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
Happy Days at the Royal Exchange
Theatre 25 May–23 June 2018, from £17.00

Happy Days at the Royal Exchange

Following the success of Hamlet, The Skriker and A Streetcar Named Desire, Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake continue their creative collaboration with a revival of Beckett’s surrealist masterpiece, Happy Days.

Father John Misty and Friends at The Piece Hall
Festivals 26 May 2018, from £37.50

Father John Misty and Friends at The Piece Hall

Featuring a UK-exclusive headline set by Grammy winner Father John Misty, this day-long event in the courtyard of Halifax’s Grade I-listed Piece Hall boasts strength in depth thanks to the involvement of Edwyn Collins, Hookworms and The Orielles.

Othello at Liverpool Everyman
Theatre 28 April–10 July 2018, from £10-32

Othello at Liverpool Everyman

Othello is a distinguished military leader. She commands respect. But not everyone is ready for a leader quite like this one.

Music 31 May 2018, from £22

Vivaldi Rocks at The Stoller Hall

Hugo Ticciati combines Vivaldi Concertos with arrangements of music by Muse, Metallica and Dream Theatre – demonstrating that the Baroque composer’s work was just as raucous during his lifetime as anything today’s rock stars can offer.

Louis Henderson: Overtures, ¡Viva! at HOME, Manchester
Exhibitions 21 April–10 June 2018, FREE

Louis Henderson: Overtures at HOME

Award-winning artist Louis Henderson presents a new film co-commission and solo exhibition at HOME, which responds to the endlessly complex trails of Haitian history.

The Good Life Experience
Families 14–16 September 2018, from £49

The Good Life Experience 2018 at Hawarden Estate

Exclusive 10% discount for Creative Tourist readers. Co-founded by Cerys Matthews, The Good Life Experience returns for its fifth outing, in the shadows of two castles on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire. The festival features music from the likes of Gwenno, Bill Ryder-Jones and Norman Jay, as well as campfire cooking, spoken word, a 1930s fairground and dozens of activities for all ages.

Dance 25–26 May 2018, from £10

RNCM Young Company and The Circus House present Letters at the RNCM Theatre

RNCM Young Company combines with The Circus House to present Letters – a new work featuring music, dance and acrobatics, which examines the shared experiences of Mancunians and Parisians over the past century.

Motionhouse Charge at MediaCityUK Piazza
Dance 9 June 2018, FREE

Motionhouse: Charge at MediaCityUK

For one night only, Quays Culture will host an exclusive FREE outdoor performance with the absolutely electrifying world-class dance-circus company, Motionhouse.

Festivals 29 June–1 July 2018, from £6.00

Summer Beer Thing 2018

The Pilcrow Summer Beer Thing is a three day festival taking place at the start of Manchester Beer Week celebrating the great beer scene and culture in the North.

Women Hold Up Half the Sky exhibition and event programme by Ekua Bayunu at Alexandra Park, Manchester
Exhibitions 9 June 2018, FREE

Women Hold Up Half the Sky at Alexandra Park

Manchester-based artist Ekua Bayunu presents ‘Women Hold up Half the Sky’ at Alexandra Park – a day of celebration featuring art, sound installation, oral herstories, creative workshops, spoken word, acoustic music and… table tennis.

Summer Holiday at Bolton Octagon
Theatre 31 May–23 June 2018, from £18.50 - 27.50

Summer Holiday: The Musical at Bolton Octagon

Bolton Octagon launches their ‘Octagon on the Road’ season with an off-site production of the cult-classic Summer Holiday.

Blogger Kat Horrocks. Photo by Georgie Glass.
Literature 12–27 May 2018, from £5.00

Altrincham Word Fest at various venues

A twist on the usual literature festival, Altrincham Word Fest aims to kindle your own creativity by inviting some of the North West’s most talented writers to share their secrets to success in a series of hands-on workshops and events.

Cinema 27 May 2018, from £7.50

Grimmfest Presents: Class Of ’82 at Stockport Plaza

Horror specialists Grimmfest take us back to 1982 with a four-film marathon screening at Stockport Plaza.

Sergey Ponomarev Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2013 Assad's Syria (2013-2014). IWM North
Exhibitions 16 February–28 May 2018, FREE

Syria: A Conflict Explored at IWM North

ENDS SOON. IWM North’s season of exhibitions and events that attempt to cut through the complexity surrounding the Syrian crisis, and offer a human account of what’s happening in the country today.

Exhibitions 16 February–3 June 2018, FREE

Anthony McCall: Solid Light Works at The Hepworth, Wakefield

The world premiere of three new immersive, interactive ‘solid light’ installations by Anthony McCall opens at The Hepworth Wakefield, as part of a major survey of the artist’s work.

Culture Guides

Women Hold Up Half the Sky by Ekua Bayunu at Alexandra Park, Manchester


The revolutionary fervour of the May ’68 Paris uprising, the seismic impact of the Dutch Golden Age on western art history, and notions of ‘the monstrous’ in 21st century life are just some of the themes explored within this month’s hand-picked selection of must-see exhibitions from across the north.

Theatre in Manchester and The North Guide


Vibrant, varied and fearless – there’s a real wealth of performance on offer in Manchester and the North – we’ve rounded up the best in our theatre guide.

Telling Tales


Silent films, documentaries and revolution! Find out what’s going on in the cinemas of Manchester and the North.


Out of this world free festivals of making, maritime magic in Liverpool and theatrical adventures for all the family this May.

Joanna Walsh. Photo by Lauren Elkin.


From poetry to prose, and taking in non-fiction and creative non-fiction and even theatre-y things along the way, there are book launches and brand-new commissions popping up all over Manchester, Salford and beyond.


From a series of folk sessions at the Mechanics’ Institute, via Brazilian Tropicália legends and a fresh look at the Whitworth’s gallery collection, the musical calendar for Manchester and the North is packed to the rafters.