Event Radar: February looks fighting fit

Polly Checkland Harding
Photo of blue lasers coming from the ground

From a Sexology season to an intimate Elbow gig, we’ve rounded up the finest Manchester happenings this month.

February is the month when things start to get a little less inhospitable – when snowdrops push up through the grass, and the sky, though cold as contempt, is at least blue. It’s when things start to perk up on the culture front, too, as our lists of the most interesting comedy, music and dance performances prove – and if they aren’t enough to help you get over your January blues, then our little list of the new month’s best happenings certainly should.

Kazuo Ishiguro and Dominic Berry at Central Library

There’s an LGBT and a literary slant to Library Live’s events in February, with two LGBT-orientated screenings as well as a highlight event from performance poet Dominic Berry. These events are all part of the ongoing programme, which sees Kazuo Ishiguro reading at Central Library in March. (An Evening With Dominic Berry, 24 Feb)

Matthew Halsall and other animals at RNCM

A menagerie-sounding bill at the Royal Northern College of Music sees rising star of European jazz, Matthew Halsall, joined by Manchester-based, Mercury Prize-nominated band GoGo Penguin, as well as the critically acclaimed Mammal Hands, for a night inspired by Alice and John Coltrane. Jazz hands! (Matthew Halsall & The Godwana Orchestra, RNCM, 7 Feb)

Chinese Whispers at CFCCA

Signalling the closing weeks of video artist Chris Paul Daniels’ exhibition at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art is an evening performance from north west-based sound artists Naomi Kashiwagi, Rosanne Robertson and Kelly Jayne Jones. These three artists have worked on their response to Daniels’ work for a month, resulting in a live score that Daniels himself will remix his film to on the night. (Call & Response: Chinese Whispers, CFCCA, 11 Feb)

Have an LGBT Valentine’s

Activist Peter Tatchell kicks off a full day of events at Central Library on 14 February, as part of the wider LGBT History Festival (9 Feb–15 Feb). Tatchell will be speaking about Dr. Vaernet, a Nazi who was authorised by the head of the gestapo to experiment on gay concentration camp prisoners and who later escaped prosecution due to the collusion of the Danish and British governments. (Carl Vaernet – The Nazi Doctor Who Escaped Justice, Central Library, 14 Feb)

Day trippin’ to Blackpool for Showzam!

The circus is coming to Blackpool town – not just any circus, either. The 14 extraordinary performers who are part of Circolumbia all come from a tough start on the streets of Cali in Columbia – now, they perform feats that are among the most challenging on the circus scene. Circolumbia is part of Showzam!, a four day festival that will bring giant beasts, bearded ladies and a disco-rave milk float to the streets and buildings of Blackpool. Make a day trip of it. (Showzam!, various venues, Blackpool, 14-18 Feb)

Don’t look back in anger at First Draft

Cabaret night First Draft is back for its first event in 2015, where writers*, poets, comedians and those not so easily defined take on the theme ‘In Retrospect’. Whether they end up drawing from their own memories, or someone else’s, will be revealed during a night of new work, hosted in the Castle Hotel pub’s back room. (First Draft, Castle Hotel, 16 Feb) *Including, um, me.

Sexology Salon at Manchester Art Gallery

One of the highlight events for the Wellcome Collection’s impressive Sexology Season in Manchester, the Sexology Salon includes a ‘Private Erotica in Public Places’ tour of the gallery with curator Kate Jesson, who will be joined by a sexologist, as well as ‘Frocks and Sex’, where fashion designer turned scientist Helen Storey will explore sexuality and sensuality in fashion, in conversation with Miles Lambert and Caryn Franklin. There’s also an accompanying display of four dresses accompanying the event, which will remain at the gallery until 1 March. (Sexology Salon, Manchester Art Gallery, 19 Feb)

Beth Orton at Band on the Wall

From Brighter Sound, the team behind the Everything Everything residency at Central Library, comes a new project: singer-songwriter Beth Orton will be collaborating with 13 specially selected female musicians for a week of music-making at Band on the Wall, culminating in live finale event, for which tickets are already on sale. Don’t miss out! (Beth Orton residency finale, Band on the Wall, 20 Feb)

