Summer highlights from the Cultural Calendar: Our unmissables

Polly Checkland Harding

The details are finalised – and summer’s cultural offer is looking pretty fine. Here are our top picks from across the North.

Manchester International Festival is looming large on everyone’s cultural radar – and rightly so. But it’s not all about Manchester; while the incredible-sounding M+ Sigg exhibition at the Whitworth is also one of our top picks, both events come as part of an impressively full cultural offering across the north this summer.

So, we’ve returned to our Cultural Calendar to revisit the exhibitions and events that, at the start of this year, looked the starriest. Sure enough, they’re only blazing brighter now, with details of world premieres, Manchester favourites Elbow taking to the stage and cinema-inspired parties at castles all confirmed. Fill your boots (or your diary).


Build Your Own Four new commissions – featuring robotic gardening systems, 3D printing and prosthetics – highlight the connections between craft, technology and community, with skill sharing and collaborative making in focus. FACT, Liverpool, 4 June – 31 August

Terry Frost A major retrospective of the St. Ives artist’s paintings, collages and sculptural forms. Marking a centenary from his birth, this exhibition focuses on themes of performance, construction and colour in a fresh perspective on six decades of work. Leeds Art Gallery, 19 June – 30 August, then touring

Taking Flight: St Ives in the 1950s Already featured as a ‘hot summer choice’ in both the Times and the Telegraph, this exhibition showcases paintings by five artists – including Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Peter Lanyon – whose output in the small Cornish fishing town once rivalled the modern art issuing from Paris and New York. Abbot Hall, Kendal, 26 June – 3 October


The Hook Suppressed by the FBI for fear of causing unrest in New York’s Dockyards, Arthur Miller’s story of a longshoreman’s challenge to the mobsters, gangs and corruption surrounding the docks now has its world premiere at the Everyman. Everyman, Liverpool, 1-25 July

REALITY: Modern & Contemporary British Painting Over 50 works from some of Britain’s most influential artists, including the likes of Paula Rego, Francis Bacon and LS Lowry, come together for an exhibition that explores the ongoing relevance of painting. The Walker, Liverpool, 10 July – 29 November

Anthony Caro This Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle-led showcase celebrates the career one of Britain’s greatest sculptors with two exhibitions (one at the The Hepworth, Wakefield, the second at YSP) that feature 80 works, from figurative drawings to large, outdoor sculptures. Yorkshire Sculpture Park & The Hepworth, Wakefield, 18 July – 1 November

Picnic Cinema The outdoor film season – screened at castles, forests and stately halls – returns with a roster of parties themed around Trainspotting, Grease, Moulin Rouge and more. Not to be missed. Various venues, Cumbria, until 5 September

Kendal Calling Elbow, The Vaccines, Ella Eyre and Kate Tempest are all on the bill of this award-winning music festival in the Lakes, alongside a real ale festival, performance art and Tim Peaks Diner. Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria, 30 July – 2 August

Manchester Jazz Festival Pulling out the stops to celebrate its 20th year, the festival has the likes of Manchester After Hours favourites the New York Brass Band and a new audiovisual commission from John Ellis and Antony Barkworth-Knight to be staged in the stunning surrounds of the Town Hall’s Great Hall on its programme. Various venues, Manchester, 31 July – 9 August

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