30 Things To Do In Manchester: Jan-Feb 2017

From the Strange & Familiar to Drake, here's 30 cracking things to do in Manchester over the cold, dark months

Written by  Vicky Smith | Follow @mcrconfidential | Tuesday, 3 January 2017 10:00

BELOW you'll find 30 of the best things to do in Manchester to brighten up those cold, dark months. Like this? Well then how about the Top 30 Things To Do In 2017?



WEISSLICH VOL.9 | The Wonder Inn | Friday 13 January

Founded in 2014, Weisslich is one of several composer-led ensembles - including the recently-established Manchester Collective - aiming to bring classical music to a contemporary audience, through innovative concert series that offer something different. Weisslich host the UK premiere of New York’s ensemble Pamplemousse for an evening of brand new experimental music and performance; accompanied by artists such as Miami-based maverick Robert Blatt. Expect ‘everything from trashy pop culture to highbrow academic music.’   

The Wonder Inn, 29 Shudehill, M4 2AF (7.30pm; tickets from £5 at eventbrite.co.uk or £8-10 on the door). 

TIM BURGESS | The Met | Friday 13 January

It might be an unlucky day but there’s nothing unfortunate about this gig, which sees The Charlatans’ frontman and Hacienda regular take to the newly-refurbished Bury Met for a DJ set in the Derby Hall. He of the blonde pudding bowl will be playing favourite tunes from a lively career which has seen him collaborate with The Chemical Brothers and work with band members spanning The Stone Roses to The Libertines and New Order. 

The Met, Market Street, Bury,  BL9 0BW (8pm; tickets £10 at themet.ticketsolve.com). 


COWTOWN | Soup Kitchen | 20 January

In acknowledgment of that common January symptom, the ailing bank account, Soup Kitchen are kindly hosting a gig with Leeds’ alternative indie rock band  Cowtown - and it’s completely free of charge. Cowtown will be joined by pop trio Peaness and four-piece Kyotoya. Soup Kitchen will also be one of the venues taking part in Independent Venue Week, which takes place later this month across the Northern Quarter. 

Soup Kitchen, 31-33 Spear Street, M1 1DF (7pm; free). 

CUTE OWL | Gullivers | Saturday 21 January

The experimental movement continues with an intimate festival of grassroots live music organised by Cute Owl Promotions - including the likes of: Tangerinecat, a ‘powerful post-electric-industrial duo’ from Ukraine; Cynthia’s Periscope, ‘confessional synth  pop’; and Code: Marla vs Spire Cranes, a ‘hybrid of dubstep, trap and post-rock using traditional rock instruments and modern electronic gadgetry’. Well, they did call it ‘eclectic.’ 

Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, M4 1LW (6.30pm; tickets £4 at skiddle.com). 


BLACK SABBATH | Manchester Arena | Sunday 22 January

Black Sabbath will open their final ever UK tour at Manchester Arena so this isn’t one to be missed if you’re a fan of ‘the greatest metal band of all time’ (MTV). Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler will be performing hits like Black Sabbath, Paranoid and Master of Reality - with support from American rock band Rival Sons. 

Manchester Arena, Victoria Station, Hunts Bank, M3 1AR (6pm; tickets from £60 at eventim.co.uk). 

KATE NASH | Gorilla | Tuesday 7 February

Brit award-winner Kate Nash will be at Gorilla at February, performing hits like Do-Wah-Doo and Foundations.  A founding director of the Featured Artists Coalition, Nash also uses her influence to platform to inspire teenage girls to make music - owing to the shortage of female artists in the UK - and campaigned against the arrest of Russian feminist band Pussy Riot. Collaborations include Lethal Bizzle, Willow Smith and Watsky. 

Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth Street, M1 5WW (7-11pm; tickets £15.40 at gorilla.seetickets.com). 


DRAKE | Manchester Arena | 11-12 February

Following his successful Summer Sixteen tour across the United States, Drake will be meeting Manchester as part of his ‘Boy Meets World’ tour. As the first artist to break 1 billion streams on Apple Music with latest album Views, also holding the most one hits on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop chart, the Grammy-award winning rapper looks set to continue his record-breaking roll, with seven dates already added to his latest tour owing to popular demand. 

Manchester Arena, Victoria Station, Hunts Bank, M3 1AR (7.30pm; tickets from £55 at eventim.co.uk). 

