Theatre in Manchester and the North

Kristy Stott, Theatre Editor

Theatre is positively bustling in Manchester and the North – vibrant, eclectic and bold. There’s a real wealth of performance on offer; arts festivals, stunning physical theatre and intimate in-the-round performance top our list of drama, comedy and dance this month.

Queer Contact Festival returns for two weeks this February. True to form, the 2023 edition showcases a loaded line-up of theatre, comedy, live music, drag shows, spoken word, conversations and cabaret. The festival is a popular and celebrated event of Manchester’s queer arts scene – with something for everyone – be sure to check out our full preview.

Meanwhile, Theatre Re bring The Nature of Forgetting, a beautifully realised physical theatre piece exploring the memories lost to dementia, to The Lowry.

The Royal Exchange have a cracking new season lined up too – we’re championing Simon Eldridge’s intimate and beautiful two-hander, Beginning, which aptly kicks off the season and Kimber Lee’s Bruntwood Prize International Award-winner untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play, happening as part of Manchester International Festival in the summer.

We’ve also got our eyes on Catherine Cohen‘s first UK stand-up tour; imitating the dog’s bold and daring retelling of Macbeth; Simon Stephen’s stunning monologue – Song From Far Away – starring Will Young at HOME; an adaptation of The Beekeeper of Aleppo directed by Miranda Cromwell and a brand-new show by Complicité.

Read on for details of these and much more…

Here are our picks

More in Theatre

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre
Families Until 11 March 2023, from £20.00

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre

The sun may have set over our Manchester theatres during the pandemic – but now “it’s rolling high through the sapphire sky” once again. Hit musical The Lion King has added even more dates to its previously postponed run.

The Cocoa Butter Club at Contact
Dance 9 February 2023 7:30 pm, from £10.00

The Cocoa Butter Club at Contact

Happening as part of Queer Contact 2023, expect a spiritful soiree packed with a blend of burlesque, live music, drag, voguing, hula hooping and lots more.

Gallifrey Cabaret at Contact
Theatre 10 February 2023 7:30 pm, from £10.00

Gallifrey Cabaret at Contact

Jump aboard for a night of cosmic drag and cabaret, all inspired by the popular TV show Doctor Who.

Cardboard Carnival at The Edge
Theatre 11 February 2023 11:30 am, from £6.00

Cardboard Carnival at The Edge

An inspirational and visual treat that combines Camille Saint-Saëns’ music with puppetry and a whole lot of cardboard.

The Bitten Peach presents Peach Chutney at Contact
Comedy 11 February 2023 7:30 pm, from £10.00

The Bitten Peach – Peach Chutney at Contact

Come and celebrate South Asian awesomeness with the Bitten Peach, the UK’s only gender-diverse Pan-Asian cabaret collective.

Fisayo Akinade at Queer Contact 2023
Festivals 12 February 2023 6:00 pm, from £10.00

50 Things That Shaped Me with Fisayo Akinade at Contact

Join Fisayo Akinade in conversation with Contact Artistic Director and CEO Keisha Thompson, as part of Contact’s 50th-anniversary celebrations.

Grandmother's Closet at Contact
Theatre 16 February 2023 7:00 pm, from £10.00

Grandmother’s Closet at Contact

An autobiographical musical adventure packed with mischief, divas and a tonne of heart.

An Audience with Milly-Liu at Contact
Comedy 16 February 2023 9:00 pm, from £10.00

An Audience with Milly-Liu at Contact

Following an award-winning run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, the “one-man-cat-drag-late-night comedy show” comes to Contact.

Lady Bushra: Robbed at Contact
Theatre 17 February 2023 7:30 pm, from £10.00

Lady Bushra: Robbed at Contact

For lovers of drag – Queer Contact 2023 brings the hilarious and iconic drag comedian, Lady Bushra to the stage.

Culture Guides


Black and white classics and a Tarantino-scripted pop-thriller are amongst our Valentine’s themed picks for February.


The world of art and exhibitions never quite stops, so we have lots of new shows to look forward to at the start of 2023.

The Spongebob Musical at the Manchester Opera House


New year, new start, and what better way to welcome in 2023 than by planning and experiencing all sorts of exciting family events in Manchester and the North?

Gwendoline Riley. Photo by Adrian Lourie


From local writing to international talent, we have heaps of online launches and in real life readings not to mention some extra special festival events coming our way in live literature land.


More brilliant gigs appear on the horizon as we inch further into 2023.

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Food and Drink

Start 2023 as you mean to go on, with the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

New years are for new experiences, and we have a whole lot of ideas to inspire you as 2023 gets underway.

Things to do right now

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