Online things to do in Manchester and the North – Online events

Johnny James, Music Editor

Over the past year, cultural organisations in Manchester and the north have become masters in the art of delivering online events. As a result, what local culture lovers have lost in the analogue, they’ve gained digitally.

While live events are now inching back into being, the cultural organisations we love continue to beam their programmes into our living rooms, for all to enjoy. From theatre shows to classical concerts to live literature events, there’s so much northern-born culture to explore online – it’s just a matter of getting to the really good stuff…  

….which is where we come in. Spanning all of our sections and covering both the mainstream and the niche, here we round up our top picks of online events and activities coming to a screen near you this May.

Here are our picks

  • 1. WoWFEST 2021

    Salena Godden. Photo © Olivia Rutherford

    WoWFEST 2021, online, Until 31 May 2021 - Book now

    WoWFEST, Liverpool’s longest-running literary festival, takes place throughout May with a packed programme of online events featuring Kit de Waal, Salena Godden, Nikesh Shukla, Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Ben Okri.

  • 2. Tai Shani: The Neon Hieroglyph – Online with Manchester International Festival Virtual Factory

    Tai Shani: The Neon Hieroglyph – Online with Manchester International Festival Virtual Factory
    Tai Shani, The Neon Hieroglyph (still), 2021

    Tai Shani: The Neon Hieroglyph – Online with Manchester International Festival Virtual Factory, online, Until 31 March 2022, free entry - Visit now

    Turner Prize-winning artist Tai Shani takes us on an LSD-inspired hallucinatory journey across time and space. Prepare to have your consciousness expanded.

  • 3. Suzannah V Evans online book launch with Eleanor Rees

    Poet Eleanor Rees. Photo by Elly Lucas.

    Book Launch - Suzannah V Evans, with Eleanor Rees, online, 6 May 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    Liverpool-based Eleanor Rees reads at the online launch of Suzannah V Evans’ new pamphlet Brightwork, out with Guillemot Press, who are publishing Eleanor’s own next collection in 2022.

  • 4. MINDSCAPES: //OUTSIDEIN// – Theater DEGASTEN

    Mindscapes //OUTSIDEIN//
    Image courtesy of Theater DEGASTEN/SICK! Festival.

    MINDSCAPES: //OUTSIDEIN// - Theater DEGASTEN, online, Until 16 May 2022, free entry - Visit now

    Tune into a new theatre piece created by young people and care institutions across Manchester in collaboration with Amsterdam-based Theater DEGASTIN.

  • 5. Jhumpa Lahiri and Kamila Shamsie online at Manchester Literature Festival

    Writer and translator Jhumpa Lahiri.
    Writer and translator Jhumpa Lahiri.

    Jhumpa Lahiri & Kamila Shamsie in Conversation, online, 20–27 May 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    The latest spring guest to be welcomed by Manchester Literature Festival 2021 is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Jhumpa Lahiri, who will be in conversation with Women’s Prize-winning novelist Kamila Shamsie.

  • 6. The Hallé – Shostakovich’s Dazzling First

    The Hallé

    The Hallé - Shostakovich's Dazzling First, online, Until 1 July 2021, from £5 - Book now

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

  • 7. Sons and Mothers online talk with Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

    Poet Philip Larkin. Photo: Philip Larkin Society.

    Sons and Mothers: Lawrence, Larkin and the Maternal Muse, online, 26 May 2021, from £4 - Book now

    Join poet Philip Watts to explore the work of two of the finest English writers of the 20th century. The talk will examine DH Lawrence’s relationship with his mother influenced his work and how that, in turn, affected Philip Larkin’s poetry some years later.

  • 8. Undine – Streaming on Curzon Home Cinema

    Curzon

    Undine, online, Until 28 May 2021, from £9.99 - Book now

    The latest film from writer-director Christian Petzold is a slippery combination of folklore and romance, and our cinema editor’s film of the year, so far.

