An all-encompassing list of Manchester's coolest cultural things to do in 2022
Manchester is constantly buzzing with a whole load of cultural things to do and see with everything from drag acts to daily craft workshops, but trawling through the masses of Facebook events, city-centre billboards, and gallery newsletters can be an absolute ball-ache.
To make your oh-so-cultured lifestyle that little bit easier, we've created a cultural calendar for 2022 that's packed with shows, exhibitions and the odd alternative-pop gig.
This page will be continuously updated as new events are released throughout the year, so add it to your bookmarks and pencil in some time with the arts.
Here's your month by month list of what's on in the world of cultural events in 2022:
The Tragedy of Macbeth| HOME | daily showings
Think Shakespeare, but with Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, and a lot of black and white close-ups.
Van Gogh Alive | MediaCity | 22 October 2021 – 27 February
Back for another whole month of immersion and giant sunflowers, Van Gogh alive is still at MediaCity 'til the end of Feb.
Derek Jarman Protest! | Manchester Art Gallery | 2 December 2021–10 April 2022
A retrospective culmination of one of Britain's most influential painters, filmmakers, writers and political activists. Free online booking is essential.
Out of the Crate | Manchester Art Gallery | 7 November 2019 - 11 December 2022
A behind-the-scenes look at Manchester's publicly owned sculpture collection that delves into the history and origins of the collection and its highlights.
School of Rock| Palace Theatre | 4 January – 15 January
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rockin’ adaptation of the iconic 2003 musical film starring Jack Black. Black does not appear in the theatre version. Tickets from £13.00
SIX | The Quays Theatre | 5 January – 9 January
A modern musical tale of Henry VIII’s six wives and their journey from heartbreak to 21st century girl power.
The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart | Royal Exchange Theatre | 4 December – 15 January
A December folktale fave that’s running right up until the middle of the month.
Avatar | O2 Ritz | 9 January
Swedish heavy metal band Avatar grace the Ritz with their latest releases and previous top hits. Standing tickets are £25.45 and doors open at 7pm.
Nigel Kneale: Into the Unknown | HOME |9 January
Two-hour event with actor, writer, and stand-up comedian Toby Hadoke in conversation with screenwriter Nigel Kneale’s biographer Andy Murray. Tickets £4 full price / £3 concessions.
Chat Back | Oldham Coliseum | 13 January - 14 January
An original from the Oldham Coliseum performing arts department that captures "a coming of age, of sorts, for the characters, their foes and friends"
Young Love| Oldham Coliseum | 13 January - 14 January
Each of the teenage characters questions "what is love?" as they explore their ideas of love in the modern age.
Haiku Salut: BFI Archive Short Films Live Score | HOME | 16 January
Instrumental artists Haiku Salut present the international premiere of two live scores to accompany a couple of silent short films from the BFI Archives.
The Rocky Horror Show | Palace Theatre | 17 January – 22 January
Get ready to do the time warp again at the Palace Theatre this January.
Moscow City Ballet presents Swan Lake | Manchester Opera House | 20 January – 21 January
An epic feat of dance, choreography, and artistry from the esteemed Moscow City Ballet.
Moscow City Ballet presents The Nutcracker | Manchester Opera House | 22 January
Moscow City Ballet are back for a second dose of first-class entertainment and ballet magic.
A Knight to Remember | Oldham Coliseum | 22 January
A celebration of the Manchester legend Glenn Knight who served as a sound technician for many amateur dramatics societies in the Greater Manchester area. Includes the best songs from shows such as Mamma Mia, Legally Blonde and Les Midersables.
Turn on fest: launch night and Dungeness from hope mill youth | Hope Mill Theatre| 22 January
Hope Mill Theatre's launch of Turn on Fest 2022 featuring a showing of Dungeness, a play originally commissioned for the National Theatre Connection Festival in 2018. Written by Chris Thompson and described as a "funny, moving, honest story about love, protest, and commemoration".
Keep the Change with live Q&A | HOME | 23 January
As part of HOME’s Autism and Cinema event: an exploration of neurodiversity programme, a screening of Keep the Change, a realist film in which people with autism play characters with autism, will be followed by a live Q&A with Sam Ahern, artist and member of the Neurocultures Collective.
