Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

December is well and truly in our sights and we have some great events lined up for those readers who have been good this year – read on to find out about the gifts we’ve wrapped up for you…

Murmur is back in the Northern Quarter on Sunday 9 December, welcoming leading contemporary video artist and poet Ed Atkins (last in the Rainy City in 2015 for Manchester International Festival, with Performance Capture, a specially commissioned show co-curated by then MIF Director Alex Poots). He will be showcasing his forthcoming novel, Old Food, which isn’t out until November 2019 – so this is your chance to grab a sneak peek before anyone else. Murmur #7 adds visual artist, filmmaker and writer Fatema Abdoolcarim to the line-up, and there will be music from SMS DJs.

Now in the last throes of her Poet Laureate reign (she is due to step down next year), Carol Ann Duffy hosts the last of her & Friends series of 2018 on 10 December, featuring readings by award-winning House Poets John Fennelly and Mark Pajak, and chat and a performance by special guest Zaffar Kunial, just announced as being in the running for the Costa Book Award and also shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, the winner of which will be revealed by Ian McMillan in January. The head of Manchester Writing School will be back in the New Year – we’re looking forward to hearing from Kate Fox, appearing in March.

Also on 10 December (you’ll just have to pick – it’s also the last-ever Evidently at The Eagle Inn!), it’s the annual Centre for New Writing Literature Live event in memory of graduate Caroline Chisholm, which this time welcomes highly acclaimed and multi-award-winning Ross Raisin, author of three novels, numerous short stories, and named as both The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.

On 12 December, No Matter is back in The Castle, for its fourth bi-monthly showcase of avant poetry talent. Always highlighting three headliners, this one features Dostoyevsky Wannabe-published writer Emma Bolland, editor of Poetry Wales magazine and co-organiser of the recent two-day Poetry Emergency festival Nia Davies, and Rebecca Tamás, whose new collection comes out soon with Penned in the Margins and has been selected as a Poetry Book Society recommendation for spring 2019, so definitely one to watch. It’s free in, but bring your pocket money purse to spend big at the book table…

If you fancy a trip to the Big Smoke, head to the Royal Albert Hall on 17 December, when the That’s What She Said: End of Year Special has a fab line-up, including award-winning literary hero Rosie Garland and iconic author Salena Godden. Can’t make it? No worries, it’s back in Manchester in February with its first show of 2019 – find out more here.

Christmas shopping? We’ve got you covered with our guide to independent outlets – Chorlton Bookshop, Magma Books and HOME are all included, and some even stock anthologies and graphic novels featured in this very guide throughout the year.

And before you go, be sure to scurry on down to our “More in Literature” stories below the picks plus our guide to the UNESCO City of Literature, which brings together details of some of our favourite bookworm-friendly go-tos, including Chet’s Library – check out the monthly Chet’s Library Unscripted tours on 6 December, 17 January and 14 February, perfect for a wander amid the wood-panelled rooms and book-lined galleries of the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.

And if you fancy venturing further afield, then our tips for trips include must-go Literary Places in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Cumbria.

Here are our picks

  • 1. No Matter #4 at The Castle

    Poet Nia Davies at No Matter #4.
    Writer Nia Davies.

    No Matter #4, 12 December 2018, free entry - Find Out More

    The fourth No Matter features three headliners: Dostoyevsky Wannabe-published writer Emma Bolland, editor of Poetry Wales magazine Nia Davies and Rebecca Tamás, whose new collection comes out with Penned in the Margins in 2019.

  • 2. PN Review Winter Launch at Castlefield Gallery

    Poet André Naffis-Sahely.

    PN Review Winter Launch at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield, 23 January 2019, from £0.00 - Book now

    Manchester-based poetry and criticism magazine PN Review celebrates its latest issue with a special launch event showcasing six of its talented contributors, including poet, critic and translator André Naffis-Sahely, currently visiting teaching fellow at Manchester Met’s Writing School.

  • 3. Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op at The Old Abbey Taphouse

    Poet Andrew McMillan. Photo Ursula Soltys.
    Poet Andrew McMillan. Photo Ursula Soltys.

    Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op at The Old Abbey Taphouse, Manchester, 24 January 2019, free entry - Find Out More

    The Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op is back for a second get-together, welcoming some of Manchester’s finest writers to read poetry and pop lyrics – this time round, headliners include multi-award-winning poet Andrew McMillan.

  • 4. Manchester Indie Book Fair at Burgess Foundation

    Dead Ink publisher Nathan Connolly, with Blue the Dead Ink dog.

    Manchester Indie Book Fair 2 at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester, 2 February 2019, free entry - Find Out More

    Manchester-based publishers Dostoyevsky Wannabe organises a second pop-up of lovely stalls where you can pick up lots of lovely books, pamphlets and zines by the North’s finest indie presses, from And Other Stories to ZimZalla.

  • 5. That’s What She Said featuring Jess Green at Tribeca

    Writer and performer Jess Green.
    Writer and performer Jess Green.

    That's What She Said at Tribeca, Manchester, 7 February 2019, from £3 - Book now

    Critically acclaimed showcase of the best new writing by women and non-binary writers, That’s What She Said returns to Manchester with its first show of 2019, featuring performances from BBC Poetry Slam Champion Jess Green and spoken word artist Roz Weaver.


More in Literature

Activity 15 December 2018, FREE

Spanish Story Time at Central Library

Through the story and pictures from a well loved children’s book, Maria will explore a theme in Spanish letting her love of the language inspire young minds.

Living Library: A self-guided tour behind the scenes at Chetham's Library
Activity 13 January 2019, from £10

Living Library: A self-guided tour behind the scenes at Chetham’s Library

Chetham’s Library is opening it’s doors to visitors for a self guided behind the scenes tour. Discover this medieval gem in the heart of Manchester in your own time.

Literature 14 January 2019, FREE

Book club – D’après une histoire vraie by Delphine de Vigan at Alliance Française

Take part in an informal discussion with like minded literature enthusiasts at Alliance Française. Their monthly book club is a great place to share ideas on a given text.

Literature 9 February 2019, from £8

QC 19: Outspoken at No 70

Outspoken is back for LGBT History Month, with an afternoon of poetry and spoken word performance hosted by Mandla-Rae, Manchester poet and former young programmer, and featuring Ella Otomewo, Billie Meredith, Maz Hedgehog and Bryony Bates.

Families 5–7 July 2019, from £70

Timber Festival 2019

An extraordinary new festival where music, art, philosophy and sustainability weave together into an exhilarating weekend in the heart of the National Forest, one of Britain’s boldest environmental projects.

Culture Guides

Ren Hang: Wake Up Together at Open Eye Gallery


Tubism, pottery, same-sex intimacy and art education; this month’s Exhibitions Guide has it all. (Even a tentative mention of Christmas.)


Luminous adventures, festive fixes, Drag Queen Storytime and New Year’s Eve parties with nippers to book now for … look no further for the best things to do with kids.


This month’s music guide features some of the most exciting underground artists from around the world, as well as homegrown Manchester talent.

Theatre in Manchester and the North


Contemporary circus, slapstick comedy, burlesque and immersive dining. Our theatre guide spans the festive season and beyond.


It’s almost that most wonderful time of the year and there’s all kinds of festive programming and counter-programming in the cinemas of Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

This month we are highlighting some of the top multilingual tours and activities Manchester has to offer.