untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play at the Royal Exchange
Image courtesy of the Royal Exchange/ MIF

Cultural Calendar 2023

Creative Tourist

As we head into 2023 we’re overwhelmed by the volume of thrilling cultural festivals, brand-new openings, massive gigs and special events scheduled over the next 12 months. To help you fill your calendars, we’ve asked our editors to select their highlights of the year to come.

There should be something here for everybody, from family-friendly picks to liven up the school holidays, to literary highlights, world-class exhibitions, performances from internationally-acclaimed musicians, and cinematic treasures to delight the most discerning film buff.

Want more? You can keep up-to-the-minute with what’s happening across Manchester and the North with our specialist Cinema, Exhibitions, Theatre, Literature, Music, Family and Tours & Activities guides. You can also follow us on all the usual socials (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and subscribe to our mailing list to get this kind of thing in your inbox every Friday lunchtime.

Here’s to unforgettable cultural adventures in 2023.

Here are our picks

  • 1. International Mother Language Day 2023

    Anjum Malik. Photo by Randulph Redlin
    Poet Anjum Malik. Photo by Randulph Redlin.

    International Mother Language Day at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 21 February–31 March 2023, free entry - Find Out More

    Championing language diversity and its connection to cultural and traditional heritage, International Mother Language Day is celebrated around the world annually on 21 February, and, in our very own UNESCO Manchester City of Literature, events will be taking place both beforehand and running until the end of March.

  • 2. ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival 2023 at HOME

    ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival

    ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival 2023 at HOME Manchester, Manchester, 10–30 March 2023, from £7.95 - Book now

    HOME’s ¡Viva! is returning for its 29th year. This annual celebration of Spanish and Latin American cinema is a Manchester institution and one of the early cinema highlights of 2023.

  • 3. Festival of the Brain

    Jo Clements.

    Festival of the Brain at The Whitaker, 11 March 2023, from £7.50 - Book now

    The Festival of The Brain is a gathering of experts, who are sharing their viewpoints and research on the brain against the backdrop of a new exhibition. 

  • 4. Leonard Bernstein’s Mass at the Bridgewater Hall

    Image courtesy of RNCM

    Leonard Bernstein’s Mass at The Bridgewater Hall, City Centre, 12 March 2023, from £9.00 - Book now

    A colossal work of impressive magnitude will be being performed by the students of the RNCM this March.

  • 5. RNCM Spring Season 2023

    Image courtesy of RNCM.

    RNCM Spring Season at Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester, Until 2 April 2023 - Book now

    In their 50th Anniversary year, RNCM have really pulled out all the stops in their spring season. Expect ambitious projects, groundbreaking operas and newly commissioned works performed by some of the best names in classical music as well as the next generation of rising stars.

  • 6. Gwendoline Riley at Leeds Central Library

    Gwendoline Riley. Photo by Adrian Lourie
    Author Gwendoline Riley. Photo by Adrian Lourie.

    In Conversation with Gwendoline Riley at Leeds Central Library, Leeds, 16 March 2023, free entry - Find Out More

    Prize-winning Gwendoline Riley is on our list of favourites, with novels Cold Water and Sick Notes featuring Manchester as a backdrop, and on 16 March 2023 she’s over the Pennines in Leeds talking about her sixth novel, the toe-curling mother-and-daughter tale My Phantoms.

  • 7. Hyde Park Picture House Reopening

    Hyde Park Picture House

    Hyde Park Picture House Reopening at Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds, 1–30 April 2023, free entry - Find Out More

    One of the jewels in the North’s independent cinema scene, Leeds’ historic Hyde Park Picture House is about to emerge from a three-year period of refurbishment and redevelopment.

  • 8. Richard Dawson at New Century

    Richard Dawson

    Richard Dawson at New Century, Manchester, 25 April 2023, from £18.00 - Book now

    Richard Dawson, one of Britain’s best, most humane songwriters, returns to Manchester for the first time since the release of his celebrated seventh album, The Ruby Cord.

  • 9. Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead at The Lowry

    Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead at The Lowry
    Image courtesy of Complicité.

    Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead at The Lowry, Salford, 25–29 April 2023, from £16.00 - Book now

    Any new show by Complicité is a pretty big deal so we’re thrilled that 2023 will see the company bring a new work to The Lowry‘s stage.

  • 10. Northern Publishers’ Fair at Central Library

    Author Adam Farrer. Photo by Simon Buckley
    Author Adam Farrer. Photo by Simon Buckley.

    Northern Publishers' Fair at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 29 April 2023, free entry - Find Out More

    Now a regular fixture in the literature calendar, various independent publishing houses will be setting out their stalls at Manchester Central Library on 19 April 2023 for the latest Northern Publishers’ Fair, organised by the city’s own indie not-for-profit Fly On The Wall Press.

