20 Great Things To Do In Manchester This October

From Grimmfest to Ladyfest, Design MCR to the Science Festival - it’s a festival feast this month...

Written by  Confidential Staff | Follow @ | Friday, 30 September 2016 17:32

Below you'll find twenty great things to do in Manchester this month, including the Olympic and Paralympic celebratory parade, Oktoberfest and a whole bunch of festivals. You can also find our monthly Top 10 gigs and concerts, theatre and comedy shows and art events and exhibitions here.


NEIGHBOURHOOD FESTIVAL | Citywide | Saturday 8 October

As if Manchester didn’t already boast a phalanx of local music fests, yet another enters the fray this year. Neighbourhood is ‘a brand new metropolitan music festival’: one day, ten venues (including Albert Hall, Gorilla and The Deaf Institute) and over 100 artists. Headlined by Circa Waves and Twin Atlantic, the line-up also includes a wealth of both established and emerging talent like Kate Nash and False Advertising. 

Various; tickets £30 at neighbourhoodfestival.co.uk.


JOURNEYS FESTIVAL | Citywide | 1-12 October

What with all the negative publicity surrounding immigration, this nationwide festival - celebrating the artwork, music, creativity, culture and experiences that refugee artists bring to the UK - is a breath of fresh air. Manchester’s programme includes container street art by acclaimed duo Nomad Clan, pop up theatre performances at the Royal Exchange, a film screening at Nexus, kite-making workshops and a takeover at Manchester Museum. 

Various; check the website. 

Nomad ClanNomad Clan



How better to celebrate National Poetry than with Manchester’s favourite poetry press, in the spectacular Victorian neo-Gothic surrounds of John Rylands Library? Carcanet’s second event in the Archive Hour series will see Nicholas Barker, Former Head of Conservation at the British Library, trace the journey of poetry right back to the ancient pictograms of the Near East and its appearance in Medieval European manuscripts - even touching on a time before writing. 

The Christie Room, John Rylands, 150 Deansgate, M3 3EH (6-7pm; tickets free but booking required at eventbrite.co.uk). 


MANCHESTER CURIOUS | Citywide | 6-9 October

Founded last year as part of the 150th Anniversary of the Manchester Architects, Manchester Curious draws inspiration from London Open House and Heritage Open Days; with the aim of opening the doors to some of the city’s finest buildings, discovering the secrets behind them and making accessible areas which are normally off-limits. Behind-the-scenes tours this year include Manchester Art Gallery, Old Granada Studios and Chetham’s School of Music. 

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, M2 3JL (various times; tickets from £2.50 at manchestercurious.com). 

Manchester Art GalleryManchester Art Gallery



Buy Art Fair may have closed its doors for another year but worry not if you didn’t manage to find the perfect piece. The North’s largest non-for-profit craft event is back this October with a Home & Gardens-worthy range of interior and fashion textiles, glass, jewellery, ceramics, metalwork, furniture, print-making and more. Browsers can also enjoy Craftworks; a programme of workshop, pop-ups and designer talks. More info here

Old Granada Studios, Quay Street, M3 3JE (various times; tickets from £6.50 at eventbrite.co.uk or on the door). 


GRIMMFEST | Printworks | 6-9 October

Yes, another 6-9 October - and that’s not even including Indy Man Beer Con (see below). In other words, make sure you’ve got this weekend free. So you’ve had your guided tours, your craft shopping...now it’s time to wind down with a trip to the cinema. Enter Grimmfest, which promises a plethora of movie premieres, celebrity guest Q&As and remastered classics for its eighth innings. Full line up here

Odeon, Printworks, 27 Withy Grove, M4 2BS (various times; tickets £25 at grimmfest.com). 

Another EvilAnother Evil


LADYFEST | Northern Quarter | 7-9 October

As the birthplace of suffrage, Manchester makes a fitting home for Ladyfest: ‘A celebration of music, art and ideas in the proud tradition of Manchester's talented, radical and creative women.’ Expect a fifteen-strong music line-up across The Castle and Gullivers plus empowering workshops and debates on some of the issues that women still face today. More info here

Various; check the website. 



Another festival, another roaring success. MLF was born out of Manchester Poetry Festival but now encompasses all genres, from world literature to rising stars and 80+ events. This year’s programme includes the Black and Asian Writers Conference, Thinkers & Drinkers Pub Tour and a Comic Art Masterclass; as well as leading authors like Zadie Smith, Rose Tremain and Michael Rosen

Various; check the website. 

Zadie SmithZadie Smith


DESIGN MCR | Citywide | 12-23 October

Another culture calendar staple, DM returns with the theme of Design City: celebrating how design underpins everything from our architecture to ‘craft’ beer. With 37 events across NQ bars and landmarks like RNCM and London Road Fire Station, highlights include Andrew Brooks’ Skyline, Women in Print and Ideas Worth Fighting For. Plus, don’t miss HOME’s special film season, screening design-led films like Dr. Strangelove and Fight Club.   

Various; check the website. 


OPEN STUDIOS | Rogue | 14-16 October

Artist collective Rogue turns 21 this year and is cementing its transition into adulthood with Open Studios; an annual highlight that offers public, curators and collectors the chance to meet over 90 resident artists. This will be the artists’ last event in Crusader Mill before relocating next year, meaning it’s your last chance to see their work in the characterful space. There will also be an exhibition, Excuse Me While I’m Changing, and a series of short artist films from Rogue Cinema. 

Rogue Artists’ Studios, 66-72 Chapeltown Street, Piccadilly, M1 2WH (Fri 6-9pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm; free). 

