Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

Events for readers meet events for writers, with plenty of book launches, open mics, literature festivals, writing conferences and poetry showcases to pop into your diary for the remainder of September pushing into October, both online and in person.

Flapjack-run Word Central is back in real life at Central Library on 27 September with Gus Jonsson headlining – also pop 20 September in your diary, when WC host Tony Curry introduces An Evening Out With Flapjack Press at The Edge theatre as part of Chorlton Book Festival (which runs in person and online 19-24 September – more here), with performers including Rose Condo, Rob Steventon, Anna Percy, Thick Richard and Geneviève L Walsh.

Saturday 18 September sees words in the woods as Poetry Reverb heads into the great outdoors once more with a showcase of talent at the Into The Wild coffee shack just outside Altrincham. The Coalition open mic poetry and prose night rocks up again at Stockport’s Petersgate Tap on 30 September (it’s every last Thursday of the month) and Speak Easy returns to Dulcimer in Chorlton on 7 October, coinciding happily with National Poetry Day. Also back IRL is Verbose, following its recent Levenshulme Pride show and Seven Bro7hers pop-up with a return to the usual last Monday of the month from 25 October, but at new venue King’s Arms on the cusp of Salford and Manchester city centre.

Author and DJ Dave Haslam continues on his multiple-date book tour, including heading Sheffield way on 21 September (all the dates are in our preview here). He’s launching All You Need is Dynamite: Acid, the Angry Brigade, and the End of the Sixties, the fifth book to join the “Art Decades” series, out with Manchester-based Confingo Publishing. Fellow Manchester indie Carcanet Press are continuing to run their book launches by the magic of Zoom: Jane Duran and Sheri Benning pick up the torch on 22 and 29 September respectively, with the launch of Poems And Satires by Edna St Vincent Millay, newly published as a Carcanet Classic, edited by Tristram Fane Saunders chatting to poet Abigail Parry on 6 October. Gabriel Josipovici follows on 27 October.

Meanwhile, Comma Press author Sarah Schofield launches her new collection at a special short story showcase that also features Lucie McKnight Hardy and Vanessa Onwuemezi, taking place at Blackwell’s Bookshop on 13 October, hotly pursued by Jenn Ashworth and Kylie Whitehead in conversation on 19 October (we’ll have more on their events programme lined up for the autumn here soon). The first HarperNorth event takes place on 28 September as Tony Redmond launches his new title in conjunction with EJ Morten Booksellers in Didsbury.

Back in real life in Wigan is the Write Out Loud open mic (the longest running open mic poetry night in Wigan, in fact) on 14 October, while in Liverpool A Lovely Word returns to the Bistro at the Everyman on Hope Street, 8pm on 7 October with UK Poetry Slam Champion 2020 Tyrone Lewis, followed by a Homotopia special on 28 October (note that this is a week early), then 2 December.

Also in Liverpool, The Reader’s Spoken Word at the Mansion House in Calderstones Park enjoys another outing on 23 September – with Saint Vespaluus curating a line-up featuring Beija Flo, Louise Evans, Mark J and poet Jennifer Lee Tsai. The Reader’s weekly Poetry Walks and Shared Reading groups also continue afoot, and there’s a new interactive map to follow either the Literature Trail or the Heritage Trail (or indeed both!), so if you like your literature served with a side order of inspiring surroundings, find out more here.

On the festival front, the eighth Northern Lights Writers’ Conference takes place at Waterside Arts on 25 September with keynote speaker Kate Mosse, and the European Poetry Festival’s European Camarade returns to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on 1 October. Also for your diary: Lancaster Litfest runs online 7 to 12 October, and features readings by Man Met’s Kim Moore; Manchester Literature Festival returns in the autumn, offering events both online and in real life, with some tickets already on sale (MLF Live will run 8 to 17 October, with MLF Digital following from 1 to 14 November), and the Corridor of Light and Language is chalked up for 21 to 23 October. More on those soon…

The Elizabeth Gaskell’s House book sale is running monthly, so get your place booked as soon as possible, and check out our Guide To Bookshops In Manchester. Guided tours are back at Chetham’s Library, the Portico is the place to go to see the Refloresta! exhibition by world-renowned Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno (on until November), and the Pankhurst Centre has reopened. And don’t forget to scroll down for more events and activities, or see our literary guides to LiverpoolLeeds, Sheffield and Cumbria if you’re venturing further afield.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Northern Lights Writers’ Conference 2021 at Waterside and online

    Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2021
    Author Kate Mosse. Photo by Ruth Crafer.

    Northern Lights Writers Conference at Waterside Arts, Manchester, Until 30 September 2021, from £7.50 - Book now

    For writers at all stages of their career, from the unpublished to those already established with words in print, the Creative Industries Trafford Northern Lights Writers’ Conference is perfect for picking up tips and useful contacts in the publishing world – and you can choose to attend the eighth NLWC on Saturday 25 September, with workshops continuing into the following week, virtually or in real life, at CIT’s Waterside base.

