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 6–16 December 2017, from £21.00

RNCM Opera: Cinderella (Cendrillon) by Jules Massenet at the RNCM

For its festive outing, the RNCM Opera performs Cendrillon, Jules Massenet’s twist on the Cinderella fairytale, widely praised for its wit and humour. This dramatic production continues the RNCM’s season-long French Connections series.

Theatre 12–23 December 2017, from £10.00

Hot Brown Honey at HOME

Hot Brown Honey turns cabaret into a tool of Black activism, hammered home with plenty of comic confidence.

Families 13–17 December 2017, from £12

The Night Before Christmas at The Atkinson

If you thought that “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” you’d be wrong in this sparkling, nocturnal adventure at The Atkinson for little ones.

Cinema 18 December 2017, from £5.00

Batman Returns

When a corrupt businessman and the grotesque Penguin plot to take control of Gotham City, only Batman can stop them, while the Catwoman has her own agenda.

Families 24 November–30 December 2017, from £10

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

Adventure around a magical sorting office after dark for an incredible, fairy tale, illuminated theatrical adventure. Don’t forget your letter for Father Christmas

Music 20 December 2017, from £18.00

Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band at the RNCM

Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band visit Manchester to perform songs from their acclaimed album Big Machine. The folk collective’s latest outing is their most ambitious and adventurous output to date, featuring collaborations with the likes of Damien Dempsey and Teddy Thompson as they tackle both contemporary and traditional songs.

Exhibitions 23 November 2017–3 February 2018, FREE

Kate Colin: The Art of the Fold at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Designer-maker Kate Colin creates striking geometric artworks that transform with the addition of light.

Families 13–20 December 2017, from £5.00

The Siege of Christmas at Contact

Way more fun than a boring old panto, The Siege of Christmas is an immersive adventure for families.

Families 1 December 2017–14 January 2018, from £19:50

The Secret Seven at Storyhouse

Magnifying glasses at the ready. Storyhouse’s first ever Christmas explodes into life with the world’s first ever stage show of Enid Blyton’s children’s classic.

Exhibitions 1–17 December 2017, FREE

Christmas with Us at Leeds Train Station

Listen to the personal accounts of over 50 people from across Leeds, capturing both the beauty and hidden challenges of the Christmas period, in an immersive, multimedia instillation by artist David Shearing.

Exhibitions 11–23 December 2017, FREE

Arctic Bazaar at Art Hostel, Leeds

Head to Leeds to experience an Icelandic landscape of interactive artworks and a curated market selling warming spices, salted liquorice and Glögi (Finnish mulled wine).

Theatre 7–30 December 2017, from £6.50

Red Riding Hood and The Wolf at HOME

Hold. The. Front. Page. The Wolf is good? Experience a retelling of Red Riding Hood like no other which celebrates little independent and creative spirits everywhere.

Music 12 January 2018, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Smetana | Saint-Saëns | Berlioz | Janáček at The Bridgewater Hall

Leading British conductor Edward Gardner is your guide for a joyous European tour to lift the January gloom featuring Smetana’s effervescent overture The Bartered Bride and Janácek’s heart-on-sleeve love letter to his hometown of Brno.

Exhibitions 18 November 2017–25 February 2018, FREE

humansbeingdigital at The Lowry

An exhibition that encourages us to question the given, as well as conquering the complex.

Childrens 16 November–20 December 2017, FREE

Chester Christmas Market 2017

Chester, with its cosy pubs and winding cobbled streets, is not only the perfect chocolate-box town, but also, perhaps one of the most festive places you could possibly head in the run up to Christmas (except maybe Lapland).

Culture Guides


With a diverse offering of shows, we’ve got the guide to Manchester and the North’s festive theatre scene all wrapped up.


Featuring animation, fairy tales and festive cheer. Cosy up with some first-class cinema this winter.


Experience a ‘sublime’ encounter with ‘future archaeology’ and the ancient craft of pottery through Greek mythology and sound – all part of this month’s exhibition highlights.


Adventure and light are where it’s at. Chester Zoo is transformed into a magical sorting office, there’s detective heaven at the Secret Seven and we preview some alternative things to do and see this winter holiday.

oet and playwright Jackie Hagan.


There’s splendid spoken wordage a-go-go this festive season and into the New Year: award-winning writers, real-life storytelling, book-buying opportunities and plenty of fun of the poetry and prose variety.


Manchester’s concert halls and former Wesleyan chapels serve up folky treats in the form of Lau, Jesca Hoop, The Unthanks and more over the coming months. We also explore all things classical from Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic – and start looking ahead to next year’s festival season.

Destination Guides

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Theatre 9 November–16 December 2017, from £20.00

Little Women: The Musical at Hope Mill Theatre

Festivals 8–17 December 2017, FREE

Lightwaves 2017 at The Quays

Cinema 8–18 December 2017, from £5.00

A Tim Burton Trio at HOME

Families 24 November–18 December 2017, FREE

Snö Garden at Camp & Furnace

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Cinema 8–18 December 2017, from £5.00

A Tim Burton Trio at HOME

Cinema 12 November–19 December 2017, from £5.00

The Enchanted Screen at FACT

Theatre 20 September–20 December 2017,

Contact Autumn Season 2017

Families 13–20 December 2017, from £5.00

The Siege of Christmas at Contact

Childrens 16 November–20 December 2017, FREE

Chester Christmas Market 2017