August Bank Holiday Weekend things to do chiharu-shiota-photo-sunhi-mang-copyright-vg-bild-kunst-bonn-2017-and-the-artist
Chiharu Shiota. Photo by Sunhi Mang. Copyright vg bild kunst bonn 2017 and the artist

August Bank Holiday in Manchester and the North

Ben Williams

August bank holiday is a sort of bookend to the summer, and, for some, there’s a faint whiff of melancholy in the air. Tesco and ASDA have launched their back to school advertising arms race and those idyllic days of whittling away the hours in front of the smug kids from Why Don’t You? are numbered.

But wait, this isn’t the early 90’s, I’ve not been a student for a long time and Mr Bronson’s Grange Hill bastardry never inspired me to become a teacher. Like most adults, my summers are pretty much just like my autumns and winters, so let’s break the monotony and approach this August bank holiday weekend in the only sensible way possible… Let’s grasp this free day away from the rat race and make a sustained assault on the citadel of good times.

Thanks to our devil-may-care approach to the environment, this brief interlude of cloud seems a mere blip in an otherwise endless summer. It’s Pride Weekend in Manchester, there’s bees in the city and cultural adventures to be had. So, why don’t you just switch off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead?

Here are our picks

  • 1. Wild Swimming

    Last call for the summer? Let’s hope not, but if the weather holds, it’s likely to be one of your last chances to (comfortably) swim outdoors in the North.

  • 2. Oi Polloi

    Oi Polloi

    Oi Polloi, 63 Thomas Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LQ - Visit now

    What do savvy shoppers who want sharp threads with an urban edge do on a bank holiday weekend? Get themselves to Oi Polloi of course. That autumn wardrobe isn’t going to buy itself.

  • 3. Wild Worlds Festival at Chester Zoo

    Wild Worlds festival at Chester Zoo

    Wild Worlds at Chester Zoo, 26 May–30 September 2018, from £20 - Book now

    Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe it’s true. Art, science, music, performers. Inspired by the incredible and unique worlds of animals and plants, this mind-blowing celebration will have you discovering something new at every turn.

  • 4. Lest We Forget? at Imperial War Museum North

    War Horse at the New London Theatre. Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg. Courtesy of IWM North. Lest We Forget
    War Horse at the New London Theatre. Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg. Courtesy of IWM North

    Lest We Forget? at Imperial War Museum North (IWM North), Manchester, 27 July 2018–24 February 2019, free entry - Visit now

    Head over to The Quays for Lest We Forget, the first instalment of a major new season of exhibitions, music, dance, talks and events at IWM London and IWM North exploring how the First World War has shaped society today. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat when you’re there, we highly recommend Pier Eight at The Lowry.

  • 5. Journeys of the Imagination at Quarry Bank

    Courtesy David Watson

    Journeys of the Imagination at Quarry Bank, Cheshire, 5 May–28 October 2018, from £Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members) - Visit now

    Pack your bags for an adventure as you discover the incredible journeys made by the people of Quarry Bank in an interactive trail.

  • 6. Beer Gardens in Manchester

    Now, when we say beer gardens, we’re not talking about the behemoth biergartens of Bavaria, so don’t get your lederhosen in a twist. These are some of our favorite places to drink outdoors in Manchester. Some big, some small and all better with a belly full of beer and safe in the knowledge that Monday is all yours to spend in bed.

  • 7. Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

    If you’re going to be drinking, don’t forget to eat! Some people say ‘eating’s cheating’, but those people are most probably younger than you and can still handle it. Here’s what our Food & Drink Editor has been tucking into recently.

  • 8. Summer in Stoke-on-Trent

    big feast summer in stoke on trent
    Appetite, The Big Feast Festival 2018

    Summer in Stoke-on-Trent, 1 August–30 September 2018, free entry - Visit now

    Catch The Poppies in Stoke this summer. Home to a wealth of world-class visitor attractions, award-winning museums, exceptional gardens, five Victorian parks and the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever to be found; Stoke-on-Trent (affectionately nicknamed The Potteries) is bursting with an inspired programme of cultural activity this summer.

  • 9. Liverpool Biennial 2018 – Beautiful world, where are you?

    Paul Elliman, QUERTY_PE, 2012. Courtesy of the artist

    Liverpool Biennial 2018, 14 July–28 October 2018, free entry - Visit now

    If there’s one thing you do this summer, we strongly recommend you hop on a train and make your way over to the 10th edition of the ever-popular Liverpool Biennial – ‘Beautiful world, where are you?’ – a city-wide festival of new and exciting contemporary art from around the world. Check out our weekend guide to Liverpool Biennial and make sure you see it all in style.

  • 10. Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2018 Guide

    Chiharu Shiota –Uncertain Journey, 2016, Blainsouthern Berlin, Germany. Installation metal frames red wool. Photo Christian Gglaaser. Copyright Vgbildkunstbonn 2017 and the artist. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
    © VG Bild Kunst and the artist

    Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2018, 1 January 2018–24 February 2019, free entry - Visit now

    Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s 2018 programme of international contemporary art has left us itching to get out of the city and back to one of our all-time-favourite places. We recommend this every bank holiday, do you know why? Because it’s fantastic and you’ll love it.  While you’re there, it would be criminal not jump in the car and check out Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror at The Hepworth too.

  • 11. Elisabeth Frink: Fragility and Power at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

    Elisabeth Frink - Walking Madonna- © Frink Estate and Archive executors. Courtesy of The Ingram Collection, Image © JP Bland 2016. Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Fragility and Power, Kendal, Cumbria
    Elisabeth Frink, Walking Madonna © Frink Estate and Archive executors. Courtesy of The Ingram Collection, Image © JP Bland 2016

    Elisabeth Frink: Fragility and Power at Abbot Hall, Cumbria, 22 June–29 September 2018, free entry - Visit now

    If you make it out the The Lakes this long weekend, don’t spend the entire time walking up and down hills like a sheep. There’s cracking restaurants in Cumbria and exhibitions to be enjoyed too. Featuring a number of pieces which have never been seen before in public, ‘Elisabeth Frink: Fragility and Power’ at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal delves into the life and work of one of the most widely-loved, exciting and individual sculptors of the 20th century.

  • 12. Top places to go rural (without leaving Manchester)

    Disley, home to Lyme Park. Image by Dave Dunford via Wikimedia Commons

    A bank holiday weekend wouldn’t be a bank holiday weekend without at least thinking about going outside and doing something wholesome. I mean, you’re not really a parent unless you drag a resentful child away from Fortnight and march them around a country estate with a face like a wet weekend.

    Anyway, you’ve thought about it, that’s probably enough. Here’s another link to the beer gardens. You’re welcome.