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
Music 23–27 May 2019, from £5.00

Manchester Jazz Festival 2019 – MJF19

MJF returns this week with a fresh new look, a new festival hub location and more venues across the city than ever before.

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 16–22 May 2019, from £14

The Hallé – Symphonie fantastique at The Bridgewater Hall

Sir Mark Elder brings the 2018–19 Opus One Series to a triumphant close with Berlioz’ best-known work, ‘Symphonie fantastique’. Also in the programme is the brilliantly virtuosic overture to Smetana’s ‘The Bartered Bride’, as well as Dvorák’s beautiful ‘Violin Concerto’.

Handbagged at Oldham Coliseum
Theatre 14 May–1 June 2019, from £17.00

Handbagged at Oldham Coliseum

Written by Moira Buffini, Handbagged is the sparklingly entertaining tale of the Queen’s infamous weekly meetings with Margaret Thatcher.

Kapow! Original Comic Book Art from Dean Ormston & Fiona Stephenson
Exhibitions 18 May–28 August 2019, FREE

Kapow! Original Comic Book Art at Cooper Gallery Barnsley

Award-winning DC Comics artist Dean Ormston and internationally renowned pin-up artist Fiona Stephenson are curating this unique and colourful comic book art exhibition.

Russell Maliphant's Silent Lines at The Lowry
Dance 29 May 2019, from £15.50

Russell Maliphant’s Silent Lines at The Lowry

The Olivier Award-winning Russell Maliphant Company are set to delight Salford audiences with their much-anticipated new dance production, Silent Lines.

Music 25 May 2019, from £16.50

Max Cooper at Gorilla

This immersive audio-visual show at Gorilla sees the ever-innovative Max Cooper merge his stunning electronic music with science-inspired visual art.

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.

Exhibitions 17 May 2019–15 May 2020, FREE

Poulsen Arc Dream Radio at Storyhouse in Chester

What does it mean to be transported into another person’s memories? Step into a new digital art commission at Storyhouse in Chester to find out.

Exhibitions 6 June–25 September 2019, FREE

LOOK Photo Biennial — Chapter One: Transplant

LOOK Photo Biennial 2019 – a major programme of photography-based exhibitions taking place across Liverpool, the Wirral and Shanghai – opens this June.

MIF19 David Lynch at HOME Manchester International Festival
Festivals 4–21 July 2019, from £12.00

MIF19 – Manchester International Festival

Manchester International Festival 2019 is nearly upon us  and it’s fair to say that we’re more than a little excited by the calibre of this year’s programme, which may indeed prove to be the festival’s strongest yet.

Manchester Day courtesy Mark Waugh
Festivals 23 June 2019, FREE

Manchester Day 2019

Dust down your tail-feathers and get out on the streets for carnival, community and an exuberant celebration of Manchester.

Dave Haslam. Photo by Chris Payne
Literature 11–26 May 2019, 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.

University of Manchester Community Festival
Families 15 June 2019, FREE

University of Manchester Community Festival

Free festival with interactive, behind the scenes access to world changing discovery in the fields of arts, science, languages and medicine. Walk on custard, discover secret societies and more.

Survey at Bluecoat, Liverpool
Exhibitions 13 April–23 June 2019, FREE

Survey at Bluecoat, Liverpool

Survey at Bluecoat will offer a major study of new work by early career artists from across the UK. The exhibition is the largest review of contemporary art practice in Jerwood Visual Art’s 12 years of programming, spanning a breadth of disciplines including film, performance, and painting.

Culture Guides


Manchester gets its own documentary cinema, Pilot Light TV Festival returns to HOME and we highlight some festivals across the region.

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.

Quays Culture Summer Festival


Spectacular tightrope walks, Transylvanian twirling and Manchester Day’s 10th birthday bash. It’s all here.

Tracy K Smith


We’re mixing international and local on the poetry and prose scene right now – from Africa to Altrincham, and from America to your imagination, guest readers have all your literature needs covered.

These New Puritans


Ranging from extra-terrestrial pop to death metal to the future of electronic music, this month’s music guide is a corker.

Theatre in Manchester


Experimental arts festivals, award-winning new writing and a bloodthirsty dose of Shakespeare. It’s all in our new theatre guide.


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

Try something different in May with our round up of the month’s alternative Tours and Activities in Manchester.