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.

Everything that happened that would happen at Mayfield
Theatre 10–21 October 2018, from £25.00

Everything that happened and would happen at Mayfield

Heiner Goebbels new large-scale work, presented with Manchester International Festival, will receive its world premiere in Manchester this autumn.

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.

Music 9 June 2018, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Albéniz | Falla at The Bridgewater Hall

For his final Bridgewater Hall concert as the BBC Philharmonic’s Chief Conductor, Juanjo Mena spirits us away to his Spanish homeland with a programme that includes a concert performance of Manuel de Falla’s vibrant,one-hour opera, La vida breve.

Music 8 June 2018, from £14

F W Murnau’s Sunrise – 1920s silent film with live accompaniment at the RNCM Concert Hall

F W Murnau’s 1927 romantic drama Sunrise marked both the pinnacle and end of silent film, as it was one of the first films to feature a synchronised musical score and sound effects soundtrack. For this screening, however, award-winning French organist and composer Thierry Escaich will provide the audio accompaniment.

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.

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.

REFRACT 18 at Waterside Arts
Festivals 19–28 July 2018,

REFRACT:18 at Waterside Arts

Curated by Waterside Arts, Refract:18 is a unique ten-day festival of experiential performance, comedy, live music and family events that challenge you to see things differently.

Journeys of the Imagination: May half term survival story at Quarry Bank
Families 28 May–1 June 2018, from £Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Journeys of the Imagination: May half term survival story at Quarry Bank

Test out your survival skills as a runaway apprentice and adventure round the incredible outdoor spaces at Quarry Bank this half term

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.

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.

Giuseppe Penone, Continuera a Crescere Tranne che in quel Punto. 1968-2003. Courtesy the-artist. Photo © Archivo Penone. Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP)
Exhibitions 26 May 2018–28 April 2019, FREE

Giuseppe Penone at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Grounded in a more poetic, ‘geological’ sense of time, the eminent Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone stands apart from the everyday concerns of the modern world. Experience his work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

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.

Chiharu Shiota –Uncertain Journey, 2016, Blainsouthern Berlin, Germany. Installation metal frames red wool. Photo Christian Gglaaser. Copyright Vgbildkunstbonn 2017 and the artist. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Exhibitions 1 January 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2018 Guide

Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s 2018 programme of international contemporary art has left us itching to get out of the city and back to one of our all-time-favourite places.

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.

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


Open air performances, off-site productions and hotly anticipated world premières – we’ve got it all covered in our theatre guide.


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.

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.

Poet Amy McCauley. Credit Francesca Sophia.


There’s plenty of poetry and a fantastic flash fiction workshop and showcase to catch, book launches and new collections coming out of our ears, and experimental wordage a-go-go from writers of both prose and pomes. And if you don’t like sitting still, there’s even a literature trail or two on their way…