May

Creative Tourist

Containing 2 bank holidays, sunny weather, great exhibitions and live shows accompanied by some great food- this May could be a month packed with unforgettable experiences. Here are some of the best things to do in May in Manchester and the North.

Things to do in May

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Music 1–2 May 2021, from £25

Get Together Festival at The University of Sheffield Students’ Union

Taking place at The Sheffield University Students’ Union, Get Together is an exciting and positive new festival that celebrates the best in music, food and drink over the course of the first May bank holiday in 2021.

Festival of Halifax.
Festivals 14–16 May 2021, FREE

The Festival of Halifax – POSTPONED

This event has been postponed and will now take place from 11 – 15 May 2022. The line-up is subject to change and we will bring you up-to-date information as soon as we have it.

Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life
Exhibitions 21 May–31 October 2021,

Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life at The Hepworth Wakefield

In summer 2021, to mark The Hepworth Wakefield’s 10th anniversary, the gallery will organise the largest exhibition of Barbara Hepworth’s work since the artist’s death in 1975.

The exhibition will present an in-depth view of the Wakefield-born artist’s life, interests, work and legacy. It will display some of Hepworth’s most celebrated sculptures including the modern abstract carving that launched her career in the 1920s and 1930s, her iconic strung sculptures of the 1940s and 1950s, and large-scale bronze and carved sculptures from later in her career.

Key loans from national public collections will be shown alongside works from private collections that have not been on public display since the 1970s, and rarely seen drawings, paintings and fabric designs. It will reveal how Hepworth’s wide sphere of interests comprising music, dance, science, space exploration, politics and religion, as well as events in her personal life, influenced her work.

Contemporary artists Tacita Dean and Veronica Ryan have been commissioned to create new works which will be presented within the exhibition. Each artist will explore themes and ideas that interested Hepworth and that continue to resonate with their own work. Art works by Bridget Riley from the 1960s will also be presented in dialogue with Hepworth’s work from the same period.

To coincide with the exhibition, The Hepworth Wakefield’s curator Eleanor Clayton is writing a major new book on the artist, published by Thames & Hudson. There will also be a one-hour documentary about Hepworth’s life and career on Sky Arts in spring 2021.

This exhibition is kindly supported by Henry Moore Foundation, The Porthmeor Fund, and The Hepworth Wakefield 10 Circle.

Psappha
Classical Music 27 May 2021 7:30 pm, from £5

Psappha: Music for Accordion (In Focus) at Hallé St Peter’s

Joining Psappha, world-class accordionist Miloš Milivojević guides us through a variety of music written for this unexpectedly versatile instrument.

Music 29–30 May 2021, from £64.25

Neighbourhood Weekender 2021

The Neighbourhood Weekender returns to Warrington for its third outing next May bank holiday. We make our top five picks from the line-up.

Still showing this month

Trading Station: how hot drinks shape our lives – exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibitions Until 14 December 2021, FREE

Trading Station: how hot drinks shape our lives at Manchester Art Gallery

Trading Station at Manchester Art Gallery charts the history and changing social role of hot drinks in our lives.

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.

Posters from the civil rights era – an online exhibition
Exhibitions Until 30 June 2021, FREE

Posters from the Irish civil rights era – Online with the Working Class Movement Library

Working Class Movement Library presents an online exhibition of powerful posters made by young activists fighting for civil rights in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

What it is to be here: Colonisation and Resistance – Online at The Portico Library
Exhibitions Until 27 July 2021, FREE

What it is to be here: Colonisation and Resistance – Online at The Portico Library

The Portico Library marks 250 years since British explorer James Cook first landed on the shores of what we now call Australia with an online exhibition that explores the history of violence and resistance that followed.

online events I am falling in love with you and its making me do stupid things
Festivals Until 31 July 2021,

Homemakers

NOW EXTENDED: HOME have invited theatre and live art makers to create new works at home, for an audience who are also at home. 

Exhibitions Until 1 May 2021, FREE

The Gardener Digs in Another Time – Online at the Whitworth

the Whitworth in Manchester invites you to step into the garden as subject with an online version of its 2016 exhibition, The Gardener Digs in Another Time.

Everything That Rises Must Dance with HOME
Theatre Until 31 July 2021,

Everything that rises must dance with HOME

Produced by Complicité for Homemakers: Join a virtual gathering of women for an online dance project celebrating female movement throughout history.

Hamilton - Streaming on Disney Plus
Theatre Until 15 October 2021, from £5.99

Hamilton – Streaming on Disney Plus

Politically charged with a hip-hop soundtrack, there is no doubt that this filmed performance is one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 2020.

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.

Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 9 May 2021, from £11

Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool

Tate Liverpool presents a major retrospective of work by Don McCullin, widely considered to be one of the greatest photojournalists of our time.

Psappha
Classical Music Until 27 May 2021, FREE

Psappha 2020/21 Concert Season

Psappha’s 2020–21 season explores the sharpest and smartest sounds in contemporary classical music, presented in concert and streamed online for free.

Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at Imperial War Museum North
Exhibitions Until 31 May 2021, FREE

Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at Imperial War Museum North

Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at Imperial War Museum North takes a close look at the moral dilemmas surrounding overseas aid.

The Sheffield Project at Weston Park Museum, Sheffield
Exhibitions Until 3 May 2021, FREE

The Sheffield Project at Weston Park Museum, Sheffield

Commissioned in the mid-1980s, The Sheffield Project focused a lens on a unique chapter in the city’s history, when it embarked on a journey of radical change.

