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
Festivals 29 June–16 July 2017, from £12.00

Manchester International Festival 2017

Manchester International Festival, the world’s first festival of original work and special events, returns in 2017 under new Artistic Director 2017. Here’s our guide to the unique programme, taking place across Manchester.

Exhibitions 29 June 2017, FREE

MIF17: What Is the City but the People? in Piccadilly Gardens

Conceived by artist Jeremy Deller, What Is the City but the People? will see residents parading on a specially designed walkway across Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens to musical accompaniment, capturing the city through its outfits and attitudes.

Sophie Willan Branded at Contact
Comedy 28 June–1 July 2017, from £07.00

Sophie Willan: Branded at Contact

Sophie Willan is a pity-free laughter machine, whose mirth-filled self examinations are not to be missed.

Theatre 27 May–16 July 2017, FREE

IRIS by Marshmallow Laser Feast at The Lowry

The Lowry’s Lyric Theatre is set to be taken over by a stunning spectacle of lasers, light, sound and colour from leading creative studio Marshmallow Laser Feast. Audiences will experience IRIS – a unique digital art installation created using laser technology.

Music 28 June 2017, from £15.00

RNCM Big Band with Laurence Cottle at the RNCM

On the 30th anniversary of his death, American bassist Jaco Pastorius is the subject of this Summer Big Band show – featuring collaborations between Laurence Cottle and RNCM students.

Music 29 June 2017, from £15.00

RNCM Symphony Orchestra at The Bridgewater Hall

RNCM Symphony Orchestra makes its annual visit to The Bridgewater Hall for a concert that features Tchaikovsky’s monumental and radical Sixth, plus works by Mussorgsky and Prokofiev.

Exhibitions 17 June–16 September 2017, FREE

Liverpool(e): Mover, Shaker, Architectural Risk-Taker

Liverpool is a city that can be read like no other as a living, breathing encyclopedia of British architecture. But how has its unique skyline been shaped, and how else might it have looked? These are the intriguing questions asked by RIBA North’s inaugural exhibition.

Families 21–30 July 2017,

Refract:17 at Waterside Arts Centre

A festival of light, one that covers the whole spectrum of performance from comedy to kids shows.

Festivals 21–23 July 2017, from £20.00

Underneath The Stars Festival 2017

This charismatic folk and acoustic music festival in the stunning South Yorkshire countryside has a cracking family friendly arts programme and tremendous food.

Cinema 11 August 2017, from £15.00

Picnic Cinema: Pulp Fiction (18) at Muncaster Castle

Picnic Cinema presents one of the defining films of the nineties. Grab your tasty beverage of choice and enjoy Quentin Tarantino’s effortlessly cool crime flick in the magnificent surroundings of Muncaster Castle.

Cinema 5–12 August 2017, from £15.00

Picnic Cinema, Cumbria

Picnics, dancing, shenanigans, capers, discos, tomfoolery and great, classic, cult and horror films in extraordinary locations. This year’s selection of films includes Pulp Fiction, The Wicker Man and Boogie Nights.

Author David Gaffney headlines Bad Language. (Credit: Phil Rigby)
Literature 28 June 2017, FREE

Bad Language at The Castle Hotel

Live lit regular Bad Language waves farewell to The Castle as it prepares to cross the road to Gullivers for its July event. No open mic this month – just more headliners than you can shake a stick at.

Exhibitions 17 June–12 August 2017, FREE

LOVE LIFE: ACT II at Grundy Art Gallery

A radical re-imagining of ‘Punch and Judy’ explores the darker side of the popular Victorian seaside show at Grundy Art Gallery.

Visual Arts 16 July 2017,

MIF17: Ceremony at Bridgewater Hall Car Park

MIF17’s closing event will see the return of Manchester’s adopted son and life-long champion of the working classes, Friedrich Engels, to the city.

Comedy 31 August–9 September 2017, from £10

Daniel Kitson: Something Other Than Everything at Royal Exchange

Daniel Kitson returns to the Royal Exchange with more sublime thoughts and silly stories.

Culture Guides

Food and Drink

Discover the best food and drink that the North has to offer in our expert guide to food and drink in Manchester and beyond.


Our top picks this month reflect on the predictable uncertainty of the world – through subversive enamel paintings, a séance for a figure of alternative facts, and an event that will equip its audience with apocalypse skills.


It’s all about the best festival experiences for families this month with highlight events at MIF and our full guides to the best summer festivals to pack up the boot full of wellies for.

Author David Gaffney headlines Bad Language. (Credit: Phil Rigby)


Novels, narrative non-fiction, new works… June sees a whole host of live literature events in Didsbury, FutureEverything poetry, Bad Language events a-go-go and a look forward to next month…


As we enter festival season, the likes of bluedot, Cloudspotting and Manchester International Festival offer the chance to see some of the biggest artists on the planet in our own backyards…

Sophie Willan Branded at Contact


Jaunts to the countryside, a new comedy show that turns tragedy on its tail and the best bits of MIF17 are all in this month’s theatre guide.


We highlight the best arthouse gems, charming animations and underrated blockbuster revivals showing on cinema screens near you this month.

Destination Guides