Saturday Night Fever | Manchester Opera House | 25 January – 29 January
Bee Gees, flares, and a whole load of dance breaks – what’s not to love?
Turn on Fest: Jarman | Hope Mill Theatre | 25 January
An exciting new solo play written and performed by Mark Farrelly about the iconic activist, writer, filmmaker, gardener and painter Derek Jarman. Directed by Sarah-Louise Young.
The Door Opened - 1980s China | Manchester Central Library | 26 January
An intimate look at photographer Adrian Bradshaw as he shares his memories of capturing everyday life in 1980s China.
‘Free fall’ poetry for wellbeing |HOME| 28 January
A workshop focusing on self-expression and the use of poetry as a means to focus on wellbeing and self-care. Facilitated by Nasima Begum, a performance poet who uses her art for activism and the exploration of loss and femininity.
Art Battle Manchester | Escape to Freight Island | 28 January
Manchester's craziest live art event sees 10 talented artists battle it out in a live paint off where the audience decides the winner.
The greatest hits of Motown: how sweet it is | Oldham Coliseum | 28 January - 29 January
Always a sell-out for the Coliseum, this show combines all of the Motown classics with slick choreography and first-class voices. Well worth booking in advance to avoid disappointment.
Turn on fest: The Regulars and trans social club| Hope Mill Theatre | 29 January
A captivating original story about identity and self-love that reminds us that "despite our differences, we are all deserving of acceptance for who we are". Run in collaboration with Trans Creative and the Trans Social Club.
FIRED - 3D DESIGN EXHIBITION | SALE WATERSIDE | 29 January - 30 April
A group exhibition from three up and coming contemporary design artists curated by glass artist Michelle Keeling for the Waterside's Lauriston Gallery.
Creative Sparks Mixer | HOME | 30 January
Bringing together Northern theatre-makers of every discipline to create a discussion space for creative conversations and collaborations.
Turn on fest: scratch night in partnership with Hive North | Hope Mill Theatre | 30 January
Hope Mill Theatre collabs with Hive North to give voice to Manchester's hottest LGBTQIA+ talent with a packed evening dedicated to developing ideas, sharing creative thoughts, and getting audience feedback.
Season launch for Spring/Summer 2022 | Oldham Coliseum | 31 January
A chance to grab tickets for the exciting upcoming Spring/Summer 2022 programme at Oldham Coliseum, hosted by artistic director Chris Lawson with a series of special guests.
That Play What I Wrote | Lyric Theatre |31 January – 5 February
A sell-out West End hit that makes “audiences weep with laughter”. Written by Hamish McColl, Sean Foley, and Eddie Braben.
Papatango audio plays| Oldham Coliseum | 1 February - 4 February
Three brand new audio plays, all of which have been awarded the Papatango New Writing Prize. Listing includes plays Some of us Exist in the Future, Ghost Stories from an Old Country and The Silence and the Noise.
An Adventure | The Octagon | 4 February - 26 February
A show that follows the journey of a husband and wife duo spanning seven decades and three continents. Explores the political tensions in 1950s Kenya and life as a first-generation immigrant in 1960s Britain.
Notflix: the improvised musical | Oldham Coliseum | 5 February
A show completely inspired by audience suggestions with an all-female cast. Creating movies and re-inventing your favourite films with "100% more singing, 99% more women and live music".
Craft Social: Book Binding | Salford Museum and Art Gallery | 9 February
Learn how to make your own sketchbooks, diaries, or re-bind an old classic with this crafty class on bookbinding at Salford Museum and Art Gallery.
Pinocchio | Oldham Coliseum | 10 February
A magical re-telling of the puppet who came to life comes to Oldham for one night only with live ballet dancers, music and theatrical wonders.
The Official RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Series Two Tour | Manchester Opera House | 12 February
An evening full of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent from all your favourite season 2 drag icons.
Doing Shakespeare| Sale Waterside | 15 February
Six actors performing six different Shakespeare plays to create a mash-up like no other. Guaranteed to have you "rolling in the aisles and the Bard turning in his grave".
Blood Brothers | Palace Theatre | 15 February – 26 February
Christened the “standing ovation musical”, this emotional tale of twins separated at birth needs to be added to your things to-do list ASAP.
