Spring Bank Holiday Manchester
Li Yuan Chia: Unique Photographs at the Whitworth | Li Yuan Chia, Untitled, c1993. Courtesy the estate of Li Yuan Chia.

Spring bank holiday in Manchester and the North

Creative Tourist

This May Bank Holiday gives us something to celebrate, at last, after a tough year for everyone. The first May Bank Holiday, on the 3rd, is more a teaser, to get back in the swing of things in a limited manner, but the 17 May is when we can legally go inside venues so we can safely expect Monday 31 May to be an explosion of joy for everyone in Manchester and across the North.

The weather is warming up (no more freezing beer gardens) and the ability of venues to use both their inside and outside capacity means less wandering about desperately trying to find a place with a spare table. This coincides with a host of events from Manchester’s greatest arts venues and cultural spaces, taking in everything from a gripping exploration of data privacy and cybersecurity at The Science and Industry Museum, to an exhibition showcasing the glory days of English football at the National Football Museum – a nice palate cleanser for football fans after the recent activities of ‘the big six’.

And of course, we’ll point you towards some of the best pubs, bars and restaurants for drinking and dining outside, keeping our fingers firmly crossed that we’re granted rays of sunshine rather than clouds of rain.

Now more than ever we need to reconnect with our friends and family and do the things that make us happy, whether that’s engaging with art galleries, cocktails, interactive exhibitions or simply a cup of tea at a cafe. And now finally, after months of lockdown misery, we can head out into the world, blinking like a newborn lamb ready to enjoy Manchester at its best. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive list of what’s on offer to help you organise your weekend into something special.

For more ideas, take a look at our culture guides which feature exhibitions, music, cinema, theatre, literature and family events in more detail, plus our food and drink guide for all those thirst-quenching and stomach-filling suggestions.

Here are our picks

  • 1. What is Manchester Art Gallery? at Manchester Art Gallery

    What is Manchester Art Gallery?
    Photography Andrew Brooks

    What is Manchester Art Gallery? at Manchester Art Gallery, Chinatown, Until 31 January 2023, free entry - Visit now

    Manchester Art Gallery reopens to the public post-lockdown with a thought-provoking return to ground-zero, asking questions such as ‘Where did and does the money come from’ and ‘Where are all the objects and how did they get here – as well as more simply, ‘What is the point of a public art gallery?’ There’s no better venue for this than Manchester Art Gallery, located in the very heart of the city, overlooking the spot where the Peterloo Massacre took place just over two centuries ago.

  • 2. Free family things to do in Manchester

    Free family things to do in Manchester

    If you’re looking to keep the whole family busy, the world’s at your fingertips with free history, art, science and creative capers for all ages in Manchester.

  • 3. Parks and Gardens in Manchester

    Blossom on trees in Manchester

    If its nice weather, it’s either in the beer garden, or stomping around a park long enough to justify the time spent in the beer garden.

  • 4. Beer Gardens in Manchester & Salford

    The New Oxford

    If you don’t feel like doing anything too strenuous, there’s always the beer gardens. When the sun is shining, they’re where you want to be; here’s our guide to the best in Manchester. Remember to drink plenty of water between pints, and for goodness sake wear sun cream.

  • 5. Things to do in Liverpool

    Things to Do in Liverpool
    Image courtesy of Visit Britain.

    For more ideas of things to do in Liverpool, check out our latest recommendations and the pick of places to eat, drink, shop and stay.

  • 6. Places To Eat Outside in Manchester

    20 Stories eat outside in Manchester

    If the weather decides to stay sunny, you might be looking for somewhere to eat outside in Manchester. Here’s our guide to the restaurants in Manchester with the best areas for al fresco dining.

Things to do right now

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3 December 2022 10:00 am, FREE

Winter Art and Craft Fair at Heart

Activity Until 3 December 2022, from £35.00

Wreath Making Workshop at Leeds City Museum

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022
Cinema Until 4 December 2022, from £5

HOME Artist Film Weekender 2022

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals Until 4 December 2022, FREE

Lightwaves at Salford Quays

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre
Families Until 11 December 2022, from £27.00

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre

Music Until 17 December 2022, from £5

RNCM Autumn Season

Flecky Bennett’s HALLOWEEN 2018 Ghost Walk
Activity Until 17 December 2022, from £15

Flecky Bennett’s Ghost Walks