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
¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival at HOME
Cinema 12 April–5 May 2018,

¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival at HOME

For its 24th edition, ¡Viva! returns with a HOME-wide celebration of film, theatre and visual art from across Spain and Latin America.

Childrens 28 April–12 May 2018, from £00.00

Leeds International Festival 2018

Leeds International Festival, the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, is back for its second year, this time featuring more than 50 events and 40 speakers over 15 days.

Music 24 April–27 July 2018, from £12

RNCM Summer Season 2018

Featuring classical, sacred and jazz music, as well as poetry, theatre and dance, the RNCM’s Summer Season looks set to both inspire and surprise. Read our picks for the months ahead.

Chiharu Shiota, Memory of the Ocean, 2017. Le Bon Marche, Paris, France. Installation – white wool wires. Photo by Gabriel de la Chapelle. Copyright vg Bild Kunst Bonn 2017 and the artist
Exhibitions 30 March–2 September 2018, FREE

Chiharu Shiota: Beyond Time at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Legendary for her giant, labyrinthine webs, Japanese-born artist Chiharu Shiota prepares to take over Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s serene 18th-century chapel as part of her new exhibition: Beyond Time.

The Alchemy of Colour at The John Rylands Library
Exhibitions 15 March–27 August 2018, FREE

The Alchemy of Colour at The John Rylands Library

Did you know that the remarkable yellows of Turner’s sunsets came from the urine of mango-fed cows? Or that the reds of Raphael’s greatest masterpieces derived from cactus-dwelling bugs? The Alchemy of Colour at The John Rylands Library explores the unusual stories behind some of art history’s most dazzling hues.

Spring Awakening at Hope Mill Theatre
Theatre 29 March–3 May 2018, from £16.00

Spring Awakening at Hope Mill Theatre

Spring Awakening combines an electrifying rock score and genre-defying writing to tell the story of sexual and adolescent discovery.

A Clockwork Orange at Liverpool Everyman
Theatre 14 April–12 July 2018, from £10.00

A Clockwork Orange at Liverpool Everyman

The award-winning Everyman Company let loose with an astonishing adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange.

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.

The National Festival of Making, Blackburn
Exhibitions 12–13 May 2018, FREE

The National Festival of Making 2018

The practical act of DIY, hands-on making is full of benefits, and rapidly becoming a growing trend. Head to the National Festival of Making in Blackburn to unlock your hidden talents and discover your untapped creative potential.

Astronaut Helen Sharman speaks at the Waterfront Museum, Swansea, South Wales. PIC Matthew Horwood © WALES NEWS SERVICE Astronaut wanted, no experience necessary at Leeds International Festival
Festivals 5 May 2018, from £12.00

Astronaut wanted, no experience necessary at Salem Chapel, Leeds

Helen Sharman CMG OBE shares her experiences of being the first Briton to travel into space, aged 27, and Bas Lansdorp sets out Mars Ones’ plans to settle the first human colony on Mars in 2032. Part of ‘Astronaut wanted, no experience necessary’ at Leeds International Festival 2018.

Digital Natives, 34 Boar Lane, Leeds International Festival
Exhibitions 28 April–1 May 2018, FREE

Digital Natives at 34 Boar Lane, Leeds

Part of Leeds International Festival 2018, Digital Natives is a unique exploration into the way in which indigenous communities in north east Brazil have been using digital technology to fight prejudice, lobby for rights, increase cultural visibility and provide a means of creative expression.

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.

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

IWM North launches a 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.

Lakes Ignite 2018, The Lake District National Park
Exhibitions 10 January–31 July 2018, FREE

Lakes Ignite 2018, The Lake District National Park

A giant, fluorescent pink and orange striped inflatable, a shoal of Ice Age fish, and a VR encounter with the depths of the earth; six contemporary artists explore the less commonly-observed wonders of the Lake District.

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

IOU Theatre: Rear View


The spring/ summer theatre season is in full swing, we’ve got the pick of the performative crop. Read it, pick it and book in.


It’s festival season at the cinemas of the North this month and we’ve got the low-down.

©Viviane Sassen, Ra, series Mud and Lotus 2017. Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa. Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror at The Hepworth Wakefield


Featuring a giant ‘art hammock’, the mesmerising photographs of Vivian Sassen, and a unique exploration into the use of digital technology by indigenous communities in north east Brazil; check out or latest exhibition highlights from across the North West.


Out of this world free festivals of making, magical dance experiences and theatrical adventures for all the family.

Luke Allan, Carcanet New Poetries.


It’s raining poetry and prose this April in the Rainy City, and there’s plenty to catch from both established and emerging writers. Fill your wellie boots – and your mornings, afternoons and evenings, weekdays and weekends.


From death-themed musicals to day-long explorations of the current freakscene, via rising country stars and a fresh look at an art gallery’s collection, the musical calendar for Manchester and the North is packed to the rafters.