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Manchester events calendar

Plan ahead with the Time Out guide to Manchester events

There's always a lot going on in Manchester, with every year dishing up a diverse selection of festivals, fairs, celebrations, concerts, community bits and bobs, seasonal stuff and special events at museums, galleries and attractions. And in order for you to plan ahead - armed with all the information you need for a fun-filled year - we've put together our Manchester events calendar. Don't miss out, get stuck in.

Autumn events 2015

Half term in Manchester

This October half term hits just before Halloween so before the trick or treating starts, here are some things to do designed to stop them going berserk

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By: Rob Martin

Halloween in Manchester

For lovers of the macabre, there are always plenty of Halloween events taking place throughout Manchester to celebrate the eve of the Christian All Hallow’s Day. See what's happening this year in Manchester.

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Manchester Literature Festival

Out of the ashes of the successful Manchester Poetry Festival comes the spreading wings of the full blown Literature Festival which has been bringing high quality live literature events to the city since 2006. Various venues across the city provide the settings for readings, discussions and special events, be they examinations of particular works or good old fashioned book signings. 
Date: 12 -25 October
Various Manchester venues 

Manchester Science Festival

This innovative celebration of science has been cleverly established by the Museum of Science, and Industry, driving continued interest in the subject by producing a playful and imaginative exploration and celebration of our scientific past, present and future.
Date: 22 Oct - 1 Nov
Various Manchester venues

Winter events 2015/2016

Christmas markets

From mid November to just before Christmas, the city centre of Manchester is taken over by an enormous Santa with more than a passing resemblance to Homer Simpson, and a huge pine scented dollop of festive spirit. Expect tin toys, ceramics, paintings, jewellery knitwear and things you have to ask about because you're not sure what they are.
Date Fri 14 Nov - Sun 21 Dec
Albert Square and surrounding areas

Christmas lights switch on

Early in November, Albert Square prepares for Christmas and the arrival of the Christmas markets. Santa gets taken out of storage and pieced together outside the town hall, fairy lights adorn the trees and the anticipation of the festive spirit starts to hang in the air.
Date early Nov
Albert Square

Ice skating

What could be more fun than the fear of breaking an ankle or having your fingers sliced off, thus avoiding any wrapping of gifts? If your idea of ice skating is a nightmare before Christmas, there's as much fun to be had watching as there is doing, as ice rinks spring up around the region.
Date Nov 2014 - Jan 2015
Various venues in Manchester

Manchester Beer & Cider Festival

You wouldn't think that Manchester's outstanding velodrome would make for the most obvious of venues for a festival celebrating real ale, but this new annual event, started in January 2014, returns bigger than ever. The Festival is brought to us by the Manchester branches of the Campaign for Real Ale. With an expected 60,000 pints pulled, maybe the need to campaign is officially over.
Date January dates tbc
Manchester Velodrome

Chinese New Year

As home to the third largest Chinatown in Europe, Manchester has long celebrated Chinese New Year in and around the couple of blocks comprising the area. It has always drawn a huge crowd of people keen to see the Chinese dragon and sample the celebrations of the many restaurants getting involved.
Date February
Various Manchester venues

Future Everything Festival

Anyone thinking that this hugely successful festival (which originated in Manchester in 1995) is a bit geeky would probably not be proven wrong by a glance at their website. Describing the event as 'an award winning innovation lab for digital culture', it claims to make connections between 'thinkers, developers, coders, artists, designers, urbanists and policy makers'. Blimey. 
Date February
Various Manchester venues

Spring events 2016

Irish Festival

Live music, dance, comedy, sport and drinking events are all in the line up and there's an arts based programme too which includes exhibitions, cookery and more. The emphasis is on a party atmosphere but it's very inclusive and families can enjoy the festival as much as the hardened pub-crawlers.
Date tbc March 2016
Various Manchester venues 

¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival

¡Viva! was 20 years old in 2014, making it one of the longest running of all of the festivals happening in the city. Thanks to the ongoing commitment of Cornerhouse, Institute Cervantes and other partners, this celebration of Spanish and Latin American cinema has gone from strength to strength.
Date March 2016 (TBC)

Greater Manchester Run

Europe's biggest 10k running event has so far seen quarter of a million people take to the streets of manchester to raise money for charity. Like so many good things in the city, the run is a legacy of the Commonwealth Games in 2002, the first run happening the following year and, since then, over £22 million has been raised. In fact it's now so popular that it's almost a race in itself to try to get a place.
Date May 2016 (tbc)
Through the streets of Manchester