Liz WestLiz West


DASHEHRA DIWALI MELA | Albert Square | Saturday 15 October

Coupling the Hindu festivals of Deshehra - which commemorates the killing of the ten-headed demon King Ravan by Lord Ram - and Diwali ‘Festival of Lights’, this colourful celebration gives Albert Square the Bollywood treatment for one night only: from Bhangra dance to fireworks, lantern processions and a spectacular finale from arts organisation Walk the Plank - whose portfolio also includes Manchester Day and Pride. A magical evening guaranteed. 

Albert Square, M60 2LA (2-9pm; free). 


NORTHERN VEGAN FESTIVAL | Citywide | Saturday 15 October

Even for non-vegans, this has become a popular staple. We’re not so sure about vegan bodybuilding (eh?) but ingredients like cookery demos, expert talks and, of course, stalls (over 200 to be precise) have made it so. Venues include 3MT, Black Milk Cereal Kult and Sachas - with live music at the Wonder Inn and a vegan booze festival at the Thirsty Scholar keeping proceedings going until midnight and 3am respectively.     

Various venues (10am-6pm; £3 on the door). 

The Wonder InnThe Wonder Inn


A CAREFULLY PLANNED FESTIVAL | Northern Quarter | 15-16 October

It may describe itself as a ‘DIY’ affair but, with 160 acts across nine venues, ACP attracts over 2000 people nevertheless. The NQ indie fest prides itself on affordability and inclusivity, giving a glimpse of potential future iPod staples while they’re still relatively obscure. You might well discover your next favourite artist. The nurturing event even offers staff team picks and a nifty ‘clashfinder’. After more October music festivals? Check out Neighbourhood, Homegrown and the Now Wave All Dayer

Various (tickets from £14 at acpfestival.wordpress.com). 


RIO PARADE | City centre| Monday 17 October

Forget London, Manchester will be hosting the first Olympic and Paralympic parade - with the capital following suit the next day. Team GB’s record-breaking year will be honoured in the procession, expected to include golden couple (quite literally) Laura Trott and Jason Kenny and local hockey champs Kate Richardson-Walsh and Nicola White. More info here

Full travel details and parade route here.                                         

GB hockey teamGB hockey heroes


HUMANITIES IN PUBLIC FESTIVAL | Citywide | 17 October 2016 - 24 June 2017

Hip is probably not the first adjective you’d associate with a university ‘research showcase’ but Humanities in Public lives up to its acronym. Far from a series of dry lectures, events - this year centring on ‘Greater Manchester and Northern Identity’ - span a multilingual film festival to a modernist architecture bus tour and a radical pub quiz. Plus, of course, the ever-popular Gothic Festival

Various; check the website. 


OKTOBERFEST | Albert Square | 19-23 October

We’ve become rather nifty at borrowing the famous traditions of our Germanic neighbours - and, alongside the omnipresent Christmas markets, Oktoberfest is proof of the pudding. Expect a special Bavarian brew accompanied by bratwurst, schnitzel, oompa music - and even a lederhosen shop. While we’re on the subject of beer, there’s plenty more brewing this month with Didsbury Beer Festival and Indie Man Beer Con, which has a few tickets left for Thursday and Sunday sessions.    

Albert Square, M2 4JW (various times; free, packages available from manchester-oktoberfest.co.uk). 




With an ‘expand your mind’ motto at its core, this six-day shebang incorporates ‘literature, drama, music, comedy, current affairs, creative writing and spoken word.’ Philosophy lecturer Amy Ramsay wonders ‘why doesn’t Batman kill the Joker?’, political activist Owen Jones talks chavs and the establishment, Chocolat author Joanne Harris MBE discusses her latest novel Different Class..and that’s just for starters. 

Various; check the website. 


MANCHESTER SCIENCE FESTIVAL | Citywide | 20-30 October

It’s Manchester Science Festival’s tenth birthday this year and, as 2016 also marks the city’s tenure as European City of Science, a resoundingly Big Bang is needed - hence a meteoric programme spanning sensory sound pits to life hacks and nocturnal coffee tastings. Food and booze makes a welcome appearance too, which gin and rum tastings at Chetham’s and a microbe menu at the Runaway Brewery. You can also drop into the Chronarium - a public sleep laboratory at Manchester Arndale.

Various; check the website. 

The The Chronarium - MCR Sci Fest


WOMEN IN COMEDY FESTIVAL | Citywide | 20-30 October

Considering its resounding success over three years, it’s surprising this is still Europe’s only Women in Comedy Festival. And, with witty women like Angela Barnes (Mock the Week) Bethany Black (Cucumber and Banana) and Jen Brister (BBC 6 Music) treading the boards, it’s undoubtedly the continent’s loss. Set up as a reaction to the sidelining of women comics, the festival also includes open mic nights, exhibitions, workshops and panel sessions. 

Various; check the website.


FAMILY ARTS FESTIVAL | Salford and Trafford | 22-30 October

Handily for weary parents, October half term sees the return of the Family Arts Festival - this year including a clutch of interactive performances, with some lego music thrown in for good measure. And no doubt all generations will enjoy timeless classic Wind in the Willows at the Lowry. While you’re in Trafford, why not nip over to Dunham Massey for the stately home’s annual rut walks? Take in battles and bellows as the resident deer begin their battle for supremacy, then cap off with a hot drink and a bacon butty. 

Various; check the website.

Dunham MasseyDunham Massey

wakelet Powered by Wakelet