SLØTFACE | The Castle Hotel | Monday 13 February

Originally called Slutface, this Norwegian post-punk band had to change their name to a more, er, commercially-friendly moniker due to what the group termed ‘social media censorship.’ But it hasn’t slowed them down music-wise, after meeting critical acclaim for latest EP Empire Records, announcing a new tour and appearances at festivals from Eurosonic to SXSW and The Great Escape. Catch them while they’re still relatively undiscovered. 

The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, M4 1LE (7.30pm; free first come first served when liking the musicinbeta Facebook page or £5.50 tickets at ticketline.co.uk). 


SIGALA | O2 Ritz | Tuesday 14 February

We’re rarely more in need of some feel-good tuneage than in winter - fortunate, then, that Bruce Fielder aka Sigala (main image) is bringing his summery tracks to O2 Ritz following a sell-out debut live tour. After first single Easy Love went platinum, breaking Ministry of Sound’s pre-order record, Sigala continued with a string of hit follow-up singles including Sweet Lovin’ and Say You Do: cementing him as one of the decade’s most successful dance producers. 

O2 Ritz, Whitworth Street West, M15NQ (7pm; tickets £18 at ticketweb.co.uk). 

LEANN RIMES | Bridgewater Hall | Monday 20 February

As the youngest-ever Grammy award winner, scooping ‘best new artist’ at fourteen, Leann Rimes- perhaps best known for Coyote Ugly soundtrack Can’t Fight the Moonlight - celebrates two successful decades in country pop with the release of latest album Remnants. She’ll be at the Bridgewater Hall performing from an extensive back catalogue spanning over 37 million record sales worldwide. 

Bridgewater Hall, Lower Mosley Street, M2 3WS (7pm; tickets from £29.50 at tickets.bridgewater-hall.co.uk). 


PUSH FESTIVAL | HOME | 14-28 January

HOME’S annual celebration of regional film, theatre and visual art is back; with a typically miscellaneous selection of performance, workshops and discussions spanning Franz Kafka to Vogue, the refugee crisis to bureaucracy. Highlights include The Mill Theatre Company’s I’m Standing Next To You, Fly in Your Soup’s evocative puppet performance of Betty and Islington Mill's Temporary Custodians

HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, M15 4FN (various; check the website). 

EDUCATING RITA | Bolton Octagon | 19 January -11 February

Frank has almost given up completely. Having abandoned his ambition to be a poet, and tiring of teaching undergraduate English students, he reflects morosely on his lot. That is until Rita walks in: a 26-year-old, married hairdresser who has decided to take control of her life and earn herself an education. With Bolton Octagon and Derby Theatre’s adaption of Willy Russell’s comedic tale of self discovery, an uplifting winter warmer is guaranteed. 

Bolton Octagon, Howell Croft South, Bolton, BL1 1SB (2pm & 7.30pm; tickets from £11 at octagonbolton.co.uk). 


SWEET CHARITY | Royal Exchange | Until 28 January

With a staple of familiar hits - from Big Spender to Rhythm of Life - Sweet Charity is one of the most definitive musicals of all time. Following hapless protagonist Charity Hope Valentine in her tumultuous search for belonging, the Broadway classic tackles popular themes of love and success with ‘brilliant performances, stunning choreography - and brass. Lots of brass.’ Will Valentine find her happily ever after? 

Royal Exchange, St Ann's Square, M2 7DH (2.30pm & 7.30pm; tickets from £16.50 at royalexchange.co.uk). 

TAKE BACK: AMERICA | The Comedy Store | Monday 23 January

Formed by photographer Grant Archer and actors Rebekah Harrison and Julie Hesmondhalgh (Corrie’s Hayley, below), Take Back Take ‘uses script in hand performances as a springboard for debate.’ With small audiences and big questions, the grassroots theatre initiative explores some of the greatest social issues of our time - and the American election is no exception. This may be the only time you’ll get to discuss Mr Trump’s inauguration with a much-needed splash of comedy. 

The Comedy Store, Arches 3 and 4 Deansgate Locks, Whitworth Street West, M1 5LH (8pm; tickets from £5 at thecomedystore.co.uk). 


JOSH HOWIE | The Lowry | Sunday 29 January 

Fresh from creating and starring in his own BBC Radio 4 sitcom, Josh Howie is embarking on his first UK tour with his painfully honest brand of stand up comedy. Renowned for his writing talent, the storyteller has performed with Eddie Izzard, sold out stand up shows across the globe and appeared on channels from Dave to Sky Movies. Howie will be at The Lowry with new tour Messed Up: expect more family antics and his signature dose of fearless wit.    