The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much| Sale Waterside | 17 February
A funny and inventive show that's "Chaplin meets Hitchcock meets Spaghetti Western" in a fast-paced whodunnit set in 1950's New York.
Jonathan Van Ness - Imaginary Living Room Olympian | Manchester Opera House | 20 February
Emmy-nominated TV personality and Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness is on tour with a show full of gymnastics, tales of life as “a nonbinary bitch”, and a whole load of laughs.
You Choose| Sale Waterside | 20 February
Based on the unique picture book by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt, this is a show where YOU CHOOSE what happens through a series of games and challenges with different characters, costumes and locations every time.
Fatal Attraction | Manchester Opera House | 22 February – 26 February
On-stage adaptation of the movie thriller classic starring Corrie’s Kym Marsh.
Dave | AO Arena | 24 February
Part of rapper Dave’s UK arena tour following the 2021 release of his second album We’re All Alone In This Together.
Discovery Showcase | Oldham Coliseum | 25 February
Four script-in-hand performances of original plays by newly discovered female writers of South Asian descent. Written and developed as part of the DISCOVERY programme with Kali Theatre.
Footloose | Manchester Opera House | 28 February – 5 March
Hot off the West-End stage, Footloose is heading up North with stars Jake Quickenden and Darren Day taking the lead in this cult dance classic.
9 to 5 the Musical | Palace Theatre | 1 March – 5 March
Tumble outta bed and stumble to the Palace to see the likes of Claire Sweeney and revel in a score written by the queen of country herself (that’s Dolly Parton, btw).
My Favourite Place in the Whole Wide World| Hope Mill Theatre | 1 March - 6 March
A brand-new play by Ian Townsend that details the journey of two people in search of love and purpose in a world of confusion and loss - "an engaging and heartfelt play about growing up".
Nora: A Doll’s House | Royal Exchange Theatre | 4 March – 2 April
Set across three pivotal decades, three remarkable women starkly portray female married life. Described as “a battle cry, a roar, a ripple of hope”.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Manchester Opera House | 8 March – 12 March
Winner of both an Olivier Award and a Tony, this “beautiful and dazzlingly inventive show about the wonders of life” is running throughout the second week of March.
Saving Britney | Hope Mill Theatre | 8 March - 10 March
A "hilarious and heartbreaking look at celebrity obsession, sex and growing up in the early noughties" inspired by the #FreeBritney movement.
Rigoletto | The Lowry | 9 March
Leading UK theatre artist, Femi Elufowoju Jr. directs a new production of the classic opera that maps identity and inequality onto a contemporary canvas. A great watch for opera lovers or first-timers.
Carmen |The Lowry | 10 March
A remake of the classic 150-year-old opera with themes of femininity, desire, violence and toxic masculinity that "resonate now more than ever".
KES | The Octagon | 10 March - 2 April
A powerful on-stage retelling of the classic novel by Barry Hines that captures the delicate tensions of youth and adolescence in 1960s working-class Yorkshire.
The Shadow | Oldham Coliseum | 10 March
Six central characters and their "shadow counterparts" are whisked away into different stories and places to reveal their hidden personalities, desires and motivations. Choreographed by Beauty and the Beast's Anthony Missen.
The Glee Club | Oldham Coliseum | 15 March - 19 March
A glee club consisting of "five hard-working, hard-drinking miners and a church organist" is preparing for the local gala. A show that is guaranteed to make you giggle.
The Dan Daw Show | HOME | 17 March – 19 March
“A peep into the shiny and sweaty push-pull of living with shame while bursting with pride” from Dan Daw and Christopher Owen.
Stereophonics | AO Arena | 18 March
Back with a new album and a massive Manchester tour date.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat | Manchester Opera House | 21 March – 2 April
A star-studded version of this Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber classic starring Alexandra Burke, Jason Donovan and Jac Yarrow is en route to the Opera House in all of its glorious technicolour.
The Ballad of Maria Marten| Oldham Coliseum | 22 March - 26 March
"A thrilling retelling of a real-life murder mystery" set in 1827. Described as a "vital, layered and empowered" piece of theatre and one for the diary.
Hans Zimmer Live | AO Arena | 24 March
A compilation of the award-winning film composer’s best-loved scores and soundtracks.
