well as a host of family theatre, interactive art, music workshops and plenty more besides.

Music 18 May 2017, FREE

MAH17: Thursday Lates NTS Takeover at the Whitworth

Cult online radio station NTS Radio brings DJs and visual artists to the Whitworth for a night of left-field music and off-kilter video projections as part of Manchester After Hours 2017.

Music 18 May 2017, FREE

MAH17: Now you see me, now you don’t at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry and the Engine House Collective team up to explore ideas of surveillance through projections and audio installations on and around the huge Avro Shackleton in the museum’s Air and Space Hall for Manchester After Hours.

Leeds Indie Food Festival 2017
Festivals 11–28 May 2017, from £0.00

Leeds Indie Food Festival 2017

The Leeds Indie Food festival is back for a third mouthwatering edition, celebrating the best of the city’s thriving independent food and drink scene.

Music 25 May 2017, from £45.00

The Human League at Liverpool Sound City 2017

Sheffield’s legendary synthpop group The Human League celebrate their 40th year by headlining the opening night of Liverpool Sound City 2017 – which is itself marking its 10th outing. With seminal electronic band Art of Noise and former Factory Records group A Certain Ratio joining them, Clarence Dock hosts this extra special opening show.

Families 18–20 August 2017, from £20.00

Just So Festival 2017 at Rode Hall, Cheshire

The best family festival in the UK? We think so. Adventure together into a wonderland of the best outdoor theatre, music, comedy, literature and other curious creative escapades. With midnight feasts, pillow fights and the bonkers Tribal Tournament be sure to snap up a ticket fast.

Lovell telescope in cloudy sky
Music 7–9 July 2017, from £129.00

bluedot 2017 at Jodrell Bank

Bluedot is a brand new festival of discovery located in the shadow of the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics; the iconic space observatory and the heart of our quest for knowledge.

Families 21 May 2017, from £10.00

Art On The Run at LIVIA Forest

A ridiculous run around the forest produced by Wild Rumpus (Just So Festival) and the Forestry Commission – take in large scale art installations, live music and more.

Theatre 4–6 June 2017, from £30

Jane Eyre at Haddon Hall

The wonderful words of Charlotte Brontë and a lovely walk around the Haddon Hall estate make for a great day out in this promenade adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Paddy Hartley's artwork from the EDIT 01 exhibition at The Lowry
Exhibitions 1 April–14 May 2017, FREE

EDIT 01: Paddy Hartley at The Lowry

Head to The Lowry to meet the artist who designed wearable sculptures for Lady Gaga, and find out why he’s installed a huge clay trench in the upstairs gallery space.

Author Paula Hawkins © Alisa Connan.
Literature 3 May 2017, from £7.00

An evening with Paula Hawkins at Oh Me Oh My, Liverpool

The Girl On The Train author Paula Hawkins reads from her latest novel and chats to Simon Savidge about her meteoric rise to getting on the bestsellers’ list. Support reading from Sarah Schmidt.

Families 10–11 June 2017, FREE

Rita Riot / Rita Dreaming / Rita Requiem at Hope Street, The Oratory and Liverpool Cathedrals

Change the way you feel about traffic wardens forever. Join over 300 brass musicans and parking attendants kicking off a weekend of riotous street performance and events by international performer Meow Meow. Experience the song Lovely Rita through new eyes as part of Liverpool’s Sgt Pepper at 50 celebrations.

Culture Guides

Food and Drink

Discover the best food and drink that the North has to offer in our expert guide to food and drink in Manchester and beyond.


This month, we round up some of the disreputable treasures and genuinely ambitious pieces of film art that are screening around Manchester and the North.


The newly announced Manchester After Hours programme gets the top spot in our Exhibitions guide this month, hotly followed by another major arts announcement.


Theatrical adventures reflecting on our world, sleep walks, a ridiculous art race through the forest, and our brand new guide to this year’s Just So Festival.

Hot Shorts at David Gaffney book launch.


Spring is well and truly in the air, and there are plenty of prose and poetry events blossoming this month across the North West, and the chance for budding writers to scribe some site-specific stories.


Why not try some new music in 2017? Whether it’s a residency in a former mill, an original take on a film soundtrack or award-winning classical music in a new concert hall, our picks have it covered.


This month’s theatre guide is full of fresh starts and exciting new relationships, with just a twist of darkness mixed in for good measure.

Destination Guides

Discover the BBC Philharmonic’s
2016/17 concert season