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
Music 13 December 2018, from £15.50

The Hallé – Finlandia at The Bridgewater Hall

Perfect for winter, Finlandia will celebrate the two towering figures of Scandinavian classical music – Sibelius and Grieg.

Doctor Dolittle the Musical Tour
Families 11 December 2018–5 January 2019, from £16.50

Doctor Dolittle at The Lowry

Get your tickets quick to have your eyes opened by a whole other (animal) world this festive season. Mark Williams (The Fast Show) stars in the title role of this major new musical adaptation.

Cinema 15–16 December 2018, from £17.50

The Hallé – The Snowman at The Bridgewater Hall

Performing Howard Blake’s wonderful score, the Hallé will provide a live accompaniment for a screening of Raymond Briggs’ animated classic, The Snowman.

Fernand Léger: New Times, New Pleasures at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions 23 November 2018–17 March 2019, from £10.50

Fernand Léger: New Times, New Pleasures at Tate Liverpool

Tate Liverpool presents the first major UK exhibition in 30 years of renowned modern artist Fernand Léger’s work, exploring how the iconic French painter, sculptor and filmmaker redefined the value of art to 20th century society.

Poet Nia Davies at No Matter #4.
Literature 12 December 2018, FREE

No Matter #4 at The Castle

No Matter #4 welcomes poets Emma Bolland, #Interrupteur artist-writer in residence at the University of Sheffield, Poetry Wales editor Nia Davies and Rebecca Tamás, whose new collection will be published by Penned in the Margins in 2019. Bring your change purse – there will be book and pamphlet buying opportunities.

Winter Droving Penrith
Families 26 October 2019, FREE

The Winter Droving in Penrith

An incredible wonderland of outdoor arts, masquerade and pint carrying competitions in Penrith.

Families 11–23 December 2018, from £7.00 - 13.00

Contact and Jackie Hagan: The Forest of Forgotten Discos! at Hope Mill Theatre

This festive season, join CONTACT and Jackie Hagan for a new and exciting show for children aged 5+ (and the older ones who look after them!)

Music 7–15 December 2018, from £21

RNCM Opera: Suor Angelica / Gianni Schicchi at RNCM

Featuring some of Puccini’s most famous arias, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi are beautifully linked by a common thread – a tragic opera about death, followed by a witty farce that explores the same theme.

Families 6–15 December 2018, from £6

Black Beauty at Z-arts

Get your Christmas off to a galloping start in this award-winning family adventure of friendship, courage, hope and heroes.

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry
Exhibitions 10 November 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry in Salford provides an unexpected insight into the artistic imagination of one of the UK’s most popular artists.

Släpstick at HOME
Families 13–22 December 2018, from £10.00

Släpstick at HOME

Five world-class musicians who have mastered over 100 instruments between them bring Släpstick to HOME – a dazzling blend of warm nostalgia, virtuosic musicianship and physical comedy.

Roee Rosen, The Dust Channel (film still), 2016. The Ground Beneath Your Feet at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
Exhibitions 16 November 2018–3 February 2019, FREE

The Ground Beneath Your Feet at Castlefield Gallery

Castlefield Gallery’s latest exhibition, The Ground Beneath Your Feet, invites a more nuanced conversation around multiple geopolitical issues that currently dominate our headlines.

Music 18 December 2018, from £15.50

The Mouse Outfit Christmas Special at Band on the Wall

Manchester stalwarts and hip-hop kings The Mouse Outfit are returning home with their inimitable and unmissable live show at Band on the Wall.

Families 1 December 2018–6 January 2019, from £14

Stick Man at The Lowry

This much- loved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler tale of misadventure is brought to life for small people and their grown ups this festive season by Scamp Theatre.

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals 7–16 December 2018, FREE

Lightwaves 2018 at The Quays

An unmissable ten days of luminary adventures. Interact with boundary-breaking new commissions, create your own digital masterpieces and take a selfie with a Dalek. Yep, really.

Culture Guides


It’s almost that most wonderful time of the year and there’s all kinds of festive programming and counter-programming in the cinemas of Manchester and the North.

Ren Hang: Wake Up Together at Open Eye Gallery


Tubism, pottery, same-sex intimacy and art education; this month’s Exhibitions Guide has it all. (Even a tentative mention of Christmas.)


Luminous adventures, festive fixes, Drag Queen Storytime and New Year’s Eve parties with nippers to book now for … look no further for the best things to do with kids.

Poet Nia Davies at No Matter #4.


December sees some great events lined up for those readers who have been good this year – read on to find out about the live literature gifts we have wrapped up for you, and find out where to buy some Christmas presents of your own…


This month’s music guide features some of the most exciting underground artists from around the world, as well as homegrown Manchester talent.

Theatre in Manchester and the North


Contemporary circus, slapstick comedy, burlesque and immersive dining. Our theatre guide spans the festive season and beyond.

Tours and Activities

This month we are highlighting some of the top multilingual tours and activities Manchester has to offer.