Planet Earth II – Live in Concert | AO Arena | 25 March
BBC Studios and FKP Scorpio UK bring David Attenborough’s much-loved documentary to life with a live orchestra.
Vagina Cake | Hope Mill Theatre | 29 March - 2 April
A coming of age comedy-drama focusing on five friends "who just can't give each other up".
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast | Palace Theatre | 31 March – 4 June
A beloved tale as old as time brought to life on stage by members of the original creative team, what a beauty.
Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds | AO Arena | 1 April
A musical re-telling of the classic H.G Wells science-fiction novel.
Royal Blood | AO Arena | 2 April
English rock duo Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher return to Manchester on their 2022 UK tour.
Johannes Radebe – Freedom | Manchester Opera House | 6 April
This Strictly star and international dance champion is celebrating dance in all its forms at the Opera House this April.
The Jungle Book | Oldham Coliseum | 7 April - 24 April
If you're looking for this cultural calendar's Bare Necessities, then a trip to the Coliseum to see Mowgli and his jungle pals should definitely be on your agenda.
The Official RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Series Two Tour | Manchester Opera House | 17 April
An evening full of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent from all your favourite season 2 drag icons.
The Addams Family | Manchester Opera House | 19 April – 23 April
Join your favourite kooky fam for “a heart-warming story of love, family and friendship…with a twist”.
National Theatre Live: Henry V | HOME | 21 April
Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington plays the titular role in this classic Shakespeare tale of nationalism and war captured from the Donmar Warehouse in London.
Habibti Driver | The Octagon | 21 April - 7 May
Enjoy this hilarious tale of family dynamics and religious traditions based on co-writer Shamia Chalabi's real-life experiences. A heartwarming play that "will make you laugh and cry" as it explores the clashes and compromises that come with living in a modern mixed-race British family.
Electric Rosary | Royal Exchange Theatre | 23 April – 14 May
A “sharp, timely and gloriously funny” new play that brings nuns and robots together like never before.
Blondie – Against The Odds’ UK Tour | AO Arena | 1 May
Re-scheduled for 2022 with new support from Johnny Marr.
Trixie Mattel | Manchester Opera House | 4 May
This American all-singing all-dancing drag wonder is in Manchester for one night and one night only.
Passion| Hope Mill Theatre | 5 May - 5 June
Starring Olivier Award winner Ruthie Henshall, this re-imagining of Passion is set in 19th century Italy and sets out to explore "the consequences of intense passion and obsessive adoration".
Singin’ In The Rain | Manchester Opera House | 9 May – 14 May
Sadly there’s no Gene Kelly in sight, but there is a 5 night stint at the Opera House that’ll transport you back to the glamour of roaring 20’s Hollywood.
British Art Show 9| The Whitworth | 13 May - 4 September
The ninth edition of the biggest touring exhibition of contemporary art in the UK. Curated by Irene Aristizabal and Hammad Nasar.
The White Card | HOME | 18 May – 21 May
UK premiere of Claudia Rankine’s first play that questions whether society can progress when whiteness remains invisible. Written during the 2019 Black Lives Matter protests.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World Tour | AO Arena | 19 May
An all-new international tour with all your fave Ru Paul icons, werq it Manchester.
Chicago | Manchester Opera House | 23 May – 28 May
It’s got West End stars, razzle-dazzle, a legendary choreographer, and all that jazz.
One Man, Two Guvnors| The Octagon | 26 May - 25 June
A smash-hit comedy described as "a hilarious mix of slapstick, farce and live music" that is "side-splittingly funny".
Red Velvet | Royal Exchange Theatre | 27 May – 25 June
A powerful play exploring the social and political repercussions of Ira Alridge’s infamous role as Desdemona in the Theatre Royal’s 1833 run of Othello.
Celine Dion Courage World Tour | AO Arena | 5 June – 6 June
One of the world’s biggest divas is in Manchester for two whole nights of riffs and ballads galore.
Billie Eilish | AO Arena |7 June – 8 June
Ahead of the release of her forthcoming album Happier Than Ever, Billie Eilish is bringing her iconic tones to the AO Arena for two nights in June.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters | Manchester Opera House | 11 June
Sing along to brand new album The Boy Named If and a load of other Costello classics.