  • 2. European Poetry Festival European Camarade at International Anthony Burgess Foundation

    European Poetry Festival European Camarade
    Poet SJ Fowler.

    European Poetry Festival European Camarade at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester, 1 October 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    The unique annual European Camarade is back, on 1 October, bringing together some of the finest modern poets of the thriving Manchester scene with writers from across Europe to create brand-new work especially for the night.

  • 3. Trouble At’ Mill: Queen’s Mill Word Fest in Castleford

    Toria Garbutt
    Poet Toria Garbutt. Photo by Emma Aylett.

    Trouble At' Mill: Queen’s Mill Word Fest, 2 October 2021, from £14 - Book now

    Trouble At’ Mill: Queen’s Mill Word Fest is a new literary festival taking place on Saturday 2 October in Castleford, on the banks of the River Aire near Leeds, featuring acclaimed spoken word performers Toria Garbutt and Matt Abbott alongside others.

  • 4. Lucie McKnight Hardy, Vanessa Onwuemezi and Sarah Schofield at Blackwell’s

    Sarah Schofield
    Author Sarah Schofield.

    Short Stories: Lucie McKnight Hardy, Vanessa Onwuemezi & Sarah Schofield., 13 October 2021, from £5 - Book now

    Join Lucie McKnight Hardy, Vanessa Onwuemezi and Sarah Schofield at Blackwell’s bookshop on 13 October for a short story extravaganza as they each launch collections with a touch of the uncanny – perfectly timed as the nights draw in and Halloween shuffles about just around the corner.

  • 5. The Book Of Barcelona online launch

    Zoë Turner
    The Book Of Barcelona, Comma Press.

    The Book of Barcelona launch event, 16 October 2021, from £3 - Book now

    The Book Of Barcelona online launch on 16 October sees Manchester-based publisher Comma Press join forces with Leeds’ The Northern Short Story Festival to present the latest Reading The City anthology, in collaboration with the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester and Leeds.

More in Literature

Literature Until 5 February 2025, FREE

The Little Library in Spinningfields

Take your pick from The Little Library’s carefully curated collection of classics and new releases, adding a recently read book of your own as a replacement.

Literature Until 31 October 2021, FREE

Raw Milk online

With the support of Manchester Independents, Kate Feld’s project is a chronicle of the writer’s experiences during the winter of 2020-21, documenting a single mother’s lived experience of the structural inequalities laid bare by the pandemic and offering a harrowing case study of how capitalism fails women.

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 12 December 2021, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and award-winning garden is a must-see, with the famous book sale back on 18 April and scheduled thereafter for 9 May, 13 June, 11 July, 8 August, 12 September, 10 October, 14 November and 12 December 2021, 11am-4pm.

Literature Until 11 December 2021, FREE

Leeds Record & Book Fair at Kirkgate Market

Every second Saturday of the month, Leeds Record & Book Fair is indoors at Kirkgate Market, one of Europe’s largest indoor markets. Next dates are 14 August, 11 September, 9 October, 13 November and 11 December.

The Edge Reopening Season
Comedy Until 18 December 2021, from £6

The Edge Reopening Season

Live theatre returns to The Edge this September and the opening season promises to be one to remember when its doors open for the first time in 18 months, and to a completely refurbished building.

Literature 30 September 2021 5:00 pm,

Writing workshop with poet Matt Abbott at Chapel FM Arts Centre, Leeds

Poet Matt Abbott leads a free creative writing workshop for young people under the age of 26.

Luke Wright’s The Ballad Seller at The Edge
Literature 14–15 October 2021, from £12.00

Luke Wright’s The Ballad Seller at The Edge

Join the poet and theatre-maker for an inventive and energetic night of spoken word, as he presents five long-form ballads from Georgian England.

Literature 15–17 October 2021, from £14.00

Lakes International Comic Art Festival

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is back in the Cumbrian town of Kendal, bigger and better than ever, and with plenty of storytelling treats in both words and pictures.

Culture Guides

Cinema in Manchester and the North

Black History Month, spooky screenings and the return of film festivals all feature in this month’s cinema guide.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North


Rewilding, the importance of play, and subverting the male gaze – this month’s exhibition highlights propel us into the gallery-going season.

What the Ladybird Heard at The Lowry


As we welcome in the autumn season and live entertainment returns to Manchester, there are so many activities to do with kids of all ages. Here’s our round-up of some of the best family activities and fun days out taking place in the coming weeks.

Baxter Dury


We’re now well into gig season and it’s proving to be a special one, with artists and audiences giving it their all. From atmospheric electronica to taut post-punk, there’s a whole lot to dig into in our new music guide.

Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre: Season of Dance


Dark comedies, dance world premieres and celebratory reopening seasons feature in this month’s eclectic pick of live theatre happening across the North.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

A guide to Food and Drink in Manchester and the North, including plenty of new bars and restaurants and exciting new menus from old favourites.

Tours and Activities

Summer is here and we’re so excited to be out in the world touring, making, playing and doing all the things Manchester and the North has to offer.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts