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.

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.

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 18 June–4 August 2017, from £5.00

RNCM Summer Season 2017

Everything from classical music, Big band and jazz right through to a student collaboration with New Order.

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 encyclopaedia 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.

Families 7–10 September 2017, from £120.00

Festival No.6 2017 at Portmeirion

Welcome to a festival like no other, in the most stunning festival setting in the world. The picturesque Italiante village of Portmeirion is Festival No.6’s home, and was the original inspiration behind its desire to create a completely new type of festival.

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.

Exhibitions 20 May–19 November 2017, FREE

What’s in Store? at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

What’s in Store? is a unique showcase of The University of Salford Art Collection; established in 1969 it now includes around 700 works by artists including Bridget Riley, David Hockney and Gilbert and George.

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.

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.

Families 18–20 August 2017, from £20.00

Just So Festival 2017 at Rode Hall, Cheshire

The best family festival in the UK? We think so. Adventure together into a wonderland of the best outdoor theatre, music, comedy, literature and other curious creative escapades. With midnight feasts, pillow fights and the bonkers Tribal Tournament be sure to snap up a ticket fast.

Exhibitions 25 February–3 September 2017, FREE

Never Going Underground at People’s History Museum

January 1967: it’s illegal for men to have sex together, lesbianism is seen as a medical misfortune, and trans rights are non-existent. 50 years later, LGBT+ legal protection and equality is almost UK-wide. This exhibition charts the activist struggle to get where we are today.

Exhibitions 19 May–20 August 2017, FREE

Object Lessons at Manchester Museum

Extraordinary objects from the private collection of art collector George Loudon go on display to the public for the first time in Object Lessons at Manchester Museum – a showcase of 19th century life science teaching objects that blurs the boundary between art and science.

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.


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.


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.


We celebrate all things boundary breaking and ambitious this month – think aerial interactive fairy tales at museums, a “story slide”, cutting edge technology, riotous street performance and the best summer festival experiences.

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


Novels, narrative non-fiction, new works… June sees the last Verbose before summer, a whole host of live literature events in Didsbury, FutureEverything poetry and a look forward to next month…

Destination Guides