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
Theatre 18–21 October 2017, from £15.50

Under Glass at The Lowry

Performers inhabit giant glass jars, Petri dishes and test tubes for an acclaimed production in which much is revealed through confinement.

Music 19–22 October 2017, from £6.00

Manchester Folk Festival 2017

With 15 concerts featuring over 30 leading folk lights, including The Young ‘Uns, John Smith, Tom Robinson, False Lights and Afro Celt Sound System. Add to this workshops, talks, film screenings and a ‘singaround’, and it promises to be a truly special celebration of English folk music.

Exhibitions 23 September–19 November 2017, FREE

Arts and Wonder season at Quarry Bank

Quarry Bank’s new season of contemporary art exploring themes of work, leisure and the legacies of industrialisation, seems particularly prescient in today’s world of rapidly advancing technology.

Exhibitions 11–22 October 2017, from £0.00

Design Manchester 2017

Manchester’s citywide festival of creativity and design returns for its fifth outing, sparking curiosity, creativity and discussion for all, from budding young animators to industry professionals. A jam-packed programme of talks, exhibitions, workshops, films, live music and fairs.

Exhibitions 21 October 2017–7 January 2018, FREE

The Return of Memory at HOME

A major new exhibition at HOME sets out to re-examine the legacy of the Russian Revolution through the lens of the ‘New East’ today.

Families 19 October–5 November 2017, from £6

Big Imaginations Festival

This autumn, Big Imaginations will celebrate and showcase the highest quality theatre for children and families in over 26 venues across the North West.

Exhibitions 29 September 2017–3 June 2018, FREE

New North & South: South Asia art and culture programme 2017–18 across Manchester

A major programme of exhibitions and events reflecting on the shared heritage and historic connections between South Asia and the North of England opens across the city.

1 November 2017, from £0.00

United in Anger at No 70

Special screening of United in Anger: A History of ACT UP, an inspiring documentary about the international direct action sexual health advocacy group.

Writer Michael Symmons Roberts.
Festivals 1 November–8 December 2017, FREE

RAH! Research in Arts and Humanities Programme

Exciting new public engagement programme from Manchester Met’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, with talks, screenings, fairs, workshops, artist happenings and augmented reality.

Music 17–26 November 2017, from £9

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2017

The UK’s largest international festival of new and experimental music returns for its 40th edition. Featuring the music of Kraftwerk and Lou Reed, as well as countless exclusives and premieres from composers and ensembles from throughout the world, 2017 promises to be the festival’s biggest and most adventurous outing to date.

Music 21 October 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Stravinsky | Sibelius | Beethoven at The Bridgewater Hall

The first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth herald the start of one of the greatest symphonies ever written…..Conductor Nicholas Collon and Violinist James Ehnes join the orchestra for an evening not to be missed.

Festivals 25–29 October 2017, from £10.00

Gothic Manchester Festival 2017

Gothic Manchester Festival is back in style this October. Goths, steampunks and assorted ‘weirdo mosher freaks’ can let their hair down with a series of film screenings, literary events and the annual conference.

Families 21–31 October 2017, FREE

Halloween in the City

Creepy capers across Manchester City Centre for little and big ghosts with the most.

Exhibitions 23 September–5 November 2017, FREE

British Ceramics Biennial 2017 in Stoke-on-Trent

Head down to the world’s pottery capital to experience the cutting-edge future of one of the world’s most ancient disciplines.

Exhibitions 30 September 2017–4 February 2018, FREE

Hetain Patel at Manchester Art Gallery

International artist Hetain Patel explores issues of identity, gender, race and class with one big Spidey leap.

Culture Guides


Everything’s gone a little spooky. We pick out the best scary screenings on offer in Manchester and the North this October.


From cutting-edge ceramics to steampunk fashion, festival season is far from over in the world of contemporary art.


This month it’s all about spectacles and dramatic adventure at the Dashehra Diwali Mela, an enchanted Chester Zoo, the bonkers Winter Droving in Penrith and the Big Imaginations Festival of children’s theatre

Writer Luke Kennard.


There are some fantastic free live literature happenings, Gothic goings-on as Halloween approaches and bookings being taken for this year’s Creative Writing Graduate Fair – plus it’s your last chance to catch Manchester Literature Festival!


As the festival season has well and truly ended, live music returns to the city’s concert halls and venues. Why not check out Manchester Folk Festival – new in 2017 – plus major events like Transformer and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.


Politics both personal and global make this month’s theatre guide, all backed up by the reassuring presence of Sherlock Holmes.

Destination Guides