From International Women’s Day to virtual reality and more festivals than you can shake a stick at…

DAVID LLOYD CLUBS @ HOME | Online | Various

With a series of restrictions taking its toll on physical and mental health, David Lloyd Clubs is making its app free for the first time ever. App users have access to over 600 classes ranging from yoga and Pilates to HIIT, post-natal workouts and mobility sessions for runners - all delivered by the Clubs expert team - plus events spanning virtual coffee mornings to quizzes, clubs and workshops. For more inspiration on the exercise (and nature) front, check out MCR Active and Nature Greater Manchester


Hungarian-Transylvanian festival Góbéfest - which normally brings thousands of visitors to Albert Square each May - is bringing some of the revelry to our living rooms with its new streamed concert series; featuring a diverse mix of live music from folk, prog rock to opera and classical sounds. And it isn’t the only local festival providing weekly entertainment during lockdown, with others including Glaston-Bury.

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Góbéfest is bringing some of the revelry to our living rooms this spring

MINDSCAPES | Online | From March

This ground-breaking arts project - a collaboration between Manchester and the Netherlands - will explore the impact that our environment has on mental wellbeing, with everything from Metrolink art to poetry and music. Other events fusing art/performance and health this month include the launch of Sex with Cancer, a new series of Sing Yourself to Better Health with buzz Manchester and live art classes with Justin Eagleton. 


Celebrating North West publishing, this new virtual book fest - a collaboration between 22 regional libraries - promises 10 events spanning poetry and fiction workshops to author talks and readings plus a special panel discussion; with publishers including Manchester’s Carcanet and Comma Press, Liverpool’s Dead Ink, Salford’s Saraband and Newton Le Willow’s Knives Forks and Spoons. Talking of books, don’t forget it’s World Book Day on Thursday 4 March…   

REIMAGINE - RESET - RECONNECT | Online | Until 30 June

In the lead-up to its reopening this spring, Manchester Jewish Museum has programmed a season of trailblazing performance treats and sneaky peeks - inspired by stories from its vast and eclectic collection. Proceedings kicked off in November with a rollicking digital drag night with Chanukah Lewinsky; further planned events, both online and in-person, include creative activism and a tour of Manchester’s ‘Jewish Quarter.’  

PETRICHOR | Online | 1-7 March

Set in a parallel universe - featuring two performers, an original soundtrack and projected animation; mixing the language of theatre, gaming, cinema and virtual reality - Petrichor isn’t to be missed. It also marks the launch of Oldham Coliseum’s new spring digital season so be sure to have a gander what else is coming up.

PUSH FESTIVAL | Various | From Friday 5 March

Focusing on film, theatre and visual art from the North West, Push offers an array of miscellaneous goodies. Usually lasting a fortnight, it will be reimagined for 2021 to offer a year-round programme of online and in-person events. Launching the festival is Closed Hands, an experimental and political video game that explores the complex effects of extremism. 


After a successful debut in 2015, MANIFF has grown exponentially ever since. This year the festival is going online; with 130 films taking in narrative features, documentaries, shorts, music videos, experimental and animation. From apocalyptic drama Dead in October to the surreally comic Country of Hotels and plenty more besides, there’s sure to be something for every viewer.  

SPRING FORAGING | Online | Tuesday 16 March

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the wild and wondrous world of foraging, Dave Winnard is your man - as Confidentials’ Kelly Bishop found back in 2019. Organised by Est 1761, which celebrates the Salford stretch of the Bridgewater Canal, this free virtual event will teach you what to look out for and what to avoid.

TURN ON FEST | Online | 17-28 March

Held in collaboration with Superbia (Manchester Pride), Hope Mill’s LGBTQ arts and culture festival returns with a lively digital programme following its successful debut last year. Headlining is screenwriter and producer Russell T Davies (Queer as FolkDoctor WhoYears and YearsIt’s a Sin) in conversation with Julie Hesmondhalgh, while other happenings range from cabaret celebrations to film and Fat Roland.