  • 11. Treehouse Manchester

    Ian Jones

    Treehouse Manchester, Blackfriars Street, Manchester, M3 2EQ - Visit now

    A Treehouse hotel is coming to Manchester in spring 2023, featuring a rooftop bar that offers stunning views of the city. The hotel will have 216 rooms and be located at the space previously occupied by the unmissed Renaissance Hotel down Deansgate. The goal is to make guests feel like they are in their own ‘secret forest’ and if our visit to Treehouse London is anything to go by, the people of Manchester are in safe hands.

  • 12. Lucky Cat

    Lucky Cat

    Lucky Cat, 100 King Street , Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 4WU - Visit now

    Gordon Ramsey brings his fine-dining Asian-style restaurant Lucky Cat to Manchester in April 2023, setting up shop in the Grade II listed former bank on King Street, formerly occupied by old nemesis Jamie Oliver’s much-missed Jamie’s Italian.

  • 13. The Spongebob Musical at the Manchester Opera House

    via ATG Tickets

    The Spongebob Musical at Manchester Opera House, City Centre, 16–20 May 2023, from £13.00 - Book now

    Dive into some deep-sa family fun at The Spongebob Musical at the Manchester Opera House. Our favourite underwater spongey character is set to make a big, wet splash in Manchester in this unmissable stage show bursting with magical dancing, singing and ridiculous amounts of fun!

  • 14. Geronimo Festival at Arley Hall

    Geronimo Festival 2022
    Adrian Myers

    Geronimo Festival at Arley Hall and Gardens, Cheshire, 26–29 May 2023, from £20.00 - Book now

    Geronimo Festival at Arley Hall returns in 2023 at an earlier date of 26-29 May 2023, and as always, the festival described as ‘Glastonbury for Kids’ is set to be packed with heaps of activities, events, food stalls, music, camping and all sorts of fun for families.

  • 15. Roger Waters at AO Arena

    Roger Waters

    Roger Waters at Manchester Arena, Manchester, 10 June 2023, from £98.50 - Book now

    Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters continues his This Is Not A Drill tour at Manchester’s AO Arena, bringing both solo and Pink Floyd material to the city for the first time in five years.

  • 16. Liverpool Biennial 2023 – uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things

    Credit: Thom Isom

    Liverpool Biennial 2023, 10 June–17 September 2023, free entry - Find Out More

    The UK’s largest art festival is back this year, promising an exciting summer filled with art and events that will focus on ancestral knowledge, wisdom and healing.

  • 17. untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play at the Royal Exchange

    untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play at the Royal Exchange
    Image courtesy of the Royal Exchange/ MIF

    untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play at Royal Exchange Theatre, City Centre, 24 June–22 July 2023, from £7.00 - Book now

    Winner of the Bruntwood Prize 2019, International Award and presented as part of MIF23, Kimber Lee’s play looks to be the pièce de résistance for another brilliant season at the Royal Exchange.

  • 18. Festa Italiana

    Si Ronconi

    Festa Italiana, Festival Piazza, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, M4 3BG - Visit now

    Festa Italia returns later in the year with another yearly celebration of all things Italian in Manchester. Always blessed with great weather and a superb line-up of street food, live acts and Mediterranean drinks, it’s a winning way to round off the summer months. Put it in your diary now.

  • 19. Lindsey Mendick at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

    Photo: Elissa Cray. Courtesy of Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate

    Lindsey Mendick at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, Until 3 September 2023, free entry - Visit now

    This spring Yorkshire Sculpture Park welcomes Lindsey Mendick, a rising star of the contemporary art world, in an immersive solo exhibition.

  • 20. Free Your Mind at Factory International

    Free Your Mind at Factory International
    Free Your Mind at Factory International. Image courtesy of North Design.

    Free Your Mind at Factory International, Castlefield, 13 October–5 November 2023, from £10.00 - Book now

    Directed by Danny Boyle, Free Your Mind is a Matrix-themed large-scale performance spectacular and the first production at Manchester’s newest landmark arts venue.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Activity Until 8 February 2023, from £170.00

Drawing course with Nina Hunter

Music Until 16 February 2023, from £9.50

Donna Candy at SOUP

vegan super club
Activity Until 17 February 2023, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Exhibitions Until 18 February 2023, FREE

The Confessional at HOME

Queer Contact 2023
Comedy Until 18 February 2023,

Queer Contact Festival 2023

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME
Festivals Until 18 February 2023,

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside
Families Until 19 February 2023, from £14.00

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside CANCELLED

Activity Until 23 February 2023, from £59.99

Write Like A Grrrl: Ignite

Activity Until 25 February 2023, from £13

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Tour

Fairy Tales at Z-Arts
Families Until 26 February 2023, from £3.00

Fairy Tales at Z-arts