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
Theatre 20 September–20 December 2017,

Contact Autumn Season 2017

Contact’s new season builds on its position as one of Manchester’s most innovative and experimental theatre centres.

Festivals 22 September 2017–31 March 2018,

HOME Autumn/Winter Season

From revolutionary inspired art to ‘sassy’ Hip Hop Christmas cabaret, check out our guide to HOME’s Autumn/Winter Season.

Festivals 1 August–2 September 2017, FREE

Welcome – The Piece Hall’s reopening season

The Piece Hall is back with a bang. Three weekends of world-class live music, outdoor theatre and arts spectaculars celebrate the restoration and redevelopment of this historic building into an exciting new cultural and social destination.

Festivals 21–30 July 2017,

Refract:17 at Waterside Arts Centre

A festival of light, one that covers the whole spectrum of performance from comedy to kids shows.

Exhibitions 10 June–24 September 2017, FREE

Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 – Unseen photographs by Clive Arrowsmith at The Lowry

What can we tell of a man from his kitchen sink or old-fashioned cooker? A great deal it would seem judging by a new exhibition of rare, previously unseen photographs at The Lowry…

Exhibitions 23 June 2017–1 January 2018, from £4.00

Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War at IWM North

IWM North turns its attention to one of the most controversial figures in British art.

Music 9 September 2017–31 May 2018, from £15.00

Manchester Camerata 2017/18 Season

Featuring Snoop Dogg’s producer, a live video artist, plus a gospel choir and re-interpretations of Muse and Metallica, the 2017/18 season by ‘probably Britain’s most adventurous orchestra’ is as diverse and inspiring as ever. Discover our highlights and picks for the weeks and months ahead.

Festivals 6 August 2017, FREE

Make My Day! on Morecambe Promenade

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside … this free artist-led festival of making, performance and inspiring creativity is a tip top day out on the coast.

Families 28–29 July 2017, from £14

Welcome to The Lost Carnival at Dunham Massey

Have a go on a trapeze, walk a tightrope, witness living toybox dolls and absorb yourself in 1920s ragtime for two special evening events celebrating The Lost Carnival’s arrival at Dunham this summer.

Festivals 22–23 July 2017, FREE

Manchester Mega Mela at Platt Fields Park

Get ready for some top performers, incredible food and arts and crafts galore in the largest South Asian festival of its kind in the north.

Exhibitions 17 June–16 September 2017, FREE

Liverpool(e): Mover, Shaker, Architectural Risk-Taker

Liverpool is a city that can be read like no other as a living, breathing encyclopedia of British architecture. But how has its unique skyline been shaped, and how else might it have looked? These are the intriguing questions asked by RIBA North’s inaugural exhibition.

Music 28 July–6 August 2017, from £5.00

Manchester Jazz Festival 2017

Manchester’s longest running music festival returns in 2017 with live music every day at its Salon Perdu base in Albert Square, as well as concerts, talks and screenings in venues across the city centre. Highlights this year include The Breath, Riot Jazz, Joshua Redman Quartet and Phronesis and Engines Orchestra.

Music 4 August 2017, from £25.00

Joshua Redman: Still Dreaming at the RNCM

American jazz saxophonist and composer Joshua Redman is joined by three of the most imaginative voices in contemporary jazz to interpret music by Ornette Coleman’s band, Old and New Dreams.

Festivals 21–23 July 2017, from £20.00

Underneath The Stars Festival 2017

This charismatic folk and acoustic music festival in the stunning South Yorkshire countryside has a cracking family friendly arts programme and tremendous food.

Cinema 14 July–12 August 2017, from £15.00

Picnic Cinema, Cumbria

Picnics, dancing, shenanigans, capers, discos, tomfoolery and great, classic, cult and horror films in extraordinary locations. This year’s selection of films includes Pulp Fiction, The Wicker Man and Boogie Nights.

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.


It’s all about the best festival experiences for families this month with highlight events at MIF and our full guides to the best summer festivals to pack up the boot full of wellies for.

Poet Jackie Kay.


Poetry and prose, words meeting art, words meeting comedy, words meeting music, and a little preview of this year’s Manchester Literature Festival, coming up in October…


As we enter festival season, the likes of bluedot, Cloudspotting and Manchester International Festival offer the chance to see some of the biggest artists on the planet in our own backyards…


The new season brochures are out, which means lots to look forward to on the theatre front – including plenty of cabaret acts and a Chekhov classic.


It seems that much of the north has decided to bring the cinema outside for the summer. We round up the best indoor and outdoor films screening near you.


Our top picks this month provide a fresh look at some of the key figures and events of the 20th century, revealing hidden pasts and alternative presents.

Destination Guides

Things to do right now

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