The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ (8pm; tickets from £10 at tickets.thelowry.com). 

NARVIK | HOME | 31 January - 4 February

Present day. Liverpool. All alone, an old man falls in a basement and loses consciousness. World War Two. Norway. A courageous young sailor falls in love. Beautifully adapted by Box of Tricks as part of their tenth anniversary season, Lizzie Nunnery’s Narvik is the story of one couple pulled together then torn apart by war, as the events of one summer cause ripples across an ocean of time. 

HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, M15 4FN (7.45pm; tickets £12 at homemcr.org). 


GASLIGHT | Oldham Coliseum | 3-8 February

As the gas lights flicker in the drawing room and the floorboards creak overhead, newlywed Bella Manningham becomes convinced that she’s losing her mind just as her mother - consigned to the asylum - did before her. Is the terror all in her mind or are there dark secrets dwelling in her home? The surprise arrival of retired detective Rough leads to a discovery that shakes her respectable marriage to the core, as Oldham Coliseum reawaken Patrick Hamilton’s Victorian mystery thriller. Directed by Robin Herford, who directed The Woman In Black, this isn't one for the faint-hearted... 

Oldham Coliseum, Fairbottom Street, Oldham, OL1 3SW (2.30pm & 7.30pm; tickets from £14.50 at patronbase.com). 

FUNNY GIRL | Palace Theatre | 18-25 February

Funny Girl brought global fame to Barbra Streisand 50 years ago, with iconic hits like People and Don’t Rain On My Parade. Now, following a record-breaking, critically-acclaimed West End run, Oliver award-winning protagonist Sheridan Smith heads up north with ‘the utterly irresistible’ tale of Fanny Brice - whose vocal talents and comedic ability see her rise from Brooklyn music hall singer to Broadway star. 

Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford Street, M1 6FT (2.3pm & 7.30pm; tickets from £18 at atgtickets.com). 


STU GOLDSMITH | XS Malarkey | 21 February

Not only is he a comedian himself, Stu Goldsmith presents the popular ‘Comedian’s Comedian’ podcast, which has seen him quiz everyone from Sarah Millican to Matt Lucas and Jimmy Carr - meaning, no doubt, he’s picked up a few tips on what constitutes a good chuckle from some of the UK’s leading laugh purveyors. Goldsmith himself has won awards internationally and The Times dubbed him an ‘expert stand-up.’ 

XS Malarkey, Pub/Zoo, 126 Grosvenor Street, M1 7HL (7pm; tickets £3.30 at wegottickets.com). 

BEAUTIFUL MONSTER | Salford Arts Theatre | 28 February - 4 March

Another horror being revived this winter is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with Karlton Parris’ Beautiful Monster. Much like Frankenstein’s monster itself, the tale is a hybrid - fusing Shelley’s original tale with the misfortunes of her later life and modern-day fiction. Ghosts, secrets and insanity: expect skeletons of every persuasion to come out the closet in this darkly brooding penny dreadful. 

Salford Arts Theatre, Kemsing Walk, Salford M5 4BS (7.30pm; tickets from £12 at ticketsource.co.uk).


SONIC THE HEDGEHOG | Castle Fine Art | From 2 December

SEGA is commemorating Sonic’s silver anniversary with an exhibition of 25 specially-commissioned works, in partnership with Washington Green Fine Art. Featuring works by some of the UK’s leading contemporary artists - including Robert Oxley, one of Confidential’s 10 Manchester Artists You Need to Know About - the showcase sees the iconic hedgehog take a break from racing through video games as he’s reimagined in mediums spanning neon to aluminium and acrylic on canvas. 

Castle Fine Art, various venues 

DEANNA PETHERBRIDGE | The Whitworth | 2 December - 4 June

With her detailed pen and ink depictions of colonialism and industrialisation, Petheridge challenges preconceptions of fine art; often primarily concerned with painting rather than drawing. Inspired by the diverse landscapes and cultures found from the West to the Far East, the collection spans Islamic design to rustic Umbrian dwellings and Manchester’s industrial cast-iron structures over 40 distinctive pieces. 

The Whitworth, Oxford Road, M15 6ER (10am-5pm, until 9pm Thurs; free). 