Alanis Morissette | AO Arena | 25 June
You Oughta Know that Alanis is here for one night only with all of her alternative post-grunge hits and iconic vocals.
Sister Act | Palace Theatre | 27 June – 9 July
A “sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music” featuring an award-winning soundtrack and plenty of nostalgic throwbacks.
Aerosmith: European Tour 2022 | AO Arena | 28 June
You Don’t Want to Miss a Thing from the AO Arena at the end of June.
Vice Versa | HOME | 1 July – 2 July
A one-woman performance-art meets theatre production that explores the journey from being a passive civilian to a totalitarian.
Kings of Leon | AO Arena | 5 July
Everyone's favourite American rock quartet are back with a world tour full of their best bits.
25 Years of Lord Of The Dance | Palace Theatre | 14 July – 17 July
Three whole nights of Michael Flatley’s magic footwork – timeless.
South Pacific | Manchester Opera House | 16 July – 23 July
A highlight of the Opera House’s 2022 schedule is this tale of powerful love and romance in the height of World War II.
The Osmonds – A New Musical | Palace Theatre | 9 August – 13 August
A tale of Donny and his bros directed by Shaun Kerrison and choreographed by Olivier Award winner Bill Deamer.
Mrs Doubtfire | Manchester Opera House | 2 September – 1 October
A massive dose of nostalgic musical comedy that we all need in our lives.
The Glass Menagerie | Royal Exchange Theatre | 2 September – 8 October
A Tennessee Williams classic directed by Atri Banerjee and adapted for the Exchange’s in-the-round theatre. A play that explores “the complex web of love, loyalty and trauma that binds families together”.
We Will Rock You | Palace Theatre | 5 September – 10 September
The smash-hit brainchild of Queen and Ben Elton is back in Manchester for a five day stint at the Palace.
Dreamgirls | Palace Theatre | 13 September – 24 September
And I Am Telling You, these “spine-tingling” vocals are well worth copping a ticket for as sisters Effie, Lorrell and Deena embark on a journey to fame and fortune via some timeless ballads.
Tommy Alexander | The Castle Hotel | 30 September
Alt-Country artist Tommy Alexander brings some sweet sounds to The Castle Hotel on Friday 30 September. General admission £11, doors open at 7:30pm.
The Official RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Series Three Tour | Manchester Opera House | 4 October – 5 October
Sashay away to the Opera House for a whole host of season three queens including Ella Vaday and Kitty Scott-Claus.
Beautiful | Palace Theatre | 11 October – 15 October
An inspiring musical tale of Carole King’s journey to stardom that “sends shivers down the spine”.
Jersey Boys | Manchester Opera House | 18 October – 29 October
The smash-hit musical re-telling of the story behind Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons includes bangers such as Working My Way, Back To You and Oh What A Night.
Let the right one in | Royal Exchange Theatre| 22 October – 19 November
Bringing some extra-spooky vibes for Halloween month, Let The Right One In is an unnerving coming of age tale based on the haunting Swedish novel by Jon Ajvide Lindqvist.
The Lion King | Palace Theatre | 27 October – 24 December
It's back in all of its goosebump-inducing glory with your favourite characters and catchy.
Robin Hood | Oldham Coliseum | 12 November - 7 January
The return of the Oldham Coliseum infamous annual pantomime comes in the form of Robin Hood for 2022. Get ready for some men in tights and pun-filled magic.
What’s Love Got To Do With It – A Tribute to Tina Turner | Manchester Opera House | 14 November
Surely you don’t want to miss out on simply the best Tina Turner tribute show in the UK?
Betty! A Sort of Musical | Royal Exchange Theatre | 3 December – 14 January
Starring icon Maxine Peake this highly-anticipated show is “a heart-warming celebration of the human spirit and the unexpected rewards that can come from thinking outside of the dispatch box”.
The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan | Manchester Opera House | 10 December – 31 December
A swashbuckling tale of the boy who never grew up. Take a trip to Neverland in December 2022.
Play reading club| Hope Mill Theatre | 17 December
Led by Janelle Thompson, this sessions read-through will revolve around The Audition by Don Zolidis as everyone is welcome to join from 11am - 1pm at Hope Mill Theatre. No prior experience needed.
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