The top 10 annual events in Manchester

The shows, festivals and parades that see visitors coming back to Manchester year after year

No matter when you go to Manchester, there’s always something happening. Get your calendar ready – here are the best yearly events to look forward to.  

Chinese New Year – various locations – January/February
Manchester has one of the largest Chinese communities in the UK, so Chinese New Year is always a big event. From Albert Square to Chinatown, thousands of people line the streets to watch the annual dragon parade, led by a 175-foot dragon and followed by dancers, acrobats and local Mancunians in traditional Chinese dress. The four-day celebration also features a popular Chinese street food market, art installations and red lantern decorations centred around St Ann’s Square, Market Street and Albert Square. 

Wonder Women – various venues – March
Wonder Women is Manchester’s feminist festival of female art, music, film and politics. Inspired by the city that raised Emmeline Pankhurst, Wonder Women celebrates female accomplishments around the world and encourages and supports local women. Over 10 days in March, you can take part in feminist lectures with prominent female figures, meet inspiring activists from minority groups and get together for some much needed girl power.  

The Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run – various venues – May
The Great Manchester Run is a 10km race and a half marathon organised every year in mid-May. It’s one of the most popular mass participation events in the city, with more than 40,000 runners taking part and tens of thousands of supporters turning out to watch. The trail goes right through the city centre and passes by most of the main Manchester attractions including Old Trafford, the Coronation Street set and the Imperial War Museum. Even if you’re not a runner, you can still join in on the fun – there are lots of live music and family-friendly activities to entertain the crowds. 

Manchester Day – city centre – June 
Marking its 8th year in 2018, Manchester Day celebrates the city itself and all things Mancunian! It’s a day full of colourful parades and decorations, traditional bagpipe concerts and hundreds of street food stalls. Proudly showing-off Manchester’s diversity and multicultural community spirit, each year has a different theme, with the next year’s theme announced in winter ahead of the June event. 2017’s theme was Abracadabra! 

Parklife Festival – Heaton Park – June
Parklife is Manchester’s most-loved music festival, held every June come rain, hail or shine. Tickets always sell out quickly as revellers take to the grass in Heaton Park to dance and drink the weekend away. There are several stages, with some of the biggest names in music headlining the main stage, with 2017 welcoming the likes of Frank Ocean, The 1975, Two Door Cinema Club and London Grammar. 

Manchester Pride – Canal Street – August
Manchester Pride is one of the UK’s longest-running LGBT pride festivals, held in the Gay Village every August. The 10-day celebration involves music, arts and cultural events throughout the city, all finishing with a bang at the flagship event called “The Big Weekend” over the August bank holiday. The infamous 72-hour party features an extravagant parade, concerts from big-name musicians and a whole lot of rainbow-tinted love. It finishes with a moving Candlelight Vigil in the Sackville Gardens where thousands gather to remember those who are no longer with us.    

Manchester Food and Drink Festival – Albert Square – September/October
For the last 20 years, Mancunians have been gathering in Albert Square for the annual Manchester Food and Drink Festival. It’s the UK’s largest urban food and drink event where you can sample the best from over 250 restaurants, bars, cafes, pubs and other culinary delights. From the end of September to early October, there are over 100 events taking place around the festival hub at Albert Square – think pop-up restaurants, behind-the-scenes kitchen tours, master classes, live music entertainment and more. Enjoy dinner in an abandoned railway station, learn how to make your own signature cocktails or cook up a feast alongside award-winning chefs. 

Grimmfest – VUE Printworks – October
Are you ready to scream? Grimmfest is Manchester’s one and only horror, cult, extreme fantasy and sci-fi film festival, held at the beginning of October every year. The three-day event promises plenty of premieres of international, European and British films, with actors and directors on hand to introduce their films and answer any questions. You can see screenings of independent genre films, re-watch old classics and meet-and-greet the stars themselves. 

Manchester Zombie Walk – downtown – October
No city does Halloween quite like Manchester! At the end of October, thousands of zombies, ghosts and ghouls take to the streets for an annual ‘scare-walk’, where they stumble, growl and groan their way through the Manchester streets, arms outstretched. It’s free, although you have to come in costume to be able to take part, so make sure you bring your fake blood with you. Halloween is a popular time of year for the whole family with plenty of other events like scary movie screenings, trick or treat trails and other haunted happenings going on around the city.

Manchester Christmas Markets – city centre – November/December
Back in 1999, the Manchester Christmas Markets could barely fill up St Ann’s Square – today, it’s one of the largest in the country. As soon as the cold weather hits, the city turns on its Christmas lights and kicks off its seasonal festivities, with over 300 traders setting up stands across the city centre, selling Yuletide treats such as mulled wine, handmade Christmas decorations and traditional bratwurst. The main market hub is located at Albert Square, although you’ll find good cheer overflowing at 10 other sites including the original at St Ann’s Square, Brazennose Street and King Street. 

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