Unmissable things to do in Manchester and the North

Discover fantastic things to do in Manchester and the North – from cinema, concerts, art exhibitions and theatre to outdoor family events and sizzling spoken word.

Our top picks
Members of Public Service Broadcasting in space
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Science Festival 2016

Manchester Science Festival returns with its innovative combination of science, technology, music, art, literature, fashion, food and more. The programme for this, the festival’s tenth year, is bigger and better than ever, featuring the science of gin and gambling, a sleep lab in the Arndale, a Harry Potter-inspired tea and, of course, a very special birthday party.

LightPool Festival
Festivals 28 October 2016–2 November 2016, FREE

LightPool Festival 2016 in Blackpool

Taking place during Blackpool’s annual Illuminations display, the first ever LightPool Festival is a celebration of spectacular art works, which will appear in the town centre 28 October – 2 November.

Hair at Hope Mill
Theatre 12 November 2016–3 December 2016, from £18.00

Hair the musical at Hope Mill Theatre

Hair deals with difficult issues – drug use, sexual revolution and political protest – but is packed full of proper pop songs, and should be another singalong success for Hope Mill Theatre.

Families 24 October 2016, from £12.00

The Philosopher’s Scone: magic tricks at Harvey Nicks

Enter the world of Harry Potter and experience a family afternoon tea like with Roger Highfield, author of The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works followed by a screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Photograph of poet and scientist Rachel McCarthy holding a mug showing the periodic table of elements.
Literature 27 October 2016, from £5.00

Elements: Poetry in molecular motion

Award-winning poet and meteorologist Rachel McCarthy performs works from her Carol Ann Duffy-lauded debut collection, Element.

Idris Khan
Exhibitions 14 October 2016–19 March 2017, FREE

Idris Khan at the Whitworth

Idris Khan’s artworks are that rare thing: both visually and conceptually fascinating. A number of Khan’s seminal pieces will be on show at this new solo exhibition at the Whitworth, showcasing the artist’s preoccupation with representing time over duration within a single instance.

Image of David Gaffney copyright Kezia Tan.
Literature 11 October 2016–22 November 2016, from £30.00

Live From Worktown

The Live From Worktown festival takes over Bolton throughout October and November, encouraging creative writing and live literature with a programme of performances and workshops. Purveyor of fine flash fiction David Gaffney will be leading a course over four dates, looking at all things short story related.

Literature 4 November 2016, from £35.00

National Creative Writing Graduate Fair

Are you a creative writer with aspirations to be published? Come and pitch your ideas to literary agents; learn about the writing life through panels, workshops and networking opportunities, and hear a keynote speech from author Kit de Waal.

Taken with iPhone 6 (GSM+CDMA),iOS 9.1
Exhibitions 29 October 2016–26 February 2017, FREE

Perpetual Movement at The Lowry

A candle infused with 23 unique scents from space – including ‘burnt gunpowder’ for the moon and an ‘old penny’ for Mars – will be burnt at the finale of this major new exhibition at The Lowry. Part of a nationwide programme marking the Rambert dance company’s 90th anniversary, Perpetual Movement brings together work by international artists with objects, footage and costumes from the Rambert archives.

Ghosts at HOME
Theatre 18 November 2016–3 December 2016, from £10.00

Ghosts at HOME

Sex, scandal and syphilis – as you might well imagine, not everyone approved of this play when it was first performed in 1880, but Ibsens classic is just as powerful as it ever was.

Culture Guides

Victoria - Image courtesy of HOME


As always, October brings with it a surplus of scary films timed to coincide with Halloween.

Cape Farewell presents: Cloud Crash


The very best exhibitions in Manchester and the North include a collaboration with a renowned dance company, the return of Manchester Science Festival (bigger and better than ever), a showcase of exquisite craft at the Old Granada Studios, and much more. All in all, it’s an exciting, boundary transcending time for art in the North.

Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop


Autumn, half term and Halloween adventures are here. Here are our top tips for outdoor and indoor hot tickets to book and do now.

Image of David Gaffney copyright Kezia Tan.


With Rising Stars and World Literature, nothing says October in the Rainy City like Manchester Literature Festival. As we enter the final furlongs, there are still tickets available for some events, from creative non-fiction to a canalside special commission. And once MLF is over, Manchester Science Festival will be chemically enhancing words with poems about the periodic table.

Field Music


As the days get shorter, Manchester’s music calendar gets busier – with the city’s music…

Penny Arcade at Unity Theatre


You’ll be pleased to hear that this month’s theatre selections serve up a rich slice of everyone’s three favourite things: sex, swearing and scandal.

Destination Guides

Discover the BBC Philharmonic’s

2016/17 concert season


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