Creative Tourist

There are loads of things to do in March in Manchester and across the North.

In theatre, Back To The Future The Musical at Manchester Opera House continues to make audiences party like it’s 1985 (or should that be 1955?). Figs in Wigs bring a pleasing blend of fierce feminist performance art, dance and avant-garde humour to HOME with Little Wimmin, where you can also see cult cabaret duo Bourgeois and Maurice’s time-travelling comedy Insane Animals. Staged in a former cotton exchange, Rockets and Blue Lights is an award-winning play that confronts an ugly time in history head-on. Then finally RNCM Opera presents a daring adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, by composer Jonathan Dove and librettist Alasdair Middleton.

In Halifax, Alice Irwin’s giant sculptures at The Piece Hall embody a spirit of play, early innocence and imagination. Yet, People Play also has a more serious side. Gallery Oldham presents a nationally touring exhibition of photographs by Yorkshire-born Syd Shelton, capturing the legendary Rock Against Racism movement. Welsh artist Phoebe Davies presents a new body of work at Sheffield’s Site Gallery inspired by her time spent with a group of teenage female wrestlers. The High Dam at The Tetley in Leeds is the latest new work by upcoming artist Emii Alrai. Towards the end of March, Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here opens at Manchester Art Gallery and marks the only UK stop of a major touring retrospective dedicated to the American feminist artist.

Picturehouse at FACT’s cult strand goes back to the 80s with a mini-season of films by cult auteur, David Lynch. In a similar vein, Grimmfest presents a celebration of David Cronenberg at Stockport Plaza — think you can handle a day-long session? Head to Sheffield’s Reel Steel Cult Weekender Film Festival for three days of action, justice-dealing cyborgs and Studio Ghibli — including rare 35mm screenings.

It’s a great month for classical music with stand-out concerts from BBC Philharmonic who begin March with Beethoven – Mass in C Major, bridging church and concert hall better than almost any other work. The Halle take us Beyond the Score with a breathtaking multimedia experience of Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony. Elsewhere, virtuoso pianist Benjamin Powell joins the Northern Chamber Orchestra for an exciting programme of Shostakovich, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Handel.

Gig-wise, Manchester-based Julia Bardo is making a big splash with her 1960’s-leaning pop. With rumbles of a breakthrough year ahead, don’t miss the chance to catch her in a venue as intimate as YES. The last decade has seen a new crop of ambient artists come to the fore. One of the most experimentally-minded of these is Steve Hauschildt, who plays The Yard.

Following the success of 16 sell-out seasons of the popular Carol Ann Duffy & Friends evening, the former Poet Laureate is back to introduce a new crop of student writers, plus guest poets Andrew McMillan and Ella Duffy, and a bit of live music to boot.

Finally, Aerial, a new festival of contemporary music, literature and performance takes place in and around the Lake District town of Ambleside.

Why not use the improving weather to take a trip into Manchester and the North for the best things to do in March, ranging from acclaimed music performances to stunning exhibitions and you can find some great places to eat and drink too.

Still showing this month

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.

What is Manchester Art Gallery?
Exhibitions Until 31 January 2023, FREE

What is Manchester Art Gallery? at Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery reopens with a thought-provoking new exhibition that delves into the history of the public institution and its role within the city.

Hardeep Sahota: Bhangra Lexicon – Online
Dance Until 1 April 2022, FREE

Hardeep Sahota: Bhangra Lexicon – Online

The world’s first ‘visual dictionary’ of movements found within Bhangra, compiled by World Bhangra Day founder, Hardeep Sahota.

Ad Minoliti at BALTIC in Gateshead
Exhibitions Until 13 March 2022, FREE

Ad Minoliti at BALTIC in Gateshead

Argentinian artist Ad Minoliti’s immersive exhibition draws upon queer and feminist theory to offer new understandings of the world around us.

Jadé Fadojutimi at The Hepworth Wakefield
Exhibitions 20 November 2021–1 May 2022, FREE

Jadé Fadojutimi at The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield will present an exhibition of new work by British artist Jadé Fadojutimi.

Sheila Hicks: Off Grid at The Hepworth Wakefield
Exhibitions 27 November 2021–29 May 2022,

Sheila Hicks: Off Grid at The Hepworth Wakefield

Drawing together over 70 pieces from international public and private collections, this major exhibition will explore the many facets of Hicks’ ground-breaking work – from her intimate Minimes, small woven drawings she creates on a hand-held frame, to large-scale installations that fill gallery spaces with vibrant colour.