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.

We are so grateful to National Lottery players, The National Lottery, DCMS and Arts Council England for supporting our freelance writers during this crisis.

Mindscapes: Soundpaths
Festivals Until 16 May 2021, FREE


Created by SICK! Festival, MINDSCAPES is a collection of five inspirational brand-new artworks and online events happening in Manchester for free this spring.

Music Until 30 April 2021,

Band on the Wall: Live-ish from fivefourstudios

This April, Band on the Wall are broadcasting full sets by emerging artists from Manchester, recorded at fivefourstudios, Salford.

Literature 6 May 2021 7:00 pm, FREE

Suzannah V Evans online book launch with Eleanor Rees

Liverpool-based poet Eleanor Rees will be reading at the online launch of Suzannah V Evans’s new pamphlet Brightwork, out with Guillemot Press.

Open Air Theatre in Manchester and the North
Theatre 18 May–12 August 2021,

Open Air Theatre in Manchester and the North

Open air theatre shows are happening across the north over the next few months – we’ve collated our top picks into a neat guide for you.

Literature 1–31 May 2021,

WoWFEST 2021

WoWFEST, Liverpool’s longest-running writing and literary festival, is back for 2021, running throughout May with a packed programme of online events, some free.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North
Exhibitions 27 May–11 July 2021, Tickets not yet on sale

Abandon Normal Devices Festival 2021

Abandon Normal Devices Festival, the UK’s only roaming digital festival, resurfaces in 2021 with a new hybrid format, exploring the post-industrial landscapes of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey.

Author Jarred McGinnis
Literature Until 26 April 2021, from £3

Novel Voices online with Ellah Wakatama

Novel Voices is a five-part online series featuring Canongate Editor-at-Large Ellah Wakatama in conversation with 10 debut authors who are helping to shape 2021’s literary landscape.

Queer Contact 2021
Festivals 29 April–1 May 2021,

Queer Contact Festival 2021

Bringing an online celebration of art and creativity in the LGBTQ+ community, we’re thrilled that Queer Contact Festival will return for 2021.

Queer Contact 2021: Russell T Davies in conversation with Nathaniel Hall
Theatre 30 April 2021 7:30 pm, from £5.00

Queer Contact 2021: Russell T Davies in conversation with Nathaniel Hall

In this first event for Queer Contact 2021, screenwriting legend Russell T Davies will join award-winning theatre-maker Nathaniel Hall to discuss depictions of HIV and AIDS on stage and screen.

Poet Dean Atta. Photo by Hussina Raja.
Festivals 1 May 2021 1:00 pm, from £3.75

Dean Atta online at Queer Contact 2021

Hear Dean Atta discuss his works and read some excerpts from his award-winning novel The Black Flamingo in this Queer Contact live online event.

Mr Stink Heartbreak Productions
Families 13 June 2021 1:30 pm, from £11

Mr Stink

Spend an afternoon in Sale’s ‘secret’ Walkden Gardens with your little ones and enjoy Heartbreak Productions adaptation of the heart-warming storybook Mr Stink.

Families 28–30 August 2021, from £24.95

5 on the Farm Festival

Billed as the ‘perfect British day out and dog-friendly weekend’ the three-day 5 On The Farm Festival combines all of the best family friendly activities into one fabulous unmissable event.

The Great Gatsby at Waterside
Theatre 20 June 2021 6:00 pm, from £13

The Great Gatsby at Walkden Gardens

Open-air theatre aficionados Heartbreak Productions bring a live performance of The Great Gatsby to Walkden Gardens in Sale this summer.

Whodunnit at the Coliseum?
Theatre Until 25 April 2021, from £12.00

Whodunnit at the Coliseum?

Can you figure out whodunnit? Take part in this interactive online murder mystery at Oldham Coliseum.

Totally Roarsome, Mottram Hall
Families Until 6 June 2021, from £7.95

Totally Roarsome

Head over to Mottram Hall where, in the depths of stunning Cheshire woodland, you’ll discover an immersive walking trail. Totally Roarsome promises to excite your little ones with huge figures of animals – from the Jurassic to the mythical.

Culture Guides

Cinema in Manchester and the North

We look at online festivals, new streaming releases and some newly announced outdoor cinema screenings.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North


A floating festival, an LSD-inspired journey across space and time, an exhibition curated by GCHQ – there’s plenty to look forward to this month.

Family Things to do in Manchester


Need some inspiration for online activities and creative family fun? Look no further than our top picks online for families across Manchester and the North.

Writer Dean Atta (credit 2015 Hussina Raja).


We may be living in the online world for live literature still, but there’s plenty to fill your diary with this April thanks to a whole host of virtual festival events, digital book launches, small screen spoken word showcases and socially distanced reading series… 


We look ahead to the return of physical gigs, selecting a handful of live shows in May and June, as well as some online concerts to tide us over.

Theatre in Manchester and the North


You’ll find all the best live-streamed shows, online festivals and live outdoor performance in our theatre guide this month.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Dapur Malaysia

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

It’s the March edition of the Food and Drink Guide to Manchester and the North and things are slowly starting to feel more promising. Spring is here, the weather is mostly warming up and in just a few weeks we’ll be allowed to eat and drink outside at venues with outside space.

Queer Contact 2021

Online events

Discover the best things to do online from the organisations we love in Manchester and the North.

women and girls night

Tours and Activities

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter and the first flowers of spring have truly sprung. We’re welcoming in the new season with a guide of Tours and Activities that will inspire you to make, learn and move.