Naomi Kashiwagi at John Rylands Library for Manchester After Hours 2017 by Ben Williams

Manchester After Hours (17 May, various venues) returns this year as part of the UK-wide ‘Lates’ festival for the culturally curious. This year’s Manchester After Hours is a smaller-than-usual affair as the organisers consider how to take the event forward. Nevertheless, it’s another exciting one-night programme of post 5pm activity spread across many of the city’s most loved venues; from the John Ryland’s Library to the Whitworth, via the Centre For Contemporary Chinese Art, Manchester Art Gallery, Castlefield Gallery and The Portico Library.


David Fesl. Image courtesy of Castlefield Gallery

With a mouthful of a title, Castlefield Gallery’s upcoming exhibition – Oh, it is easy to be clever if one does not know all these questions (17 May–1 July, free entry) – initiates a conversation between early career artists in Manchester and Prague. You can catch the preview as part of Manchester After Hours.

Attempting to link the monumental time scales of minerals and ores to the instantaneous transfer of digital information is quite an undertaking, yet machines will watch us die (until 11 May, free entry) at The Holden Gallery does just that.

Who was Manchester’s first paid female curator? What are the experiences of Manchester’s female curators today? Bertha: Seen & Heard (8–10 May, free entry) at The Horsfall is an exhibition and event programme that aims to ‘turn up’ the conversation about Manchester’s female curators.

Elsewhere, Savage Ink: The Cartoon & The Caricature (until 13 May, free entry) ends at People’s History Museum as well as Manchester Art Gallery’s retrospective of work by British artist Sonia Boyce (until 22 July, free entry), there’s a final chance to see Syria: A Conflict Explored (until 28 May 2018, free entry), Imperial War Museum’s season of exhibitions and events that attempt to cut through the complexity surrounding the Syrian crisis, and the excellent The Game (free entry) photography exhibition at National Football Museum.


Royal Exchange Theatre

Following the success of Hamlet, The Skriker and A Streetcar Named Desire, Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake continue their creative collaboration with a revival of Beckett’s surrealist masterpiece, Happy Days (Royal Exchange Theatre, 25 May–23 June, from £17.00).

Before Peake and co takeover the Exchange, physical theatre company RashDash have rehashed Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters in a fierce new reimagining of the classic text.

Three Sisters By RashDash After Chekhov (Royal Exchange Theatre, 3–19 May, from £11).

Marking the 80th anniversary of Kindertransport (Manchester Opera House, 1–5 May, from £15), Diane Samuels’ deeply stirring play depicts one woman’s struggle to accept her past at the Opera House. It’s only here until 5th of May, so be quick!

Audiences are set to be served a slice of Nigel Slater’s Toast (The Lowry, 22 May–6 June, from £20) in a specially commissioned Week 53 world première at The Lowry. Quite frankly, they had our money when we saw the title of the show.


Sounds From the Other City 2017 - Ben Williams

Sounds From The Other City (Islington Mill, 6 May, from £27.75) is a true highlight of the Manchester music calendar, as it goes strength to strength in celebrating new music and performances – as well as some of Salford’s lesser-spotted venues. Acts set to feature in 2018 include DUDS, Anna Burch, Barbarossa, Pearl City, Spectrum and Have You Ever Seen the Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? The event is almost always a sell out – so book right now.

We’re very excited by RNCM’s summer season. Their Symphony Orchestra’s first outing of this summer season sees the ensemble perform contrasting works by Bartók, Saint-Saëns and Brahms – all for just £5 (RNCM Symphony Orchestra at Royal Northern College of Music, 3 May, from £5). It’s worth check out their entire summer line-up and start planning dates in the diary.

Here and Now: a tour of The Whitworth art gallery through music (17 May, from £6.50) and art is a one-off, two-hour-long tour – part of Manchester After Hours – showcasing four brand new musical works inspired by The Whitworth’s collection, alongside existing pieces by Judd Greenstein, Michael Gandolfi and David Fennessy – all performed by new music ensemble Psappha.

BBC Philharmonic return to The Bridgewater Hall (9 May 2018, from £12). Tasmin Little performs Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto. Piercing, passionate, fiery and free, it’s arguably the first modern violin concerto, and makes tremendous demands on any soloist who chooses to take it on.

In Vivaldi Rocks (The Stoller Hall, 31 May 2018, from £22), Hugo Ticciati combines Vivaldi Concertos with arrangements of music by Muse, Metallica and Dream Theatre – demonstrating that the Baroque composer’s work was just as raucous during his lifetime as anything today’s rock stars can offer.

Cinema & Literature

Pilot Light TV Festival

Manchester’s very own television festival is back. The highlights of this year’s Pilot Light TV Festival (HOME, 3–6 May, from £5.50) include the Season 2 premiere of Westworld and visits from Walter Iuzzolino and Christopher Eccleston.

Lean on Pete (4–10 May, from £5.50) is showing at HOME this May. British director Andrew Haigh crosses the Atlantic for this bleak, rhythmic western set on the margins of American society.

A twist on the usual literature festival, Altrincham Word Festival (Altrincham, 12–27 May, from £5) aims to kindle your own creativity by inviting some of the North West’s most talented writers to share their secrets to success in a series of hands-on workshops and events.

Creative non-fiction connoisseurs The Real Story ( The Kings Arms, 17 May, from £5) present a special Not Quite Light Festival evening of specially commissioned twilight stories from five amazing and award-winning women writers.

Join hilarious wordsmith John Hegley at Waterside in Sale (13 May, from £7) on an adventure through his living library of poems, songs, stories and animal drawings.



RNCM Young Company combines with The Circus House to present Letters (Royal Northern College of Music 25–26 May, from £10) – a new work featuring music, dance and acrobatics, which examines the shared experiences of Mancunians and Parisians over the past century.

Michael Rosen’s Chocolate Cake (Waterside, Sale, 30–31 May from £9), ia new musical adaptation of Rosen’s poem about the mysterious night-time disappearance of a chocolate cake.

MakeFest (MSI, 26–27 May, free entry) is back for 2018, taking over The Museum of Science & Industry for a weekend of coding, crafting and creating.

Head to The Bridgewater Hall for the annual BBC Philharmonic Family Concert (26 May, from £10.50). Feel the full force of brass, delicate swathes of strings and the windiest of woodwinds in a concert introduced by CBBC’s Lauren Layfield and Hacker T. Dog.




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