Manchester Art Gallery

Unmissable things to do in Manchester this April from


In the wake of nation-wide controversy, Manchester Art Gallery presents the first retrospective of work by British artist Sonia Boyce (until 22 July, free), looking back over her celebrated 30 year-long-career.

Just up the road from Manchester Art Gallery is The Portico Library, for their new exhibition, In So Many Words: Roget’s Thesaurus and the Power of Language (2 April–12 May, free), three contemporary artists have created new works based on research into the incalculable legacy of Peter Mark Roget, inventor of the thesaurus and a founding member of the library.

Since 1989, photographer Stuart Roy Clarke has been on a mission of epic proportions. Its goal: to capture the very heart, soul, sweat and tears of British football. Head to the National Football Museum for The Game: 30 years through the lens of Stuart Roy Clarke (until March 2019, free)

Did you know that the remarkable yellows of Turner’s sunsets came from the urine of mango-fed cows? Or that the reds of Raphael’s greatest masterpieces derived from cactus-dwelling bugs? The Alchemy of Colour at The John Rylands Library (until 27 August, free) explores the unusual stories behind some of art history’s most dazzling hues.

No trip to Manchester is complete without a trip down Oxford Road to the Whitworth. There's always good things to see here, our current favorite exhibition is a collection of work by one of Britain’s foremost sculptors, Alison Wilding (until 12 August, free), including a new piece that has never previously been publicly shown.


Introduced and presented by Nina Bernstein Simmons, youngest daughter of Leonard Bernstein, A Total Embrace: The Anniversaries of Leonard Bernstein at The Stoller Hall (16 April, from £6) features a recital of the 27 piano miniatures that make up the American’s ‘Anniversaries’, followed by a rare screening of the 2005 film A Total Embrace – itself a tribute to the late composer.

As part of ¡Viva!, HOME's Spanish and Latin American festival, Grammy-nominated punk cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies (20 April–5 May, from £10) perform their original music to tell this tale of a Corrido singer and his band, who return from the dead to haunt their killer.

After spending years on the road, Arizona-born Courtney Marie Andrews heads to Gorilla’(22 April, from £13.50) with her well-honed, heartfelt country sound – drawing plaudits from Ryan Adams and comparisons with Joni Mitchell along the way. With new record May Your Kindness Remain promising to be one of the albums of the year, now is the time to discover her.

Touring Damned Devotion, her first solo album since 2014, Brooklyn singer and multi-instrumentalist Joan As Police Woman visits The Stoller Hall (24 April, from £20). Joan has collaborated with the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons and Scissor Sisters over the years, as well as releasing half a dozen albums under her own stage name.


Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester's Ancoats area has been a sensation over the last couple of years. Their latest musical, Spring Awakening (29 March–3 May 2018, from £16) combines an electrifying rock score and genre-defying writing to tell the story of sexual and adolescent discovery.

Directed by the documentary theatre trailblazer Lola Arias, Minefield (12 - 14 April, from £10) sees six veterans from the 1982 Falklands War reunited. Another highlight from HOME's Spanish and Latin American festival, ¡Viva! 

Take the tram out to Sale for Last Resort (20 April, from £10) at Waterside Arts. Sit in your deck chair and sip on your rum cocktail – let 2Magpies Theatre be your holiday reps in an alternative future for Guantanamo Bay.


Spielberg’s original summer movie blockbuster Jaws (6 April, from £29.50) arrives at The Bridgewater Hall in April 2018 accompanied by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, who will perform John Williams’ Academy Award®-winning score live.

Thoroughbreds (6–13 April, from £5.74) is showing at Vue Printworks. American psychos: this polished thriller from first time director Cory Finley is all about wealthy suburbanites with a mean streak.

Cherishing both the epic scenery and traditional activities, this is a beautiful ode to Galicia and a call to arms to better protect our planet. Tempo (28 April, from £5.50) is a UK Premiere screened with a director Q&A and is another pick from ¡Viva!, HOME's Spanish and Latin American festival.


A mind-boggling 20 writers have been paired up to perform brand-new collaborative work for The European Camarade: Manchester (13 April, free) at International Anthony Burgess Foundation, part of the 10-day European Poetry Festival, taking place on Friday 13th. Unlucky for some, but not for you, the lover of live literature.

Carol Ann Duffy & Friends: Laureate’s Choice Special (25 April, from £11) at Royal Exchange Theatre features Natalie Burdett, John Fennelly and Keith Hutson, joined by 2016 alumnus Mark Pajak. Carol Ann Duffy will also be reading from her own world-renowned work and introducing daughter Ella Duffy.

Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward (Manchester Central Library, 27 April, from £7) crosses the pond to launch third novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, and discuss its themes of family issues and race relations in this Manchester Literature Festival and Centre for New Writing special.

Family picks

This month kicks off with a long Easter weekend and half term in Manchester. There's always plenty of great museums and art galleries to take the kids to, and we put together guides for things to do with babies and things to do with toddlers in Manchester, but here are some of our favorite family picks for April:

Soyuz TMA-19M: Tim Peake’s Spacecraft at Museum of Science and Industry (until 13 May, free) is an intergalactic family draw. Be among the first to see the Soyuz capsule that brought Tim Peake back to earth alongside his historic Space Suit as the Museum of Science and Industry becomes Mission Control this spring. 

Whilst you're there, don't miss out on the last chance to see Robots (until 15 April, from £5), a once-in-a-lifetime look at one of the largest collections of Robots. The exhibition is a mind-bending, 500 year journey to being human in a robotic world.

For something altogether more down to earth, head to Dunham Massey where they're hosting Super Senses Easter Egg Hunts (29 March–15 April, from £5). Use super senses to hunt down a chocolate reward in Britain’s largest winter garden as it springs to life with daffodils, crocuses and irises. Keep those eyes peeled for real bunnies too.