From online festivals to outdoor art trails, lockdown hasn’t scuppered everything

With another national lockdown expected from 5th November to 2nd December, this month’s listings include online or outdoor activities only. During lockdown, all non-essential retail stores and entertainment venues will close - as well as leisure and personal care facilities - while hospitality can only open on a takeaway basis. The closures will be accompanied by new rules on gatherings and the advice to stay at home unless for purposes such as work that cannot be done remotely or exercise. See the full guidelines here.


From Skate Manchester to parkrun and the Salford 10K, this autumn has seen a slew of sporting events called off...and the November lockdown will mean yet more activities cancelled. Fortunately there’s always nature - and the new Nature Greater Manchester website, launched as part of the Green Summit 2020, has lots of fresh inspiration for exploring near you. For more inspiration on exercising both at home and outdoors, see our guide on coping with lockdown 2

GREAT NORTHERNERS | Great Northern Warehouse | Until 9th November

Great Northern Warehouse is expanding its Great Northerners exhibition - launched in 2017 and featuring portraits of iconic Mancunians by illustrator Stanley Chow - to honour and celebrate the city’s black and ethnic minority communities. Someone you want included? Nominations are open until 9th November; the public will then have until 15th November to vote on the shortlist.    

2020 06 17 Marcus Rashford
Potential candidates include Marcus Rashford MBE, footballer and child poverty activist

MANCHESTER VOICES | Online | Until December

Bus or buz? That’s just one of the questions being asked by Manchester Voices. Exploring everything from which sound more friendly to those perceived as posh, it’s the largest research project ever into Greater Manchester accents and is now after residents to submit recordings. 

50 WINDOWS OF CREATIVITY | Citywide | 26th October - 5th December

Live in or near Manchester centre? Outdoor exercise is still encouraged so why not combine a stroll with this new autumn art trail, which has transformed the city into an outdoor gallery with a huge array of spectacular mosaics, installations, fine art, photography, craft, murals and more? Full details here

FIREWORKS FIRE | Online | Thursday 5th November

With the usual community Bonfire Night festivities cancelled due to COVID-19, why not try something different this 5th November? Community station Reform Radio is hosting a night of musical talent from rising local artists, vocalist CEEOW and singer-songwriter Sarah Angel. To tune in, check out Reform’s Mixcloud or Facebook page. 

DIGITAL DIWALI | Online | 5th - 15th November

In lieu of Manchester’s annual festivities, this digital celebration of Diwali promises everything from Indian classical and contemporary music and dance to storytelling, spectacle and interactive workshops with legendary arts producer Walk the Plank. 

2020 11 03 Indian Dance
Digital Diwali features Indian classical and contemporary music and dance

MANCHESTER SLEEPOUT | Home | Friday 6th November

With its annual Sleepout at Manchester Cathedral cancelled, the Booth Centre is improvising this year in a bid to fight homelessness - asking participants to forsake their beds for a ‘night out’ on the sofa, floor or somewhere else safe. One challenge not enough? Other fundraisers this autumn include CEO Sleepout on 30th November (also from home this year) and  Shelter’s The Big Walk on 10th December. 

LOUDER THAN WORDS FESTIVAL | Online | 6th - 8th November

‘The only festival that interrogates that enduring love affair between music and the written word,’ LTW grows louder each year. Dave Ball, Liz Kershaw and Bob Geldof are amongst the personalities for 2020’s online affair: expect lively interviews, panels and some nifty discounts on books.

REMEMBRANCE | Online | Sunday 8th & Wednesday 11th November

Needless to say, the usual commemorations across Manchester are cancelled this year - but that doesn’t mean you can’t honour the occasion at home. From streamed services to theatrical broadcasts and radio debates, see our roundup here

2017 11 09 Remembrance Sunday
Remembrance commemorations look a little different this year

INDEPENDENT SALFORD BEER FESTIVAL | Online | 12th - 14th November

Described as ‘a small independent beer festival, relaxed, inclusive and friendly, bringing fabulous modern beer to Salford,’ SBF is usually held in Hemsley House in October. This year’s slightly postponed shindig ambitiously sees the fest go digital, with all profits going to charity as usual. We’d say that’s worth raising a pint or few. 

