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
Exhibitions 12–16 February 2019, FREE

FREEPORT: Terminal MCR at University of Salford MediaCityUK Campus

Abandon Normal Devices presents a free, week-long exhibition investigating art, technology and citizenship in the age of the Internet.

Mother Courage and her Children at the Royal Exchange
Theatre 8 February–2 March 2019, from £10.00

Mother Courage and her Children at the Royal Exchange

A sharp new adaptation of Brecht’s classic – Mother Courage and her Children – written by Anna Jordan and headed up by Julie Hesmondhalgh in the title role.

Senga Nengudi – The Henry Moore Institute
Exhibitions 21 September 2018–17 February 2019, FREE

Senga Nengudi at the Henry Moore Institute

LAST CHANCE. The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds presents a major exhibition dedicated to the work of African-American sculptor Senga Nengudi – the pioneering figure who first introduced contemporary art to nylon stockings.

Chinternet Ugly at Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art
Exhibitions 8 February–12 May 2019, FREE

Chinternet Ugly at Centre for ChineseContemporary Art

CFCCA presents Chinternet Ugly – a group exhibition that offers a rare glimpse behind the biggest digital boundary in the world: the Great Firewall of China.

Simeon Barclay: Life Room
Exhibitions 8 February–29 March 2019, FREE

Simeon Barclay: Life Room at The Holden Gallery

The Holden Gallery presents ‘Simeon Barclay: Life Room’, featuring new work by an artist from Huddersfield who discovered glamour, theatricality and a sense of aspiration between the pages of ‘Vogue’, and a love for industrial fabricating techniques during 16 years spent on the factory floor.

Cinema 7–28 February 2019, FREE

Bigger Than Life/ Four Films by Stephen Cone at Number 70, Oxford Street

Bigger Than Life and Research in Arts and Humanities at Manchester Met present the first UK retrospective of the films of American independent film director Stephen Cone, at No. 70, Oxford Road this February.

David Bethell: Fleeting Flights at HOME, Manchester
Exhibitions 26 January–17 March 2019, FREE

David Bethell: Fleeting Flights at HOME

Combining ambition and futility, folly and hope; will British artist David Bethell’s wooden balloon speak to our current age? The artist’s wonderfully enigmatic exhibition Fleeting Flights at HOME looks set to mark an exciting new point in his career.

Red detail for The Blanket by David Murphy at The Piece Hall
Exhibitions 25 January–7 April 2019, FREE

The Blanket by David Murphy at The Piece Hall

The Piece Hall in Halifax prepares to unveil ‘The Blanket’ – a new large-scale outdoor artwork by British sculptor David Murphy – which will occupy the centre of the former textile hall’s sweeping Georgian courtyard.

Kannan Arunasalam: The Tent at The Tetley
Exhibitions 16 February–2 June 2019, FREE

Kannan Arunasalam: The Tent at The Tetley

‘Kannan Arunasalam: The Tent’ at The Tetley explores the lasting impact of the civil war that raged in Sri Lanka for over 25 years, claiming the lives of an estimated 80,000-100,000 people and leading to the forced disappearance of more than 20,000 Tamils.

Festivals 1 January–31 December 2019,

HOME 2019 Season

With a continuing drive towards bold global programming, HOME Manchester welcomes friends, old and new, for an exhilarating new season.

'William Stott of Oldham: Great Painters are Rare' Exhibition at Gallery Oldham
Exhibitions 26 January–11 May 2019, FREE

‘William Stott of Oldham: Great Painters are Rare’ at Gallery Oldham

Exactly 120 years after his death, the work of the world-renowned William Stott of Oldham returns to his hometown as part of an exhibition dedicated to his legacy.

Literature 26–28 April 2019, from £10

Storyhouse Women at Chester Storyhouse

International activist, author and actor Rose McGowan is headlining the second Storyhouse Women Weekend festival taking place at the city arts venue 26 to 28 April, discussing her bestselling memoir/manifesto Brave.

The Lowry - Spring Summer Season. Image courtesy of Ed Waring.
Festivals 1 January–11 May 2019,

The Lowry Spring Summer Season

Birmingham Royal Ballet, Opera North, Northern Broadsides and Matthew Bourne’s stunning choreography are among our top picks of The Lowry’s new season.

Music 16 February 2019, from £12.5

Berlioz – Beatrice et Benedict at The Bridgewater Hall

As merry as the day is long, Hector Berlioz’s captivating comic opera is one of the most joyful operatic translations of Shakespeare from page to stage. Béatrice et Bénédict slims down the plot of Much Ado About Nothing to focus on the will-they-won’t they romance between the title characters, whose attraction to each other is the living, breathing antithesis of love at first sight.

Ludovic Morlot – like Berlioz, a Frenchman – is tonight’s conductor.

Holly Hendry, Cenotaph, 2018. Liverpool Biennial Touring Programme 2019
Exhibitions 18 January 2019–3 May 2020, FREE

Liverpool Biennial Northern England Tour

Whether Liverpool Biennial 2018 passed you by or you diligently ticked-off every last one of its multiple offerings (if so; bravo), the Liverpool Biennial Northern England Tour seems unlikely to disappoint.

Culture Guides


Valentine’s ideas, hard-to-see queer cinema and the best in new releases — we’ve got it covered.

Kimsooja, To Breathe. Photo © Jaeho Chong


Inspired by the meditative qualities of space and eastern notions of the Void, Kimsooja’s mesmerising installation at YSP’s historic chapel heads our top pick of exhibitions this month.

Big Up! Courtesy Theatre Rites / Helen Murray


See Mer-folk in a Human Aquarium, experience Trouble at t’Mill and the world of nocturnal animals after dark. Then break all the rules in new show Big Up!


Those darling buds are coming back to life in live literature land as 2019 gets properly underway, and we’ve plenty to look forward to – from performance poetry and soundscapes to readings from magazines, memoirs and award-winning short stories.


We have some hotly anticipated gigs coming up in Manchester and the north over the next few months! Read about them here!

Theatre in Manchester and the North


A Salford leisure centre, a city centre library and a Manchester museum – theatre can happen anywhere. Here’s our guide to the best performances popping up across Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

In this month’s roundup of best Tours and Activities in Manchester and the North, we highlight the pottery and craft workshops giving you some cathartic and creative opportunities to get making.