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.

Soul Journey to Truth at HOME Manchester
Exhibitions 17 May–6 June 2021,

Soul Journey to Truth at HOME Manchester

Soul Journey to Truth at HOME Manchester highlights the experiences and creativity of people in prisons, secure settings and on probation in the North West.

Festivals 17 May–30 June 2021, from £5.50

HOME Reopening Programme May 2021

The big screen is back, and Manchester’s HOME have sorted a blistering reopening programme that combines new releases with rare films from cinema’s past.

Percy the Park Keeper - The Secret Path in the Gardens, Tatton Park
Activity Until 13 June 2021, from £6

Percy the Park Keeper – The Secret Path in the Gardens

There’s nowhere quite like Tatton Park on a warm sunny day and Percy the Park Keeper – The Secret Path in the Gardens is the perfect way to explore the stunning parkland and all it has to offer. This family-friendly walking trail combines the sights, sounds and scents of nature in a maze of ‘secret’ gardens.

ComedySportz, Waterside Arts
Families 11 September 2021 6:30 pm, from £6


Head to Waterside Arts for a comedy show with a difference! Suitable for children aged 7 and up, ComedySportz combines football, tennis, and theatre in a performance packed with plenty of gags.

Literature 26 May 2021 8:00 pm, FREE

Andrew McMillan online book launch with Malika Booker

Andrew McMillan’s third collection, pandemonium, is out with Jonathan Cape on 20 May, and this online event will see him reading from it and having an in-depth chat about it with his colleague in the Manchester Writing School, Forward Prize-winning Malika Booker.

Literature 31 May 2021 7:00 pm, FREE

An online evening with Arachne Press featuring Laura Besley, David Hartley and Rob Walton

Join independent publishers Arachne Press as three of their writers read new work and discuss the differences between short stories and flash fiction and flash fiction and poetry.

Cinema 7–30 June 2021,

The Reverse Gaze: Filmmaking on Screen at HOME

New at HOME, The Reverse Gaze: Filmmaking on Screen is a season of films about filmmaking, exploring the act of creating images and the industry which surrounds them.

Zog Live onstage at The Lowry theatre
Families 2–4 July 2021, from £16


Enjoy Zog live at The Lowry in an incredible new adaptation which is packed with lively songs from Joe Stilgie and lots of fire-breathing fun.

Kantina Weekender
Food and Drink 28–31 May 2021, from £35

Kantina Weekender

Kantina Weekender runs on May Bank Holiday, from 28 May to 31 May. Celebrating the joy of food and drink, the in-house vendors at Escape to Freight Island will be paired with some of the UK’s most prestigious chefs, cocktail makers, brewers and local restaurant heroes.

Liverpool Biennial 2021 – The Stomach and the Port
Exhibitions Until 6 June 2021, FREE

Liverpool Biennial 2021 – The Stomach and the Port

The 11th edition of the UK’s oldest and largest festival of contemporary visual art is about to open, with work by over 50 artists.

Manchester International Festival: The Walk
Festivals 1–18 July 2021, from £12.00

Manchester International Festival

Manchester International Festival is the world’s first festival of original work and special events – a biennial celebration of performance and art.

Music 4–5 September 2021, from £19.50

Manchester Psych Fest 2021

Manchester Psych Fest, an all-day celebration of alternative music and art, returns in September 2021, headlined by Stereolab.

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.

PUSH Festival - HOME
Festivals Until 31 December 2021,

PUSH Festival 2021 at HOME

Thrilling and challenging, HOME’s annual festival is a glimmering reminder that new performance continues to be developed, despite ‘you-know-what’.

Exhibitions Until 31 May 2021, FREE

Open Up Sheffield 2021

One of the largest and most successful open studio events outside of London, Open Up Sheffield is taking the party online this year with a diverse range of artists and makers from across the South Yorkshire region opening their practice to the public online.

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 and translator Jhumpa Lahiri.


As the land of live literature tentatively opens the door a crack, we have some talks and walks IRL to flag up and a whole host of online dates for your diary this May, a jam-packed month of festival readings, digital book launches and spoken word showcases…


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.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Online events

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

Tours and Activities

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter and the 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.