Elbow as you’ll never see them again

Elbow return to The Roadhouse, where they performed their first ever gig, for a stripped back, intimate show with an audience of only 200 people. Part of a week of one-off events organised by O2 in collaboration with War Child, tickets for this show are only available through a lottery: each entry costs £4.50, with profits going to the charity. Good luck… (Elbow, The Roadhouse, 24 Feb)

Season’s Eatings come to Kosmonaut

One of our absolute favourite supper clubs in the city, Season’s Eatings has been cultivating a steadily growing reputation for stunning food. Now, chefs Issy Jenkins and Suzy Owen are coming to Kosmonaut for one night only, serving four winter-inspired courses accompanied by a special drinks menu from the mixologists at the bar. We love a good feast. (Season’s Eatings at Kosmonaut, 25 Feb)

FutureEverything Opening Gala

FutureEverything Festival is back – and, to kick it off is a double-bill event at RNCM. A newly commissioned sound and light performance by digital artist Memo Akten, featuring 16 percussionists, will be accompanied by The Well by Emmanuel Biard for this unique evening. The Well uses “laser mirror and new lighting structures” alongside music to create a stunning, multi-sensory performance – and you’re all invited. (FutureEverything Opening Gala, RNCM, 25 Feb)

A night at St George’s Hall

Time for a trip to Liverpool, for a spectacular-sounding evening at St George’s Hall. Following a welcome drink and three course buffet dinner, guests will be able to immerse themselves in up to four different themed tours, for which over 30 professional actors will bring characters from the city’s past to life in some of the Hall’s more unusual spaces. Something more unusual to do after dark. (A night at St George’s Hall, 27 Feb)

Carnival of Souls at Cornerhouse

Last, but by no means least, experience a film without its visuals at Cornerhouse. For this adaptation of Herk Harvey’s experimental horror film Carnival of Souls the audience will be supplied with eye masks and wireless headsets that incorporate binaural audio, a technique that gives the listener the impression that the sounds are happening all around them. Become fully immersed in a sleepy Utah town where something sinister waits among the ruins of a former pleasure ground. (Carnival of Souls, Cornerhouse, 27 Feb)

Culture Guides

Exhibitions

Pause in the hustle and bustle of festive prep to take in some inspiration from this month’s top exhibitions.

The Ocean at the End of The Lane at the lowry

Families

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Manchester is bursting with fun, family activities to keep the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas!

Writer Nicholas Royle. Photo by Zoe McLean

Literature

There are spooky stories, Christmas crime thrillers and plenty of books for stocking fillers as December unfolds and Manchester and the wider North region switches on the live literature lights.

Music

The festive season is here, and whether you want to escape it or embrace it, we’ve got you covered.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

Contemporary cabaret, powerful monologues and world premiere musicals. Our theatre guide spans the festive season and beyond.

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 for autumn.

Backyard Cinema

Cinema

It only takes a quick glance at the film listings to realise that Christmas is coming, and quick. We’ve rounded up some of our festive highlights alongside standout seasons and festivals.

Tours and Activities

We’re deep into Autumn now but don’t let that stop you from finding a new tour or activity to get stuck into.

Things to do right now

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3 December 2022 10:00 am, FREE

Winter Art and Craft Fair at Heart

Activity Until 3 December 2022, from £35.00

Wreath Making Workshop at Leeds City Museum

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022
Cinema Until 4 December 2022, from £5

HOME Artist Film Weekender 2022

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals Until 4 December 2022, FREE

Lightwaves at Salford Quays

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre
Families Until 11 December 2022, from £27.00

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre

Music Until 17 December 2022, from £5

RNCM Autumn Season

Flecky Bennett’s HALLOWEEN 2018 Ghost Walk
Activity Until 17 December 2022, from £15

Flecky Bennett’s Ghost Walks