Cinema Until 30 September 2021, FREE

Make Up – Streaming on BBC iPlayer

Cornwall has seldom seemed eerier than in Make-Up, the vivid first feature from director Claire Oakley.

Fun and Games The Portico Library Joseph Strutt The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England
Exhibitions Until 24 May 2021, FREE

Fun & Games: Playtime, Past & Present at The Portico Library and Online

Fun & Games at The Portico Library explores the evolution and traditions of games and play throughout the ages up to today.

#WELCOME? at the People's History Museum
Exhibitions Until 31 October 2021, FREE

#WELCOME? at the People’s History Museum

#WELCOME? at the People’s History Museum explores the wider impact of media coverage and changing immigration controls.

Aliza Nisenbaum at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 27 June 2021, FREE

Aliza Nisenbaum at Tate Liverpool

International portrait artist Aliza Nisenbaum will present a new painting at Tate Liverpool this winter, depicting members of the city’s key workers.

Postal Exhibition Print Programme from OUTPUT
Exhibitions Until 1 June 2021, FREE

Postal Exhibition Print Programme from OUTPUT

OUTPUT in Liverpool launches a new programme of mail-based exhibitions, sending original artwork directly to your home.

Discover Buxton Tram Tours
Activity Until 31 December 2021, from £80

Discover Buxton Tram Tours

Enjoy a journey through time on Discover Buxton Tour’s unique vintage tram.

Discover Buxton Character Tours
Activity Until 31 December 2021, from £15

Discover Buxton Character Tours

These colourful character guides offer unique and entertaining insights into the history of some of Buxton’s most iconic buildings.

Discover Buxton Walking Tours
Activity Until 31 December 2021, from £10

Discover Buxton Walking Tours

Have your history delivered by expert guides whose passion for the heritage of Buxton spills into the unexpected.

Discover Buxton Roman Tours
Activity Until 31 December 2021, from £15

Discover Buxton Roman Tours

Join local historian Brian Shepherd for a walk around the town and learn what Buxton may have looked like during Britain’s Roman occupation.

Discover Buxton Audio Tours
Activity Until 31 December 2021, from £10

Discover Buxton Audio Tours

Discover Buxton’s audio tours of The Peak cover the area around Buxton and are designed to be enjoyed from the comfort of your own vehicle.

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.

Music Until 17 May 2021,

NQ Jazz Live – Postponed

NQ Jazz have teamed up with The Stoller Hall and The Yard to bring us dozens of COVID-safe jazz events featuring established and emerging artists.

POSTPONED – AI: More than Human at World Museum Liverpool
Exhibitions 22 January–20 June 2021, from £5

POSTPONED – AI: More than Human at World Museum Liverpool

Barbican’s major exhibition, AI: More than Human, comes to Liverpool, offering a tantlising look into the future.

Music 11 February–11 May 2021, from £5

The Hallé – Henning Kraggerud: Artist in Residence

Hallé Artist in Residence, Henning Kraggerud curates a concert featuring the UK premiere of his adaptation of Grieg’s Third Violin Sonata.

Science Photographer of the Year – Online as Part of Manchester Science Festival 2021
Exhibitions 12 February–2 May 2021, FREE

Science Photographer of the Year – Online as Part of Manchester Science Festival 2021

A stunning online exhibition that brings together award-winning photographic images from the world of science, climate and art.

Music 25 February–25 May 2021, from £5

The Hallé – Shostakovich’s Dazzling First

The Hallé performs a varied programme of Grazyna Bacewicz, Aaron Copland and Dmitri Shostakovich under the baton of new Assistant Conductor, Delyana Lazarova.

Music 11 March–11 June 2021, from £5

The Hallé – Movie Classics

Presented by the BBC’s Petroc Trelawny and conducted by Stephen Bell, the Hallé celebrates classical music on the silver screen.

Music 18 March–18 June 2021, from £5

The Hallé – Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale

Sir Mark Elder conducts a staged performance of Stravinsky’s 1918 masterpiece The Soldier’s Tale, directed by Olivier Award winner Annabel Arden.

Liverpool Biennial 2021 – The Stomach and the Port
Exhibitions 20 March–6 June 2021, FREE

Liverpool Biennial 2021 – The Stomach and the Port

The 11th edition of the UK’s oldest and largest festival of contemporary visual art is about to open, with work by over 50 artists.

Tony Phillips: 12 Decades at Bluecoat in Liverpool
Exhibitions 20 March–6 June 2021, FREE

Tony Phillips: 12 Decades at Bluecoat in Liverpool

Tony Phillips’ 12 Decades continues a survey of modern history that has occupied him over the last 40 years. The series will go on show at Bluecoat in 2021.

Music 25 March–25 June 2021, from £5

The Hallé – Trail-blazing Hallé

The Hallé is joined by Boris Giltburg for Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, before the world premiere of Huw Watkins’ Second Symphony.

Ad Minoliti at BALTIC in Gateshead
Exhibitions 1 April 2021–13 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.

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature 11 April–12 December 2021, FREE

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and award-winning garden is a must-see, with the famous book sale scheduled (assuming Lockdown is lifted at the end of March) as follows: 11 April, 9 May, 13 June, 11 July, 8 August, 12 September, 10 October, 14 November and 12 December 2021, 11am-4pm.