THE NORTH WILL RISE AGAIN | Online | 27-28 March

Manchester and Liverpool are uniting for this aptly named music fest; conceived in response to the catastrophic damage caused by COVID-19 to the North’s live music scene and eco-system, with all proceeds going towards its recovery. Streaming worldwide, the fundraiser will feature The Charlatans, Lightning Seeds, Red Rum Club, Ist Ist, Zuzu and LIINES; more info here (please note the original date was postponed to March)

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The Charlatans and Lightning Seeds (pictured) headline The North Will Rise Again


Manchester International Festival is supporting artists and collectives from across Greater Manchester to host online events each month (until May 2021) as part of Festival In My House… And Yours; its popular micro-festival series, reimagined for the digital realm. All events will be free and streamed via MIF’s YouTube channel, with upcoming events spanning clowning workshops to a celebration of Black experiences through imagery, poetry and storytelling. While you’re there, check out MIF’s other online content; this month including Dream.

International Women’s Day (IWD)

This year’s IWD (Monday 8 March) sees an array of female-focused events throughout the month in aid of gender equality; see the official website for more info, including what’s on near you. Below we’ve rounded up some of the happenings in Manchester…

Twitter live-stream | Online | Saturday 6 March

Manchester City Council’s Twitter live-stream will showcase some of the recipients of this year’s IWD funding and the online activities they’ve organised to celebrate the role of women in our communities. It will also look back on our rich history and previous IWD celebrations, as well as forward to how we can soon be celebrating together.

An Evening with Martina Evans | Online | Monday 8 March

Part of New Words Festival (above), this event will see Carcanet founder Michael Schmidt in conversation with Martina Evans; whose Now We Can Talk Openly About Men, a sequence of narrative poems in the form of monologues by two women at the time of the Irish War of Independence and the subsequent Irish Civil War, was published by Carcanet in 2018 to critical acclaim.

Beat the Frog | Online | Monday 8 March

Controversially deemed ‘not culturally significant enough’ for government aid, comedy stalwart Frog and Bucket has since raised thousands from fans and National Lottery match funding - now fully equipped with all the necessary tech, it’s live-streaming flagship shows Barrel of Laughs and Beat the Frog; the latter will host an all-female line-up on Monday 8 March in honour of IWD.

First in the Fight | Online | Thursday 11 March

Part of a new series of virtual talks hosted by Edwardian treasure Victoria Baths, this IWD event - hosted by curator and historian Helen Antrobus - will explore the life of long-distance swimmer Sunny Lowry, who started her career training in the Females Pool at the Baths and was the fifth British women ever to swim the Channel. For more fascinating IWD stories, also check out the People’s History Museum; which is hosting everything from a special themed Instagram tour of the galleries to podcasts and children’s activities.

Women in Media Conference | Online | 15-28 March

While not technically an IWD event, this annual media conference is still dedicated to empowering women and all 2021 proceeds go to two charities helping women in Manchester. While student-led, women of many ages and backgrounds who work or want to work in the media will find the programme of value.

Also check out the Royal Exchange's OH WOMAN project, whose audio pieces will be available from Monday 8 March; Music Venue Trust's #WomenToTheFront hashtag, which celebrates some of the music industry's incredible women; and Invisible Cities' new Women of the UK card game.

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International Women’s Day celebrates and campaigns for women worldwide

Lots more entertainment from home

While recreation venues remain closed due to lockdown restrictions, that isn’t stopping many keeping us entertained at home with a diverse variety of online content; from exhibitions to talks, performances and online activities.  

Manchester performance venues, museums and galleries offering digital content include National Football MuseumImperial War Museum NorthElizabeth Gaskell’s HouseScience & Industry MuseumManchester Art GalleryPeople's History MuseumCentre for Chinese Contemporary ArtInternational Anthony Burgess FoundationCastlefield GalleryManchester MuseumThe WhitworthHolden GalleryHOMEThe LowryWaterside, Frog and Bucket and Hope Mill (which is also soon to launch its own theatre school).

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HOME has curated a vibrant events season even in lockdown, including Push Festival

Elsewhere, libraries offering online amusements include The PorticoWorking Class Movement Library and Chetham’s while Manchester City of Literature has literary event inspiration aplenty. Manchester Libraries has loads of resources and some branches remain open for certain services and click-and-collect.  

As for music, Stoller Hall and Matt & Phred’s are amongst the music venues streaming shows online.  

And the above is just Manchester city centre. With many venues across the region hosting their own range of home-based entertainment, check your local council website for performance venues, museums and galleries near you. 

After yet more to do? Why not revisit some of our previous lockdown roundups: from must-read Manchester novels to Manchester-based podcasts and video games