  • 9. Abandon Normal Devices Festival 2021

    Exhibitions in Manchester and the North
    Toxicity's Reach, Mary Maggic, Dr Luiza Prado de. O Martins, and Sissel Marie Tonn

    Abandon Normal Devices Festival 2021, 27 May–11 July 2021, Tickets not yet on sale - Book now

    Abandon Normal Devices Festival, the UK’s only roaming digital festival, resurfaces in 2021 with a new hybrid format, exploring the post-industrial landscapes of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey.

  • 10. Digital Realness – Online with Site Gallery

    Exhibitions in Manchester and the North
    Phantom, Sian Fan

    Digital Realness, online, Until 31 May 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Site Gallery’s wide-ranging art exhibition Digital Realness looks set to invite a fascinating closer look at the digital space in which so much of ‘real life’ now occurs.

  • 11. Art Classes in Didsbury with ColourWheel

    ColourWheel Art Classes

    Art Classes in Didsbury, online, Until 14 June 2021, from £50 - Book now

    Learn new skills, refine techniques and explore different medias with ColourWheel Art Classes in Didsbury.

  • 12. Curator’s Tour: Grayson’s Art Club

    Manchester Art Gallery

    Curator's Tour: Grayson's Art Club, online, Until 30 June 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Join Manchester Art Gallery’s Natasha Howes and Fiona Corridan for a curator’s tour of Grayson’s Art Club, featuring pieces that didn’t quite make it onto the Grayson’s Art Club Channel 4 show, but which are well worth a look!

  • 13. The Hallé – Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale

    The Hallé

    The Hallé - Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale, online, Until 29 July 2021, from £5 - Book now

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

  • 14. Electric Dreams – Online with Venture Arts

    Electric Dreams – Online with Venture Arts
    Declan Leslie, untitled, pen on paper, 2019-20.

    Electric Dreams, online, Until 31 August 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Venture Arts presents the first of three online exhibitions featuring new work made by learning disabled artists over lockdown.

  • 15. Hidden Winter

    Hidden Winter
    Image courtesy of SBC Theatre.

    Hidden Winter, online, Until 31 August 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Round up the family and head outside for a wonderful story walk adventure from Stand and Be Counted Theatre. Perfect for livening up a lockdown walk with kids.

  • 16. Doodle Den: Playful Protests Online

    doodle den at people's history museum, young girl using thick marker pen to drawer on a glass panel

    Doodle Den: Playful Protests at People's History Museum at People’s History Museum in Manchester, City Centre and online, Until 31 December 2021, free entry

    The whole family can use the People’s History Museum’s online resources to creatively explore important topics including climate change, LGBT+ Pride and migrant rights.

  • 17. Sound Stage

    Sound Stage
    Image courtesy of Naked Productions.

    Sound Stage, online, Until 1 October 2021, TBC - Book now

    An exciting new audio-digital venture, Sound Stage has been designed by theatre-makers and leading technologists to give audiences a unique online theatre experience.

  • 18. NQ Jazz Live

    NQ Jazz Live at The Stoller Hall, Manchester and online, 7 June–4 October 2021 - Book now

    A massive programme of live jazz music, spanning venues across Manchester, has been announced as part of a collaborative series by NQ Jazz, The Stoller Hall and The Yard.

  • 19. The Hallé – Shostakovich’s Dazzling First

    The Hallé

    The Hallé - Shostakovich's Dazzling First, online, Until 1 July 2021, from £5 - Book now

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

  • 20. Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché at HOME

    HOME

    Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché at HOME Manchester, Manchester, 17 May 2021, from £9.99 - Book now

    An unconventional subject demands an unconventional treatment — this new documentary explores the life and times of punk rock icon Poly Styrene.

More in Activity

Damien Hirst at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Exhibitions Until 1 April 2022, FREE

Damien Hirst at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Experience YBA artist Damien Hirst’s towering and provocative outdoor sculptures at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

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.

These Lancashire Women are Witches in Politics with The Turnpike
Exhibitions Until 31 January 2022, FREE

These Lancashire Women are Witches in Politics with The Turnpike

A collaborative project that takes inspiration from the history of the Leigh Female Reformers of 1819 and the monstrous representations of them in the media of the time.

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.

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 24 September 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.

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Writer and translator Jhumpa Lahiri.

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