WYNFORD DEWHURST: MANCHESTER’S MONET | Manchester Art Gallery | 9 December - 23 April

With the first retrospective of the English impressionist painter and art theorist since his death in 1941, MAG shines a light on the ‘Monet of Manchester’, who grew up here studying law before moving to Paris at 27 to train as an artist. Claude Monet became his principal mentor, reflected in shimmering sunlit paintings such as The Picnic. Also a theorist, Dewford provoked controversy when he claimed that ‘the French artists simply developed a style which was British in its conception.’ 

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, M2 3JL (10am-5pm, Thurs until 9pm; free). 

BE ILLUMINATED | Lowry Hotel | Until 17 January

Think lighting is limited to mundane IKEA lampshades and minimalist fitted spotlights? Wrong. Roger ‘Papi’ Taylor turns the practical into vibrant works of art, with his hand-sculpted light fittings. Mermaids sit alongside neon hearts and daggers, and swallows swoop down walls; accompanied by spray-painted butterflies and even interactive wings. Curated by established art dealers Comme Ca Art, this is one exhibition that promises to be illuminating in more ways than one. 

Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearmans Place, Salford, M3 5LH (daily; free entry).    



One of very few exhibitions devoted to the Muslim contribution to WW1, this exhibition presents a perspective on the events of 1914-1918 not often found in UK history textbooks. With 400,000 Muslim Indian soldiers and tens of thousands of Arabs amongst those contributing to the war efforts, it’s believed at least 89,000 Muslims died fighting on the British side. A virtual tour of the exhibition can also be found online

British Muslim Heritage Centre, College Road, Whalley Range, M16 8BP (various times; free entry). 

GLUT | Holden Gallery | 16 January - 3 March

With over 1.5 billion images uploaded every day, media consumption has never exerted such a huge influence on our lives. And, far from just selfies, over 6 million CCTV cameras throughout the UK mean we often appear on surveillance photography without even knowing it. In the midst of this unprecedented growth, Glut sees various artists make sense of a world teeming with images via topics from (in)visibility to data appropriation. 

Holden Gallery, MMU, Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, M15 6BR (Mon-Fri 10am-4.30pm, Thurs until 7pm; free). 


STRAWBERRY 50 | Stockport Museum | 27 January 2017 - 28 January 2018

It’s not only Sonic the Hedgehog celebrating a major anniversary this year, as Strawberry Studios turns 50 with a year-long exhibition of memorabilia and mementoes that celebrates its colourful legacy. For over 25 years, Strawberry was one of the UK’s most important recording studios; frequented by the likes of The Stone Roses, Joy Division and Sir Paul McCartney. The exhibition kicks off with an opening event on 27 January, followed by optional elevenses at a local coffee house. 

Stockport Museum, 30-31 Market Place, SK1 1ES (11am-5pm; free).   

JOHN HYATT: ROCK ART | HOME | 4 February - 29 March

‘John of all Trades’ - artist, musician, punk professor and one third of infamous eighties post-punk band The Three Johns - Hyatt hits HOME with a typically eclectic  exhibition spanning post-death to painting, magic to metamorphosis: exploring our increasingly unstable and challenging relationships to the world around us. Browse through John’s unique comic book collection, enjoy a limited edition of Hyatt-as-a-blend-of-tea and prepare to be surprised and intrigued at every turn… 

HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, First Street, M15 4FN (various times; free). 


NEVER GOING UNDERGROUND | People’s History Museum | 25 February - 3 September

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts in England and Wales, a milestone which signified a gradual shift in attitudes towards LGBT+ rights in 1967. PHM’s visionary exhibition comes after almost two years of intensive research into the tumultuous tale of ‘pride and prejudice’, and will be accompanied by a full season of events. With the Alan Turing Law - which was to pardon 75,000 people criminally convicted of homosexuality - talked out of court in October, it’s never been more relevant. 

People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, M3 3ER (10am-5pm; free entry). 

STRANGE AND FAMILIAR  | Manchester Art Gallery | Until 29 May

After a successful stint in London earlier this year, the Barbican’s perceptive exhibition may have been slightly diminished for its temporary Manchester home but all 22 artists are represented nevertheless. Curated by renowned photographer Martin Parr, 200 photos by leading international photographers - from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Bruce Gilden and Evelyn Hoffer - reflect how Britain has been perceived by those outside its borders from the 1930s to the present day: particularly relevant as Brexit calls into question what ‘British’ really means.  

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, M2 3JL (10am-5pm, until 9pm on Thurs; free).