DESIGN MANCHESTER | Online | 12th - 16th November

Established in 2013 with the support of MMU’s School of Art, this non-for-profit design festival is one of the biggest celebrations of Manchester’s creative talent. This year’s online episode ‘is going global while staying local’ via five commissions connecting the worlds of design, fashion, sustainability, activism and play.

2020 10 30 Design Manchester
DM20 spans virtual exhibitions to expert sessions and much more besides

BEING HUMAN | Online | 12th - 22nd November

The UK’s national festival of the humanities, Being Human explores everything from science-fiction futures to immersive explorations. The festival also sees the launch of Begin the World Over Again, a new range of podcasts from Working Class Movement Library and Walk the Plank.

MANCHESTER ANIMATION FESTIVAL | Online | 15th - 30th November

Now the UK’s biggest celebration of the animated art form, MAF offers a wealth of talks and short film screenings from across the globe. Spanning stop motion to illustration, CGI and even hand-painted, the visual spectacle has something for all; not to mention guest panels and a sneak peek into some of the UK’s leading animation studios. This year it’s online.

Film fanatic? Also check out Amplify, which sees four of the UK’s largest film fests combine for an online spectacular (6th - 22nd November).

THE FUTURE IS OURS | Online | 16th - 26th November

An online programme of art, performance, literature, music, and activism by young people in Greater Manchester - exploring their views and visions for the future - this festival is the culmination of several projects by 42nd Street and The Horsfall which saw young people produce art and collaborate with Manchester creatives. New pieces will be showcased daily.

IT’S TIME | Online | 17th - 18th November

Manchester actor Cel Spellman co-hosts this digital festival of climate action, which unites over 100 global contributors including activists, artists, academics, brands and celebrities. Opened by HRH Price of Wales, the programme spans live debates and video premieres to art exhibits, live performances and more. It's not the only fest to explore the topic this month; 16th November sees Climate Crisis Film Festival return for its second edition. 

NINETEEN WAYS OF LOOKING | Online | 17th - 27th November

Responding to the prejudice shown towards those from East/South East Asian diaspora during the pandemic, this online opera - created entirely on camera phone - is a constellation of music, image, dance and spoken word. Offering 19 perspectives, it will be streamed on Instagram.

2020 11 02 Nineteen Ways Of Looking Jasmin Kent Rodgman
Jasmin Kent Rodgman


With many artisan makers adversely affected by COVID-19, here is a chance to show them some support - and bag some beautiful one-off items while you’re at it. Whether you’re after Christmas prezzies or treating yourself, GNCCF’s 150+ exhibitors should have plenty to suit.

REIMAGINE - RESET - RECONNECT | Online | 26th November - 1st April 2021

In the lead-up to its reopening next spring, Manchester Jewish Museum has programmed a season of trailblazing performance treats and sneaky peeks - inspired by stories from its vast and eclectic collection. Events (online in November but also in-person thereafter) kick off with a rollicking digital drag night with Chanukah Lewinsky.

2020 11 04 Chanukah Lewinsky Photo By Antonia Sadler
Chanukah Lewinsky, host of queer Jewish cabaret Homos and Houmous, will be hosting a quiz night Antonia Sadler


Theatres may be closed during lockdown but that’s not stopped some of Manchester’s favourite venues bringing top-class entertainment direct to our homes. All theatre performances at HOME will be live streamed in November while Hope Mill’s sell-out show Rent is available to watch onlineThe Lowry is co-presenting Unfamiliar at Home's virtual tour and Waterside has launched Diverge; a virtual hub spanning immersive VR to children's story time and the Northern Lights Writers’ Conference. Meanwhile, not theatre per se but still theatrical, the Crystal Maze’s new virtual game promises all the Dome drama at home.    

Main image: David Oates

Read more: 50 Windows of Creativity - full details revealed for new Manchester art trail