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
Families 22–23 June 2018, from £30.00

Cloudspotting Festival presents A Break In The Clouds at Gisburn Forest

Cloudspotting Festival is changing things up this year to present A Break In The Clouds in the earlier month of June. A family friendly celebration of the summer solstice under the stars featuring live music, forest art and camping.

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.

Hostile Detainment, These Walls Must Fall. Refugee Week Festival, HOME Manchester
Cinema 16–22 June 2018,

Refugee Week Festival at HOME

Gain a deeper understanding of the ‘refugee experience’ both in Manchester and beyond and celebrate their contribution to the UK with HOME’s inaugural Refugee Week Festival, featuring art, film, theatre, live music, dance and more.

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.

summer holiday at octagon theatre bolton
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. Just over a week left to see this critically acclaimed new production.

The Big I Am in rehearsal courtesy Brian Roberts
Theatre 16 June–14 July 2018, from £10.00

The Big I Am at Liverpool Everyman

A world premiere re-imagining of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, relocated to 20th Century Liverpool by writer Robert Farquhar

‘Fruit and Lobster’. A Dutch Golden Age: Painters, Places and People in the 17th Century at Cannon Hall Museum
Exhibitions 16 June–16 September 2018, FREE

A Dutch Golden Age: Painters, Places and People in the 17th Century at Cannon Hall Museum Park & Gardens

Capturing a unique period of intense creativity that fundamentally shaped the course of western art history, it’s fair to say that we’re more than a tad excited for the opening of ‘A Dutch Golden Age: Painters, Places and People in the 17th Century’ at Cannon Hall in Barnsley.

Families 23–24 June 2018, from £5.00

Children’s Book Festival at Quarry Bank

Join the best-loved children’s authors and illustrators from across the land for a weekend of literary larks and piano playing bears in the woods at Quarry Bank.

The Ministry of Lost and Found at Central Library
Childrens 23 June 2018, FREE

The Ministry of Lost & Found at Central Library

Pick up your map and join the first-ever Lost and Found expedition, a family-friendly afternoon of exploration, around Manchester’s Central Library.

Helen Mort. Photo by Jonathan Pow
Literature 1 June–31 October 2018, FREE

Northern Poetry Train

Manchester Literature Festival and Northern commissioned poet Helen Mort to write about the journey from Manchester to Hebden Bridge. Courtesy MLF and Northern, you can explore the Calder Valley’s rich literary heritage with a special trail and map.

Literature 5 July 2018, from £5.00

That’s What She Said at Tribeca

It’s the last That’s What She Said before a summer break, and this month the For Books’ Sake gang welcome authors Holly Ringland and Rosie Garland to their all-female line-up.

Music 6 July 2018, from £20

Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra: The Planets at The Bridgewater Hall

Relocating to the Bridgewater Hall for this season-opening concert, Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra tackles Holst’s crowd-pleasing imagining of the sounds of the universe. The programme also includes Elgar’s The Music Makers – a fitting ode to the importance of art in society – featuring the school’s combined choruses.

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.

albert finney: son of salford
Cinema 3–27 June 2018, from £5.50

Albert Finney: Son of Salford at HOME

Salford-born Albert Finney is widely regarded as one of Britain’s great actors. To celebrate his work on screen, HOME opens a season of films featuring some of his iconic roles and lesser-known works.

Jessie Roberts. Materialise: A Showcase of Five Young Makers at Manchester Craft & Design Centre
Exhibitions 24 May–1 September 2018, FREE

Materialise: A Showcase of Five Young Makers at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Catch a glimpse of the creative face of tomorrow with the work of five up-and-coming young makers, currently on show at Manchester Craft & Design Centre as part of Materialise.

Culture Guides

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North


Proto-feminism, the secret lives of birds, and the darkly satirical images of one of Britain’s leading political artists – we look forward to some of the top exhibition highlights coming up this month.

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.


Salford-born actor, Albert Finney is celebrated with a career retrospective at HOME, whilst director Stanley Kubrick gets the same treatment at FACT. Elsewhere there are one off screenings of classics, both new and old.

Manchester Day


It’s family festival fever. The National Trust Children’s Book Festival, University of Manchester Community Festival, Manchester Histories Festival and that’s just for starters.

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…


While this summer’s festivals – including bluedot, The Good Life Experience and Festival No. 6 – provide a welcome distraction, the likes of the RNCM and The Stoller Hall continue to provide adventurous programming.