Unmissable things to do in Manchester this April from those intrepid culture writers at creativetourist.com

Theatre in Manchester

Cheese and pineapple sticks, shagpile carpets and spider plants…Mike Leigh’s seminal play and most celebrated comedy comes, Abigail’s Party (Manchester Opera House, 8-13 Apr) to Manchester.

West Side Story (Royal Exchange, 6 Apr - 25 May): Powerful and fast-paced and heart-breaking, we’re thrilled that Sarah Frankcom is set to direct a brand-new version of this iconic musical.

For its 24th edition, ¡Viva! (22 Mar - 13 Apr) returns with a HOME-wide celebration of film, theatre and visual art from across Spain and Latin America.

Rita, Sue and Bob Too (The Lowry, 9-13 Apr) gives a vivid portrait of two girls caught between a brutal childhood and an uncompromising future.

Following the critical success of The Father, the Coliseum revisits the urgent topic of dementia in Visitors (Oldham Coliseum, 18 Apr - 4 May), Barney Norris’ first full-length work for the stage.

Adored across the board by audiences and critics, The King and I (Opera House, 26 Apr - 11 May) is a celebration of the very best in romantic musical theatre.

Music in Manchester

Inspired by John Bunyan’s novel, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ opera The Pilgrim’s Progress (RNCM, until  6 Apr) will be one of the highlights of RNCM’s Spring Season.

A meditation on the concept of memory, trauma and loss as viewed from the eyes of five disparate characters. Fivestones (Royal Northern College of Music, 2-6 Apr) challenges current forms of theatre and concert hall performance whilst forcing us to think about how we can challenge the ways we deal with commemorating horrific events in the modern world.

Combining the prepared piano with electro-acoustic techniques, the music of Kelly Moran (Band on the Wall, 4 Apr) is as mesmerising as it is unique.

The final symphony completed by Franz Schubert before the composer’s death at just 31, the epic Ninth is ‘Great’ in both nickname and nature. Before it, Clemens Schuldt directs the brilliant Alina Pogostkina in Prokofiev’s riveting First violin concerto. Also this evening – a homage to French Baroque music from Thomas Adès. BBC Philharmonic (Bridgewater Hall, 6 Apr).

Hotly tipped by everyone from the BBC’s Steve Lamacq to NPR Radio’s Bob Boilen, Manchester-based folk artist Chloe Foy (The Castle, 6 Apr) is one to watch for 2019.

Following his acclaimed new album Assume Form, James Blake (Victoria Warehouse, 7 Apr) making a stop in Manchester will be one of the most exciting gigs of the spring season.

Renowned pianist and Oscar-nominated film composer Hauschka (Royal Northern College of Music, 10 Apr) returns to the city to perform his new record, A Different Forest.

Record Store Day brings together hundreds of the UK’s independent record shops to celebrate their unique culture. Here are some of the best spots for Record Store Day in Manchester (13 Apr).

BBC Philharmonic favourite John Wilson (The Bridgewater Hall, 13 Apr) returns to celebrate our green and pleasant land with this all-English programme, taking in Vaughan Williams’s impassioned Fourth Symphony, Bax’s reflections on autumn and Walton’s iconic Violin Concerto – performed by acclaimed Canadian soloist James Ehnes.

Part concert part theatrical monologue, hear the testament of Carlo Gesualdo the Italian Renaissance composer, after murdering his wife and her lover, interspersed with his intricate choral compositions. Breaking the Rules: The Marian Consort (Bridgewater Hall, 17 Apr).

Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Niamos Centre and the 16th anniversary of Nina Simone’s death, The Untold Orchestra will perform her best works. Nina: An Orchestral Rendition (The Niamos Centre, 21 Apr).

In support of their new album Big Wows, Liverpool’s electro-pop darlings Stealing Sheep (27 Apr) are playing not one but two shows at YES this April.


Exhibitions in Manchester

For her solo exhibition, Mystic Lamb and Silicone Prophets (PAPER 13 Apr - 11 May), Rui Matsunaga presents a new series of drypoint etchings that reference Van Eyke’s Ghent altarpiece, ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’.

Intrigued by the fact that visitors often ask why Touchstones Rochdale doesn’t show more of the over 1500 works in the Borough’s fine art collection, artist Harry Meadley set the gallery the challenge of attempting to display as much of the collection as possible in a single exhibition. Harry Meadley: But what if we tried? (Touchstones Rochdale, until 1 Jun).

Marking Jennie Franklin’s first solo exhibition, Well Done, Good Draw (Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre, until 28 Apr) brings together a new series of drawings on different mediums.

For EDIT.04, British-Irish choreographer Joe Moran prepares to transform The Lowry’s gallery space into a ‘live exhibition’ combining performance, film and spray paint drawing. EDIT.04 Live Creations: Joe Moran / Dance Art Foundation (The Lowry, until 14 Apr).

Working Class Movement Library presents a guest exhibition about Sylvia Pankhurst and her companion, Silvio Corio, illustrating the lifelong activities of this couple in spearheading campaigns centred on social justice, human rights and anti-fascism. Sylvia and Silvio (Working Class Movement Library, 29 Mar - 23 May).

