Film, theatre, vegan, punk…and that’s just for starters

Just before the start of the new year, we began working on our annual 'Essential things to do in Manchester 2019' calendar. We were about a quarter of the way in when our listings editor stood up, climbed on her desk and shouted... 

"BLOODY HELL, there's loads to do in Manchester this year. So much so I think we should condense it down to four months at a time - so that we don't overload our reader's noggins with too many things and dates and times and bits of stuff..."

So we did. Here's January to April...

PUSH FESTIVAL | HOME | 1-26 January 

Focusing on film, theatre and visual art from the North West, PUSH offers a fortnight of miscellaneous goodies - from dark comedies to a Muslim take on The Handmaid’s Tale and ‘dancing away the spiders’. Workshops are another strand, with everything from body image to virtual reality. Other annual HOME staples include ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival and Orbit. 

BEER & CIDER FESTIVAL | Manchester Central | 24-26 January

With most of the action clustered in October - Indy Man Beer Con, Didsbury, Oktoberfest - the Beer & Cider Festival is a unique opportunity to drown your January blues in a pint or few; spanning a whopping 218 breweries plus street food, talks and tastings.

2019 01 07 Manchester Beer Cider Festival James Darcey
Beer & Cider Festival spans 218 breweries James Darcey

INDEPENDENT VENUE WEEK | Northern Quarter | 28 January - 3 February

A seven-day celebration of small music venues around the UK - ‘and a nod to the people that own, run and work in them week in, week out’ - this nationwide initiative celebrates its sixth birthday with another series of live shows; curated by promoters, labels, media, bloggers and tastemakers who have their pulse on the indie music scene. Manchester venues include stalwarts like Gullivers and Soup Kitchen.

QUEER CONTACT FESTIVAL | Citywide | 1-9 February

It may be closed for a major development until later this year, but that won’t stop Contact Theatre’s major LGBT+ festival going ahead with the usual pizzazz, rounding off with the House of Suarez + Contact Vogue Ball. There will be also an opportunity to have your say on the festival’s future direction, as it’s reimagined for 2020.

2018 01 18 Queer Contact
Mother's Ruin, part of Queer Contact Festival Lee Baxter

TED X MANCHESTER | Bridgewater Hall | Sunday 3 February 

Such is the popularity of TED X Manchester, it often sells out weeks in advance (tickets sales start 10 January so get in fast if you want one) but those who’ve missed out on a live ticket can now buy one to Livecast lounge: an additional viewing space with a direct video feed of everything happening onstage in the main auditorium. Speakers include Game of Thrones actor-turned-tech entrepreneur Maisie Williams, Europe’s top female poker player Liz Boeree and many more.

CHINESE NEW YEAR | Citywide | 7-10 February

Manchester celebrates Year of the Pig with four days of food, fortune, fireworks, free activities and a giant piglet in St Ann's Square. Staples include the iconic red lanterns, performances and crafts citywide, a Chinese food market and the exuberant dragon parade finale - while special events for 2019 include Chinternet Ugly, a group exhibition on the ‘messy vitality’ of China’s online realm. 

2018 01 25 Chinese New Year 1
Chinese New Year always draws a big crowd in Manchester
2018 01 07 Year Of The Pig
A giant piglet in St Ann's Square will mark the Year of the Pig

MANCHESTER IRISH FESTIVAL | Citywide | 1-17 March 

Manchester Irish Festival will be upping the craic again this March, as it returns for another jig around venues citywide. Confirmed events include the St Patrick’s Parade, fast approaching its 30th year, and the Irish market. 

MANCHESTER FILM FESTIVAL | Odeon | 2-10 March   

After a successful debut in 2015, MANIFF has grown exponentially ever since and - for the first time ever - will take place over a week; featuring 150 films spanning world premieres to experimental shorts and even VR and music videos. Premiere highlights include Limbo, about a murderer who find himself on trial in hell, and adventure film The Runaways.

2019 01 08 Manchester Irish Festival
Last year's Irish Festival performers included Green Hot Clover, The Scattering and The Joe Keegan Band

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY | Citywide | Friday 8 March

A focal point for women’s rights, IWD is marked worldwide: 2019’s theme is #BalanceforBetter and proceedings kick off in Manchester with the Walk for Women. Also in March, check out Wonder Women - Manchester’s radical feminist fest - and the Women in Media Conference. 

NORTHERN VEGAN FESTIVAL | Manchester Central | Saturday 6 April 

Voted as one of the UK’s top two vegan festivals, Northern Vegan Fest even counts carnivores amongst its regulars such is the variety of its offering: talks, demos, children's activities, yoga, free samples and huge seated cafe area - not to mention world food caterers and over 80 stalls.  

2019 02 04 Vegan
There'll be no piggies at this market


The weekend dedicated to all things chocolate is a well-known, fun-filled family event involving a cocoa-themed street market with artisan chocolatiers and bakers around the beautiful town of Ramsbottom. What's not to like? 

MANCHESTER PUNK FESTIVAL | Citywide | 19-21 April 

‘MPF is what happens when you sit three different promoters in a pub to discuss starting something where the bands we know and love can play to new people who would appreciate them’. Add in the likes of comedy and poetry stage, vegan nosh, punk cinema and pop-up record store = sell-out event. MPF is unleashing over 130 bands across Manchester for 2019…it’s gonna be a loud one. 

2019 01 07 Manchester Punk Festival
MPF is unleashing over 130 bands across Manchester for 2019

WHEN IN MANCHESTER | Northern Quarter | Saturday 20 April

Taking place across NQ stalwarts like Castle Hotel and Gullivers, When in Manchester successfully launched as an all-dayer back in 2015. It may not be on the scale of Sounds from the Other City but the premise is the same: a showcase of exciting new music from up-and-coming talent.