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
Festivals 18–20 July 2019, from £16.5


More than 80 international artists, musicians, policy makers, politicians and tech pioneers discuss the future of entertainment as part of Distractions. Andy Burnham talks to us about the future of entertainment in Greater Manchester.

Exhibitions 29 June–29 September 2019, FREE

Expect the Unexpected: A Chance Exhibition at the Lowry

A new exhibition at the Lowry is a reminder to re-connect with the beauty and joy chance poses. To celebrate the unexpected, as well as to expect it.

Yemen: Inside a Crisis at Imperial War Museum North
Exhibitions 17 May 2019–26 January 2020, FREE

Yemen: Inside a Crisis at Imperial War Museum North

Curated with support from award-winning journalist Iona Craig, Yemen: Inside a Crisis at Imperial War Museum North offers a powerful look at one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Cinema 18 July–13 August 2019, from £9.50

Sound and Vision: Pop Stars on Film at HOME

From the relatively early days of cinema, figures from the world of popular music have been cast in acting roles. HOME’s new season is a greatest hits selection.

Lovell telescope in cloudy sky
Music 19–21 July 2019, from £59.75

Bluedot 2019 at Jodrell Bank

Entering its fourth year in 2019, bluedot celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings with a special weekend of music, science, arts, technology, culture, food and film beneath the iconic Lovell Telescope.

Refract:19 at Waterside
Festivals 18–27 July 2019,

REFRACT:19 at Waterside Arts

Back with an even bigger bang – Trafford’s flagship arts festival returns to Waterside for ten-days of experiential performance and cultural delight.

MIF19 Studio ORKA Tuesday Manchester International Festival 2019
Families 10–21 July 2019, FREE

MIF19: Tuesday at Saint Augustine’s Church

A family-friendly odyssey on the uniqueness of human experience by Belgium theatre royalty Studio ORKA

Ibrahim Mahama Photo © White Cube George Darrell. Courtesy of Manchester International Festival
Exhibitions 5–21 July 2019, FREE

MIF19: Ibrahim Mahama at the Whitworth

Considered one of the most ‘internationally visible’ artists working out of Africa today, for MIF 2019 Ibrahim Mahama presents an assemblage of lost objects that reflect upon the history of his home country’s long struggle for independence.

Exhibitions 7 June–18 August 2019,

Peterloo 2019

Manchester Histories prepares to launch a major programme of over 150 events to commemorate the 200-year anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. All of the essential Peterloo events in one place.

Music 5–21 July 2019, from £12

Buxton International Festival 2019

With a jam-packed programme of quality cultural events set in a stunning location, Buxton International Festival 2019 looks set to be the best yet.

Literature 27 July 2019, from £6

FaxFiction at Waterside

In this special commission as part of Refract festival, FaxFiction sees six writers perform six brand-new specially commissioned short stories incorporating old technologies, from Dictaphones to floppy discs.

Unearthing passion and protest at Manchester Central Library
Activity 6 July–29 September 2019, FREE

Unearthing Passion and Protest Exhibition at Manchester Central Library

Join Grace Surman and Gary Winters alongside their two young children Hope and Merrick at Central Library as they explore the themes of their newly commissioned films based at Dunham Massey and Quarry Bank.

Amélie The Musical at Manchester Opera House
Theatre 6–10 August 2019, from £13.00

Amélie The Musical at Manchester Opera House

Enchanting, witty and gorgeous, boasting huge public and critical acclaim, the story of Amélie translates beautifully for the stage.

Power Up at the Science and Industry Museum
Families 20 July–1 September 2019, from £7.00

Power UP at the Science and Industry Museum

Stretch those competitive muscles and explore 40 years of video game challenges and design from Pacman to the latest in virtual reality.

Cinema 6 May–3 December 2019, from £5

Now Showing Club at Old Bank Residency, Manchester

Now Showing Club is Manchester’s first dedicated documentary cinema and will be showcasing 50 films from Dogwoof’s back catalogue in 2019.

Culture Guides

BSL Led Gallery Tour: David Lynch My Head is Disconnected


It’s all about David Lynch this month, as the cult artist and filmmaker brings his inimitable brand of surreal menace to Manchester as part of MIF19.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the north


Like the 58th Venice Biennale which opened earlier this May, our latest pick of exhibitions across the north also has a strong ecological bent.

Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade


We can smell the summer and have sniffed out the best family things to do in Manchester and across the North.


We’re in full festival swing with both Manchester International Festival and Refract festival’s first focus on live literature, the welcome return of some old favourites, and plenty of poetry and prose.


Some of the world’s most exciting producers are heading to Manchester and the north in the coming months. Read about them here.

Theatre in Manchester


You’ll find award-winning adaptations, experimental pieces and outstanding open-air performance in our theatre guide this month.

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

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

tours and activities

Tours and Activities

Challenge yourself to try something different this summer with our guide of Manchester based tours and activities. You’re bound to find something new to do in the city.