CFCCA presents Chinternet Ugly (Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, until 12 May)  – a group exhibition that offers a rare glimpse behind the biggest digital boundary in the world: the Great Firewall of China.

Sixteen (venues across Manchester, until 15 Apr) is a nationwide photographic project that gives voice to the next generation of young people across Great Britain, who will live in a politically reshaped country divorced from the European Union.

Martin Parr: Return to Manchester (Manchester Art Gallery, until 22 April) shows how the lives of Mancunians have changed but also reveals how there is continuity in how we live our lives, capturing the familiar in a new and wry way.

Literature in Manchester

The European Camarade (Burgess Foundation, 13 Apr) is part of the European Poetry Festival, which sees nine events in two weeks unite over 70 of Europe’s most innovative and dynamic literary and avant-garde poets in Dublin, London, Norwich and Manchester.

Join best-selling The Humans and Reasons To Stay Alive author Matt Haig (HOME, 15 Apr)  for his guide to navigating the modern world, as outlined in his new memoir, Notes On A Nervous Planet.

Mathematician and author Jonathan Swinton reads from and discusses his new book Alan Turing’s Manchester (Portico Library, 15 Apr) about the codebreaker and computer expert’s professional and personal life in the city.

Almost 35 years since his debut Less Than Zero, American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis (Royal Northern College of Music, 26 Apr) has published his first book of non-fiction, White, which he discusses in his first UK event of 2019.

Cinema in Manchester

A homicide detective’s investigation into the shooting of a leading astrophysicist and black-hole expert destabilises her view of the universe and herself, in Carol Morley’s adaptation of Martin Amis’ Night Train. Out of Blue (HOME, until 4 Apr).

Join Manchester’s big queer film club Make A Scene for a quote-a-long all-singing all-dancing, way-too-interactive screening of Showgirls (Manchester235 Casino, 5 Apr) in a casino.

For its 24th edition, ¡Viva! (until 23 Apr) returns with a HOME-wide celebration of film, theatre and visual art from across Spain and Latin America.

Grimmfest presents an Alien Invasion Sci-Fi Horror Double Bill (Stockport Plaza, 25 Apr), supported by Horror Channel.

Two of America’s finest, most charismatic film actors come together for the first time on screen in Michael Mann’s stylish and intelligent thriller.Manchester Classic Films Present Heat (Odeon, Great Northern, 27 Apr).

Tours & Activities in Manchester

Create your own bespoke T-shirt or tote bag using lofi screen printing methods with a helping hand from Salford Makers (6 Apr, Islington Mill).

Design and print your own marbled textures with another workshop at Salford Makers (9 Apr, Islington Mill).

Visit the stunning Victoria Baths now that the building has reopened for Summer. Get to know the stories of bathers and activists whose continuing work could one day lead to the baths reopening as a working swimming pool. Victoria Baths Tours (Most Wednesdays at 2pm).

Take part in this drop in activity where you can find out how photography can be used to manipulate and change messages. Create your own filters and distort images in your own act of creative disobedience. Make Your Mark with Photography (People’s History Museum, 10 Apr).

Take a closer look at some of the Whitworth Art Gallery’s collection while gaining a better understanding of the context in which the pieces were created. The free tours run daily from 2 pm. Whitworth Art Gallery Daily Tour.

Discover a world of escapism behind the Royal Exchange’s stage door as well as learning about the history of this architecturally fascinating theatre. Royal Exchange Backstage Tour (until 18 July).


Family things to do in Manchester

Join Percy the Park Keeper (Dunham Massey, until 9 Jun) and his woodland friends on the first of four seasonal activity trails across the year. Based on the new book ‘One Springy Day’ by Nick Butterworth.

The UK’s first immersive exhibition of the much-loved tales of Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler. Expect enchanting forests, miniature towns and watery worlds. A World Inside a Book: Gruffalo, Dragons and Other Creatures (Z-arts, 12 Feb–26 Oct).

Strut down to the Science and Industry museum for scientific style inspiration. You won’t look at your wardrobe in the same way again. Fashion Fun (Science and Industry Museum, 6-22 Apr).

Explore the garden at Lyme and take the whole family on a nature adventure. Complete the trail to receive a chocolate prize. Easter Egg Hunt (Lyme, 6-28 Apr).

Art Will Not Be Silent: Wearable Art Workshop (CFCCA, 13 Apr). This practical workshop for families guides you through making your own wearable piece of art with internationally exhibited artist Pui Lee. For ages 3 years plus. All materials will be provided.

The People’s History Museum (Open daily, 10am - 5pm) is a recent winner of the national “Kids In Museums” award. Visit this national museum of democracy for interactive family galleries and regularly changing creative events.

Head to Manchester Art Gallery (Open daily, 10am - 5pm), grab a free toolbelt activity kit and adventure around this Grade I-listed gallery which makes art headlines around the world for all the right reasons.




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