Unmissable things to do in Manchester and the North

Discover acclaimed music and stand-out exhibitions, groundbreaking theatre, family, cinema and literary events in Manchester and the North.

Our top picks
Festivals 25 May–16 June 2017,

Liverpool presents Sgt Pepper at 50

It was 50 years ago this year that Sgt Pepper taught the band to play. And now, Liverpool is presenting a series of events to celebrate this landmark occasion – from mass-participation free music events to dance exclusives, plus exhibitions, brass bands and more.

Contact Summer Season
Theatre 16 May–30 June 2017,

Contact Summer Season 2017

While other theatres are shutting up shop Contact has launched a summer season packed with powerful theatre performances.

Music 26 May 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Concert Fantastique

Two startling contrasts in the art of inspiration: Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, a characteristically serene homage; and Berlioz’s incomparable Symphonie fantastique, an opium-fuelled wildly passionate epic.

Dance 23 May 2017, from £14.50

Symphonie Dramatique at The Lowry

Symphonie Dramatique – which reimagines the story of Romeo and Juliet through a mix of classical and contemporary dance – has got fire and finesse…and we’ve got a feeling it’s going to be great.

Theatre 24–25 May 2017, from £10.00

Schrödinger at Contact

Schrödinger depicts a place where nothing is what it seems, where no one knows who has power, and where once-strong words have become dust.

Theatre 26 May 2017, FREE

HUSH HUSH at The Lowry

A risk-free night of surprise theatre delivered by The Lowry’s experts.

Theatre 25 May–10 June 2017, from £10.00

Rose at HOME

Academy Award nominee Dame Janet Suzman stars as Rose, taking us on a journey through her life that charts the fate of Europe’s Jews through the Twentieth Century and into the Millennium.

Leeds Indie Food Festival 2017
Festivals 11–28 May 2017,

Leeds Indie Food Festival 2017

The Leeds Indie Food festival is back for a third mouthwatering edition, celebrating the best of the city’s thriving independent food and drink scene.

Exhibitions 19 May–20 August 2017, FREE

Object Lessons at Manchester Museum

Extraordinary objects from the private collection of art collector George Loudon go on display to the public for the first time in Object Lessons at Manchester Museum – a showcase of 19th century life science teaching objects that blurs the boundary between art and science.

Music 25 May 2017, from £45.00

The Human League at Liverpool Sound City 2017

Sheffield’s legendary synthpop group The Human League celebrate their 40th year by headlining the opening night of Liverpool Sound City 2017 – which is itself marking its 10th outing. With seminal electronic band Art of Noise and former Factory Records group A Certain Ratio joining them, Clarence Dock hosts this extra special opening show.

Families 18–20 August 2017, from £20.00

Just So Festival 2017 at Rode Hall, Cheshire

The best family festival in the UK? We think so. Adventure together into a wonderland of the best outdoor theatre, music, comedy, literature and other curious creative escapades. With midnight feasts, pillow fights and the bonkers Tribal Tournament be sure to snap up a ticket fast.

Families 10–11 June 2017, FREE

Rita Riot / Rita Dreaming / Rita Requiem at Hope Street, The Oratory and Liverpool Cathedrals

Change the way you feel about traffic wardens forever. Join over 300 brass musicans and parking attendants kicking off a weekend of riotous street performance and events by international performer Meow Meow. Experience the song Lovely Rita through new eyes as part of Liverpool’s Sgt Pepper at 50 celebrations.

Scorch at Contact
Theatre 23–26 May 2017, from £6.00

Scorch at Contact

An important story vividly told, Scorch is one of the most impressive pieces of theatre you’ll see this year.

Dance 1–4 June 2017, from £10.00

DEPART at Stanley Park

DEPART is a unique circus show that has you stumble across performers like fairies in an enchanted forest.

Festivals 29 June–16 July 2017, from £12.00

Manchester International Festival 2017

Manchester International Festival, the world’s first festival of original work and special events, returns in 2017 under new Artistic Director 2017. Here’s our guide to the unique programme, taking place across Manchester.

Culture Guides

Food and Drink

Discover the best food and drink that the North has to offer in our expert guide to food and drink in Manchester and beyond.


This month, we round up some of the disreputable treasures and genuinely ambitious pieces of film art that are screening around Manchester and the North.


A number of radical exhibitions feature in this month’s Exhibitions guide – which includes cutting edge-digital art and giant, endangered animals at MediaCityUK.


Theatrical adventures reflecting on our changing world, sleep walks, a ridiculous art race through the forest, and our guide to Just So Festival.

The Real Story: Live with Lauren Elkin


Spring is well and truly in the air, and there are plenty of prose and poetry events blossoming this month across the North West, and the chance for budding writers to scribe some site-specific stories.


As we enter festival season, the likes of bluedot, Cloudspotting and Manchester International Festival offer the chance to see some of the biggest artists on the planet in our own backyards…


This month’s theatre guide is full of fresh starts and exciting new relationships, with just a twist of darkness mixed in for good measure.

Destination Guides