Spring Bank Holiday roundup: The best of the month's second long weekend

Suzy Prince

We round up the best things to do in and around Manchester to help you to enjoy the Spring bank holiday.

The bank holiday that comes at the end of May is always a strange one. For a start, its official name is the ‘Spring’ bank holiday, when most people are starting to feel at least the first specks of summertime by this point. Then of course there’s already been a bank holiday earlier in the month. If you’re struggling to cope with all that glorious free time (we suspect that you aren’t but just in case), here’s our guide to the long weekend.

Dot to Dot festival

Bunting in a sunny outdoor courtyard

Kick off your bank holiday weekend in style, by leaving work early on Friday for the Dot to Dot Festival. Now in its eleventh year, Dot to Dot is an indoor music festival that takes its line-up on tour to play at various sites across three cities: Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. The focus is on indie bands, from newer acts like Rat Buy and Diet Cig to more established bands such as The Mystery Jets and The Temper Trap. The venues are all striking, and this year will include Manchester Cathedral. Various venues, 27 May, from 2pm, tickets £25. See our full preview here

King Street Festival

One of Manchester’s best loved streets is throwing a three-day festival to celebrate its past, present and bright future. More than 50 shops and restaurants are taking part, offering shopping discounts, complimentary nibbles and the odd glass of fizz along the way. If that wasn’t enough, visitors will also have the chance to rest up or play lawn games in a pop up English country garden, while being entertained by music from the likes of jazz and swing band Young Pilgrims and 1940s-inspired band The Bobbysocks. King Street Festival, 28-30 May, free

Fashion and Freedom at Manchester Art Gallery

Breathe In by Toni Martin. Photo: Layla Sailor.
Breathe In by Toni Martin. Photo: Layla Sailor.

Fashion and Freedom looks at the changes to women’s roles and fashions during the First World War. The exhibition explores the impact of the conflict, but instead of putting historic outfits into display cases, the curators asked six leading female fashion designers, including Vivienne Westwood and Holly Fulton, to come up with original pieces inspired by the theme. Don’t miss this extraordinary exhibition. Manchester Art Gallery, 13 May-27 Nov, 10am-5pm, free. Read our full preview here

Chorlton Weekender

As part of the Chorlton Arts Festival, the Weekender returns to one of Manchester’s most popular suburbs, with three days of music in venues throughout the neighbourhood. The three headline acts are Ren Harvieu and Romeo Stodart, The Owiny Sigoma Band and finally PINS. There’s also a huge range of other bands and musicians performing throughout, and this is a great way to see a large amount of live music from both familiar and less-known bands in a relatively short amount of time. Chorlton Weekender, 27-29 May, weekender wristbands, granting access to all three headline events are £25, or individual tickets are available for all events

The Lost Carnival

Woman holding a crystal ball

Following its successful appearance in Bury last year, for the 2016 Spring bank holiday The Lost Carnival is heading to Crewe. Each night, from 4pm until sundown, audiences will be invited into a strange and wonderful theatrical world, to take sides in the battle for supremacy between two families, The Birds and The Ingénues – one dark, twisted and glamorous, the other happy and sparkling, on the surface at least. A large cast of actors and ensembles will provide the entertainment, and this show is fun for all the family. The Lost Carnival, Queen’s park, Crewe, 28-30 May, 4pm-9.30pm. Tickets for adults and children are all £12. Under threes are free but still require a ticket

Ordsall Hall allotment open day

Some of the nicest bank holidays are the ones where you partake in some pleasant daytime activities before heading elsewhere for your evening’s entertainment. Check out your local garden centres and allotments as bank holiday weekends are often when they throw special events, or head over to Ordsall Hall, which is hosting its second World War One allotment open day. The allotment was built with techniques that would have been employed during the war, as well as varieties of vegetables from that time. Stock up on plants for your own garden, sold to you by characters in costume. Ordsall Hall, 29 May, 1-4pm, free. This event also features in our guide to half term for creative kids

Havana Nights at Gorilla

Gorilla have teamed up with Havana Club Rum for an evening of live Cuban music, afro house beats and Latin moves. The evening promises to ebb and flow between the tropical sounds of the live band and the DJs. The venue is having a makeover in honour of the occasion, with indoor palm trees, flower garlands and Cuban flags. Gorilla, 28 May, 8pm-3am, free before 1am, £6 thereafter

Russell Kane at the Lowry

Russell Kane

In this brand new show, Russell Kane unleashes an award-wining performance, demonstrating exactly why nobody will ever be the ‘right’ age: this is the beauty and the curse of being human. The comedian presenter, actor, author and scriptwriter made history as the first comedian to win both the Edinburgh Award and Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Barry award in one year, and now he performs sell-out shows across the globe. We’re lucky to have him here for a flying visit. The Lowry,  28-29 May, 8pm, tickets £17

Supernova Film Festival

This brand new science fiction film festival is the latest project from the folks at Grimm Up North; it’s a fitting follow up to their recent horror festival Grimmfest. Over three days, attendees will be treated to the best of both retro and brand new sci fi. Highlights include a screening of Nicholas Roeg’s masterpiece The Man Who Fell To Earth, starring the recently departed David Bowie of course. Supernova27-30 May, full festival pass £55 or day passes are £25. Read our full preview here

Day trip: Francis Bacon at Tate Liverpool

A bank holiday trip to Liverpool is always a winner, with plenty to do both indoors and out depending on the vagaries of the weather. From the station, head to the docks and Tate Liverpool where you’ll discover Invisible Rooms: the largest ever dedicated show of Francis Bacon’s work ever to appear in the North. The exhibition brings together around 30 large-scale paintings and works on paper, many of which are rarely seen in public, united by the geometric shapes that appear within them. Tate Liverpool, 18 May-18 Sep, tickets: adults £13.20, children under 12 are free. Read our full preview here

Last Chance: Willard Wigan at Central Library

This is your last chance to marvel at the micro sculptures of Willard Wigan: works so minute that they can only be seen through a microscope. Wigan’s art is celebrated in both artistic and scientific circles, and has been described as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. The Through the Eye of a Needle exhibition is a rare opportunity to see this work in Manchester. Central Library, performance Space 1, until 2 June

Culture Guides

Cinema

David Bowie, Japanese classics and some early spooky screenings all feature in this month’s cinema guide.

Exhibitions

Welcome the autumnal season with all of the art goodness that it brings – there are so many brand new exhibitions to see!

Families

As we say bye to the summer holidays and begin to welcome in the cooler months, Manchester’s events and activities continue to bring joy and fun to families.

Kamila Shamsie. Photo Alex von Tunzelman

Literature

There are plenty of online readings and live launches as Manchester and the North welcomes some great writers with book festival season getting underway, and there are loads of new spoken word nights and open mics to check out…

Music

Autumn’s a fine old time for gigs in Manchester and the North. From otherworldly folk to life-affirming soul, here are our top picks for October onwards.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

As the new theatre season gets ready to launch, we champion some of the star performances happening over the next few months.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North as we head into autumn.

Tours and Activities

Every season change is an excuse to try something new, and when it comes to tours and activities, autumn delivers!