Whether it’s a full week of contemporary jazz, first-hand accounts of space exploration, world-famous theatre productions or ballistic black puddings, Manchester’s cultural calendar further reinforces its reputation as an international hub of creative diversity and innovation.

Here are some of this year’s culture highlights around the region.

From Moss Side to Marseille: The Art of Michael Browne and Eric Cantona | National Football Museum | Until Thu 1 Jun | £6-£11

Commissioned by the United legend and produced by artist Michael Browne in his ‘distinct figurative style’, ongoing exhibition From Moss Side to Marseille boldly interrogates inequality and injustice while exploring human rights and the impact of personal power with a collection inspired by the pair’s sporting heroes, all of whom dauntlessly advocated for social and political change without regard for personal cost.

Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG, Tel: 0161 605 8200
Traces of Displacement | The Whitworth | Fri 7 Apr - Sun 7 Jan 2024 | Free

Utilising The Whitworth Gallery’s extensive collection as a revelatory anthropological blueprint, Traces of Displacement gathers a fragmented yet compelling set of stories from a range of artists which collectively explore themes of persecution and resilience, alongside the lived experiences of creatives who, displaced in their homelands, have defiantly thrived in exile.


The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER, Tel: 01612757450
Manchester Jazz Festival | City Centre | Fri 19 May - Sun 28 May | Free-£35

Kicking off with a multi-stage weekend party in the vibrant First Street neighbourhood followed by a week of performances across seven beloved venues – Matt and Phred’s, The Stoller Hall, Band On The Wall, The Yard, Forsyth Music Shop, St. Ann’s Church and The Blues Kitchen – Manchester’s longest-running music festival features an unmissable lineup of contemporary jazz luminaries, including Jazz FM’s 2022 Soul Act of the Year-winner Mica Miller, funk trombonist Fred Wesley, trip-hop band Moby Dickless and many more.

First Street, Manchester, M15 4FN
Chris Hadfield | The Lowry | Sun 18 Jun | 3pm, 7.30pm | From £29

Having previously toured the UK in 2017 and 2018, esteemed celebrity astronaut Chris Hadfield returns to Manchester with previously untold stories of space voyages and human exploration to captivate audiences of all ages, as well as a Q&A, the latest discoveries from deep space and a profound discussion on the life-changing insights revealed by images from the James Webb telescope last year.

Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ, Tel: 0161 876 2000
Manchester International Festival | Factory International, City Centre | Thu 29 Jun - Sun 16 Jul | Free-£10

Featuring a headline residency from Janelle Monáe, theatre in the bowels of John Rylands Library starring Maxine Peake, a collaborative football art showcase co-curated by Juan Mata, a centrepiece exhibition full of imposing polka-dot inflatables and much more, the jewel in Manchester’s cultural crown returns to the city with its biggest-ever programme and the eagerly anticipated Factory International as its new headquarters.

Factory International, Water St, Manchester M3 4JQ
Sounds of the City | Castlefield Bowl | Thu 29 Jun - Sat 8 Jul | From £44.45

Already a cornerstone of the Manchester’s boundlessly diverse live music calendar, Sounds of the City returns for 2023 with a series of headline shows in Castlefield including Porcupine TreeBlossomsBastille and Hacienda Classical, with each performing across nine hazy, heady summer evenings in the city centre.

Castlefield Bowl, Rice St, Manchester, M3 4JR
Caribbean Rocks Festival | Bowlers Exhibition Centre | Sat 1 Jul | 1pm-11pm | From £29.70

Celebrating ‘all spectrums of Caribbean music, food and culture’, the annual Caribbean Rocks Festival takes over Bowlers Exhibition Centre with a full day and night of rum, Red Stripe, sumptuous street food, thrilling fairground rides and a constant supply of Dancehall, Soca and Reggae, with live performances from Valiant and Father Phillis.

BEC Complex, Longbridge Rd, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester, M17 1SN
Manchester Pride | City Centre | Fri 25 Aug - Mon 28 Aug | Free-£37.50

Following a triumphant 2022 instalment which won ‘Best Large Festival’ at the UK Festival Awards, Manchester Pride returns with six free events including the parade, a Candlelit Vigil, Family Pride, Youth Pride and Superbia Weekend alongside the smash-hit Gay Village Party (ticketed) in jubilantly unapologetic celebration of the LGBTQ+ community around Greater Manchester and beyond.

Tickets are now on sale, with the full lineup to be announced imminently.

, Tel: 0161 831 7700
The World Black Pudding Throwing Championships | Ramsbottom | Mon 11 Sept | 11am-4pm | Free

For a joyously unique antidote to the late summer Monday Blues – or a physical representation of them so viscerally surreal that you flee on foot – head to Ramsbottom’s World Black Pudding Throwing Championships, during which teams from Yorkshire and Lancashire take it in turns to hurl discs of stiffened pig’s blood at the top of an imposing 20-foot plinth, upon which sits a pile of rapidly softening Yorkshire puddings.

The Oaks, Bridge Street, Ramsbottom, Lancashire, BL0 9AD
Grayson Perry: A Show All About You | The Lowry | Sun 8 Oct | 7.30pm | From £29

Billed as a ‘mischievous look at the nature of identity’, groundbreaking artist and ‘white, male, heterosexual, able bodied, English, southerner, baby boomer and member of the establishment’ Grayson Perry unpacks the curious, perverse modern trinity of individualism, the internet and culture wars, and their combined psychological impact on our sense of self at every level.

Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ, Tel: 0161 876 2000
Danny Boyle: Free Your Mind | Factory International | Fri 13 Oct - Sun 5 Nov | £10-£40

Created specially for the officially opening of Factory International, world-renowned Radcliffe-born director Danny Boyle presents Free Your Mind, a daring audiovisual dance odyssey featuring jaw-dropping visual effects, a cast of professional dancers and hundreds of Mancunian participants.  Conceived as an immersive reimagination of The Matrix, the bold and timely ‘statement of intent’ includes choreography by Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, music by Michael Asante, original work from playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz and stage sculptures by designer Es Devlin.

Factory International, Water St, Manchester M3 4JQ
Hamilton | Palace Theatre | Sat 11 Nov - Sat 24 Feb | 2.30pm, 9.30pm | From £13

Running in Manchester for 15 straight weeks as part of its first ever UK tour, Lin Manuel-Miranda’s multi-award-winning cultural phenomenon arrives at the Palace Theatre on Sat 11 Nov. Charting the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, the production recounts ‘the story of America then, as told by America now’ with inimitable genre-bending verve and endlessly inventive lyricism.

While Hamilton is widely anticipated to be Manchester’s theatre event of the year, the incredible length of its City Centre run means plenty of good tickets are still available to book.

97 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6FT, Tel: 0844 871 7627
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Thu 16 Mar 2023