Music in Manchester and the North

Johnny James, Music Editor

Physical gigs are sadly on hold due to you-know-what. For artists and audiences alike, accepting this as the new normal is tough, but there are still ways of both parties connecting – albeit virtually. In this guide, we’ll be pointing you towards the best livestreamed concerts, broadcasts, activities and exhibitions on offer during the lockdown.

We also thought we’d give you a taste of what we’re listening to at the moment. In the Spotify playlist below, we’ll be adding tunes relating to features in this guide, new releases and miscellaneous gems.

We are so grateful to National Lottery players, The National Lottery, DCMS and Arts Council England for supporting our freelance writers during this crisis. This means that, although venues remain shut and campaigns cancelled, our writers can be reengaged to help arts organisations and artists across the North of England share their online content with our culture-hungry readers.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Record Shops in Manchester

    Record Store Day
    Image courtesy of Piccadilly Records.

    To the delight of crate diggers across the city, Manchester’s independent record stores are beginning to re-open. Here’s the lowdown on how they’re currently operating.

  • 2. Puffin Box at Hilton House

    Puffin Box
    Puffin Box

    Puffin Box at Hilton House, Manchester, 7 August–27 September 2020, from £110 - Book now

    Brought to you by the creators of La Discothèque, Puffin Box is ‘a rave in a box’ where you can immerse yourself in a 90-minute mini clubbing experience within your own social bubble.

  • 3. Björk Orkestral – Live From Reykjavík


    Björk Orkestral – Live From Reykjavík, online, 9–23 August 2020, from £15 - Book now

    Icelandic pop icon Björk is live-streaming a three-part series of concerts, showcasing new orchestral arrangements of songs spanning her entire career.

  • 4. The Choir Project: Virtual Choir

    The Choir Project
    Dan McDwyer

    The Choir Project: Virtual Choir, online, Until 25 August 2020, free entry - Visit now

    Improve your singing and wellbeing by joining The Choir Project’s weekly virtual choir led by Manchester singer and musical director, Dan McDwyer.

  • 5. Tim Burgess’ Listening Parties

    Tim Burgess
    Tim Burgess

    Tim Burgess' Listening Parties, online, Until 31 August 2020, free entry - Visit now

    The Charlatans’ frontman Tim Burgess is hosting daily album listening parties on Twitter, featuring guest appearances from Britpop and indie royalty.

  • 6. RNCM Lunchtime Concerts (online)

    Royal Northern College of Music

    RNCM Lunchtime Concerts, online, Until 27 August 2020, free entry - Visit now

    RNCM are taking their lunchtime concerts online, with remote recitals by students, staff and alumni live-streamed on Facebook every Monday and Thursday.

  • 7. Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism – Online at Gallery Oldham

    Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism at Gallery Oldham
    Specials Fans. Potternewton Park, Leeds, 1981. Courtesy of the artist and Autograph, London

    Rock Against Racism, online, Until 31 August 2020, free entry - Visit now

    Gallery Oldham presents an online exhibition of photographs by Yorkshire-born Syd Shelton, capturing the legendary Rock Against Racism movement.

  • 8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Manchester Arena

    Steve Parke

    Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Manchester Arena, Manchester, 21 April 2021, from £30.50 - Book now

    One of the world’s great live acts, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds are returning to Manchester in support of their extraordinary album, Ghosteen – postponed from May 2020.

  • 9. Neighbourhood Weekender 2020

    Neighbourhood Weekender

    Neighbourhood Weekender 2020 at Victoria Park, Southport, 29–30 May 2021, from £64.25 - Book now

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

  • 10. Thom Yorke at Victoria Warehouse

    Thom Yorke at Victoria Warehouse Cultural Calender
    Alex Lake

    Thom Yorke at Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, 13 June 2021, from £54.70 - Book now

    Following the release of his excellent solo album ANIMA, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is performing not one but two shows at Victoria Warehouse next June.

More in Music

Amazon with HOME
Music Until 31 December 2020,

Amazon with HOME

Created by composer Alex Ho and theatre-maker Elayce Ismail, this stunning fusion of music, text and visuals sees a trip to the Amazon take an unexpected turn.

Music Until 27 August 2020, FREE

At Home With Radiohead

Radiohead are helping fans get through the lockdown with a series of largely unseen concert films, uploaded to YouTube every Thursday.

Threat to Breath with HOME
Music Until 31 December 2020,

Threat to Breath with HOME

A brand new commission for Homemakers, Threat to Breath is a sound piece to listen to at home, on your own or with others.

Cinema Until 31 August 2020, from £4.99

Stop Making Sense – Streaming on BFI Player

Jonathan Demme x Talking Heads. Find out why Stop Making Sense is widely regarded as the greatest concert film ever made.

Use Hearing Protection: The Early Years of Factory Records at the Science and Industry Museum
Exhibitions Until 10 January 2021, from £5

Use Hearing Protection: The Early Years of Factory Records at the Science and Industry Museum (temporarily closed)

Use Hearing Protection tells the story of Factory Records’ formative years from 1978-1982, when the label made waves with its innovative work in music, technology and design.

Music 16 August 2020 7:00 pm, from £15.00


In this intimate and live-streamed concert, Halvcast will explore climate change, black lives matter and his upbringing in post-apartheid South Africa.

Families 21–23 August 2020, from £20

Just So Festival 2020 CANCELLED

The best family festival in the UK returns for its 11th outing. Pillow fights, paddle-boarding, woodland opera, and the best new outdoor arts for families.

Music 3 September 2020 7:30 pm,

Creep Show at YES

A collaborative project between John Grant and Wrangler, Creep Show blend experimental pop, surreal funk and dark analogue electro.

Vintage by the Sea
Families 5–6 September 2020, FREE

Vintage by the Sea in Morecambe – Cancelled

Celebrate the brilliance of 20th century design, fashion, vehicles and entertainment at this award-winning festival set around Morecambe’s famous art deco Midland Hotel.

Culture Guides

Cinema Online

We look at the outdoor screenings and digital releases you can enjoy as cinemas prepare to reopen safely.

Family of Lord Alf Morris, image courtesy of Manchester Histories


Art and women’s wrestling, Ancient Akkadian gravesites and invented artefacts – check out this month’s pick of exhibitions from across the north.

Makefest At Home

Families Online

Need some inspiration for online activities and creative family fun? Look no further than our top picks online for families across Manchester and the North.

Writer Olivia Laing. Photo by Manuel Vazquez


From book launches to poetry and prose readings and from open mics to creative writing workshops and masterclasses, Live Literature Land has online activities and events nailed.

Plastica Galactica: Get Involved


We can’t wait to be back in the stalls again…until then our theatre guide brings the best of online theatre and interactive performance to enjoy at home.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Higher Ground

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

For the August guide, we’ve dug out the best Food and Drink in Manchester and the North to explore now that lockdown has thankfully eased.

Isolation Broadcast

Online events

Discover the best things to do online from the organisations we love in Manchester and the North.

tours and activities

Tours and Activities

Socially distant walks and virtual tours are among the offerings in this month’s guide of Tours and Activities.