Great British Bear Bash

It's amazing how big the bear scene has become. For those who are unaware, there's a whole load of gay men out there who prefer a belly and a beard over toned and hairless types. They are far more likely to swoon over Seth Rogan or Paul Hollywood than anyone from a boy band. You get the idea. There are two GBBB events annually but it's the May Bank Holiday one which pulls them in, although November's 'Pre­Hibearnation' is also popular. So stop shaving, eat a few pies and start practicing your Grrrrs...
Date May Bank Holiday
Various venues in the Gay Village

Manchester Day

Manchester Day was created in 2010 as a way of celebrating the great things about the city, particularly its creativity and diversity. It brings together artists, the public and local businesses in a day long event designed to make you feel proud. And so it does! It's produced by Salford based company Walk the Plank, well­known and well­loved local creators of the first ever theatre ship and originators of astonishingly crafted events for decades. The centrepiece of the event is a huge, mile­long parade through the city which creates such a lovely carnival atmosphere with its huge puppets and colourful costumes.
Date June (TBC)
The city centre

The Parklife Weekender

The Parklife Weekender used to be at Platt Fields Park but now attracts over 70,000 people a day, so it had to find a new home in larger Heaton Park. Organised in association with the Warehouse Project, Parklife has ambitions to celebrate more than just music, so theatre events and other art forms raise it above some of its rivals. There's no camping, but there's no need, Heaton Park being on the tram route. 
Date June (TBC)
Heaton Park

Summer events 2016

Manchester Jazz Festival

As well as championing the regions best jazz musicians, the Manchester Jazz Festival welcomes people from all over the world, its reputation now international. Most of the music is original too, which means that there's literally something new to see at every visit.
Date July (TBC)
Various Manchester venues

Tatton RHS Flower Show

Not only is Tatton Park one of the must see attractions in the Manchester area, about a thirty minute drive from the city centre near Knutsford, it plays host each year to the RHS Flower Show, giving you no excuse but to visit this wonderful house and gardens. Each July, this celebration of the very best in gardens occupies a huge amount of the Tatton parkland, where designers, landscape architects, gardeners and people who love plants and flowers come together to rejoice in all things horticultural.
Date July (TBC)
Tatton Park

24:7 Theatre Festival

Inspired by the excitement and new talent on display at the Edinburgh Fringe, the originator of the 24:7 Theatre Festival, David Slack, has spent over a decade getting this innovative event to the healthy state it's in today. A fantastic nurturing ground for fresh talent, 24:7 offers new writers, directors and actors some amazing opportunities whilst keeping a tight grip on quality to ensure that this is a great experience for the public too. 
Date July (TBC)
New Century House, Corporation Street


It's a decade or so since Sparkle took its first stilettoed foot into the world and in that time it has become one of the largest celebrations of and for transgender people in the world. This is thanks in part to the warm openness of the event, welcoming not only anyone who considers themselves transgender in any way, including those who simply like to dress up of a weekend, but also to their families, friends and colleagues. 
Date July (TBC)
The Gay Village and surrounding areas

Dig The City

The city centre's urban garden festival may not be very old but it has taken root firmly in the annual events calendar, attracting large numbers of visitors to its gardens, events and presentations. Events have included kids classes in making mud pies, advice on getting a bee hive started as well as info on urban allotments. 
Date August (TBC)
Manchester's shopping district


What started off as a few tombola stalls down Canal Street many years ago has become one of the biggest and most beloved celebrations of LGBT life in Europe. It's a major tourism event for the city too, attracting hundreds of thousands of people each August bank holiday.
Date Fri 29 Aug - Mon 31 Aug
The Gay Village and nearby areas

Manchester Picnic

Now over five years old, the Manchester Picnic welcomes over 25,000 visitors to Piccadilly Gardens over three days, where a veritable smörgåsbord of delights greets you with exotic flavours and entrancing aromas. Gourmet street traders serve the tasty treats whilst entertainment for all the family is laid on in the form of live music, fun games, storytelling and a teddy bears picnic for the tots. The range of food on offer is fabulous. Mexican, barbecues, fish and chips, sushi and the quite wonderful Ginger's Comfort Emporium for ice creams with a difference. 
Date August (TBC)
Piccadilly Gardens