The best lectures, talks & meetups in Manchester: Make life more interesting

Andrew Anderson
Black chairs lined up

From incredible free talks and encounters with moon rock through to literature and philosophy debates – the best regular events in Manchester.

There’s an old piece of wisdom that says “a problem shared is a problem halved”. That might be true, but here at Creative Tourist we have our own coinage: “double the company, double the fun”. With that soon-to-be ubiquitous phrase in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite clubs, groups and societies, for meeting like-minded people and discovering more about art, astronomy, and much more.

Manchester Astronomical Society

Not to be confused with astrology (when I mistakenly told friends I was off to an astrology meeting thought I was joining a cult), the Manchester Astronomical Society holds monthly lectures open to the public in the John Dalton Building at Manchester Metropolitan University. The quality of the speakers is simply astounding, with specialists on the cutting edge of interstellar research coming along to share their work. When I was there I got to handle an actual piece of moon rock – and if you join the society you get to use their amazing telescope at the Godlee Observatory in the city centre, which is a marvel in itself. John Dalton Building, MMU, 7.30pm. Free

Lunchtime Art Bites

The art gallery actually has quite a few groups associated with it, but the most interesting is Lunchtime Art Bites. Show up at 12:30pm every Wednesday to meet with other people interested in art. Two paintings are discussed at each session, and the chat is always lively – especially after a couple of cups of coffee. Manchester Art Gallery, 12.30pm every Wednesday. Free

betternotstop

Hannah Cox, the club’s founder, was inspired to start betternotstop after she moved to Manchester a few years back. “I realised I didn’t have people to meet up and do interesting things with,” she says. “It’s easy to feel disconnected and isolated in modern life, and this is a way of getting round that and making real connections.” As well as meeting for regular guest talks and film nights, they also organise day trips and other activities. You’ll soon find that Hannah’s enthusiasm for life is infectious.

Superbia

Superbia is an on-going series of community and culture events organised by Manchester Pride. Includes the intellectual stimulation of lectures and theatre productions, as well as let-your-hair-down fun, like music nights and cake baking competitions. Superbia is the perfect way to introduce yourself to Manchester’s thriving LGBT community.

Manchester Centre for Regional History

With the free talks organised by the regional history department at MMU, you never know quite what you’re going to get – or what unusual facts will be unearthed. The talks are a great place to go for tea, biscuits and a chat with both history buffs and those with a casual interest.

Modernist Society

As well as putting out a must-read mag, the Manchester Modernist Society organise regular events and activities. If you’ve got even a passing interest in design, city planning or architecture, this is the group for you. A recent screening of films about Hulme (where I live) was one of the most informative evenings I’ve had in a long time. Also look out for the magazine launch nights, which usually involve a few glasses of wine and a lot of impassioned chatter.

SCI Seminar Series

It seems like we all want to live a greener life, but we’re never quite sure where to start. Well, the SCI Seminar Series will tell you. Organised by the Sustainable Consumption Institute at Manchester University, this monthly lecture series gets down to the finicky details of going green as well as addressing wider environmental issues.

Gaskell Society

For fans of Elizabeth Gaskell’s work, as well as those interested in her life and proto-feminist leanings, these talks in both Manchester and Knutsford are a must. Regular guest lecturers unpack the meaning and significance of her writing, and the Manchester meetings are held in the striking surrounds of the Cross Street Chapel, where Gaskell’s husband William was minister.

People’s History Museum

Of all Manchester’s many magnificent museums the PHM seems to be the best at events for young families. Whether designing your own banknote, fashioning a sculpture from recycled material or engaging in a story-telling session, there’s something going on at least once a month and often every week. Sessions are somewhat irregular though, so you have to keep an eye on the events section of their website.

Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society

For those who like to put their brain through some serious paces, there’s the Manchester Literature & Philosophical Society. Running since 1781, this group meet up to discuss – you guessed it – literature and philosophy. However, some more light-hearted offerings, like an upcoming lecture on the history of lesser-known small ball games, are also in the schedule.

Culture Guides

Cinema

January brings a focus on women-centric cinema, classic revivals and international hits.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh: making the Glasgow Style at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool

Exhibitions

On the brink of the new year, here’s a couple of the major exhibitions and smaller gems we’re looking forward to in 2019.

A World Inside A Book courtesy Suzi Corker

Families

January ain’t dull. Create with light, become forensic archeologists, sculpt with mud, step inside books and find a giant piglet with a coat made from dosh.

Literature

January, February, March, April, even May… we’ve plenty for you to look forward to live literature wise as 2019 unfolds – from performance poetry and soundscapes to readings from magazines, memoirs and award-winning short stories.

Music

Ranging from electronica to indie, this month’s music guide features some of the most singular voices in contemporary music.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

Five-star musicals, acclaimed site-specific performances and two-week-long eclectic arts festivals? There’s nothing dry about January.

Tours and Activities

Explore the other side of Manchester’s performing arts, as this month, we highlight some of the best tours of the city’s theatres, venues and concert halls.

Things to do right now

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Cheese Making at Food Sorcery
Activity 19–20 January 2019, from £100

Cheese Making at Food Sorcery

Mandy Barker: Hong Kong Soup at CFCCA Manchester
Exhibitions 12 October 2018–20 January 2019, FREE

Mandy Barker: Hong Kong Soup at CFCCA

Charwei Tsai: Bulaubulau at CFCCA
Exhibitions 12 October 2018–20 January 2019, FREE

Charwei Tsai: Bulaubulau at CFCCA

ReFrame at Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibitions 20 October 2018–20 January 2019, FREE

ReFrame at Manchester Art Gallery

Cinema 7 December 2018–20 January 2019, from £5

Slapstick Film Season at HOME

HOME at Christmas
Festivals 13 December 2017–20 January 2019,

HOME at Christmas

PUSH Festival 2019 at HOME
Festivals 11–26 January 2019,

PUSH Festival 2019 at HOME

LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY at Site Gallery
Exhibitions 29 September 2018–27 January 2019, FREE

LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY at Site Gallery

Craft Beer Tour Around Manchester
Food and Drink 1 November 2018–1 February 2019, from £30

Craft Beer Tour Around Manchester

Exhibitions 12 January–1 February 2019, FREE

Motion Sickness at STOCK Gallery

The Producers - A Mel Brooks Musical at the Royal Exchange
Music 30 November 2018–2 February 2019, from £10.00

The Producers – A Mel Brooks Musical at the Royal Exchange