The last couple of years have been rough for the theatre and live music industries, but there are some massive shows to look forward to in Manchester this year.
Our city’s cultural scene continues to push forwards with huge festivals, world-renowned theatre and some of the planet’s biggest musicians paying visits in 2022.
Parklife will be back, as will open-air gig series Sounds of the City, and the AO Arena has a packed programme of concerts ahead.
Our theatres will also welcome global musical talent, including the UK premiere of a stage version of one of the most-loved films of all time.
Here are some key dates for your diaries.
Parklife, Heaton Park
Parklife is easily one of the biggest dates in Manchester’s music calendar, attracting 80,000 music-lovers to Heaton Park every day.
The line-up for its 2022 edition hasn’t been announced yet, but still 42,000 eager people have already bought tickets.
Registration is open now for this year’s festival between June 11 and 12.
Sounds of the City, Castlefield Bowl
There was a tonne of disruption for Sounds of the City in the last couple of years, but the popular open-air gig series is back with a bang in 2022.
This summer’s line up at Castlefield Bowl will be made up of performances from Lewis Capaldi (June 28), Foals (June 29), Crowded House (June 30), James (July 2), Pixies (July 5) and Sam Fender (July 6).
The whole thing will wrap up with the always sold-out gig with Hacienda Classical on July 8.
Disney will be hogging the stage at the Palace Theatre in 2022, in news that will delight thousands, with both huge runs of both The Lion King (October 27 to December 24) and Beauty and the Beast (March 31 to June 4).
School of Rock will keep playing at the Palace until January 15, before making way for a huge bill of musical biopics including 9 to 5 The Musical, and We Will Rock You.
The fun will continue with shows like Sister Act, Dreamgirls and Blood Brothers.
Strap in – it’s a BIG year at the AO Arena this year.
Manchester’s biggest indoor gig venue will host the likes of Billie Eilish (June 7 and 8), Little Mix (May 6 and 7), and Stormzy (March 19) in the coming year.
Some of the biggest names on the planet will grace the stage here in 2022 – we’re talking Celine Dion (June 5 and 6), Queen and Adam Lambert (May 30 and 31), and Bryan Adams (May 17).
It’s not just music either – Cirque du Soleil will return with Corteo, the Strictly Come Dancing Live tour will dance into town, and Alan Partridge Live will take over for two nights.
Strictly Come Dancing the Live Tour 2023 at Manchester AO Arena – tickets, celebrity dancers, stage times and more
The glitz and glamour of the Strictly Come Dancing will come shimmying into Manchester this weekend when the hit show’s live tour returns to the AO Arena.
With four shows lined up at the venue over the course of the next two days, it’s one of the biggest events in this year’s cultural calendar.
The massive Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour 2023 spans 32 shows across the UK, with recent celebrity contestants paired up with the BBC show’s professional dancers.
The Strictly judges, Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas, and Anton Du Beke, will be on hand with their pantomime villain-esque take on the performances.
Speaking about the upcoming tour, Fleur East said: “As a huge Strictly fan, being part of the TV competition has been an unbelievable experience and I’m absolutely over the moon to have the chance to get back into those fabulous sequinned outfits for the live tour!”
Helen Skelton said: “Strictly has been the adventure of a lifetime and I’m so happy that it will continue on the live tour. I’m really looking forward to seeing the fans across the country and performing my favourite dances from the series. I can’t wait!”
When is Strictly Come Dancing Live at the AO Arena?
There are four Strictly shows lined up in Manchester at the AO Arena, making it one of the biggest stops on the tour.
Strictly Come Dancing the Live Tour will be on both Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January 2023.
The shows will take place at 1pm and 6pm on Saturday, and 12pm and 5pm on Sunday.
What’s the show’s format?
Directed again by Craig Revel Horwood, the Strictly Live Tour showcases all the choreography, live music and sparkle of the much-loved TV series.
Seven celebrity contestants and their professional dance partners will twirl and shimmy their way across the AO Arena ballroom floor, ready for the tour judges to provide their wisdom and scores.
But it’s the audience who ultimately call the shots, voting for their favourites via text from within the arena, with a champion crowned at the end of every show.
Which celebrities are taking part?
This year’s Strictly champions Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystal are on the line-up, along with runners-up Helen Skelton and Kai Widdrington, Fleur East and Vito Coppola, and Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu.
Also hoping to lift the Strictly Live Tour glitterball trophy are Will Mellor and Nancy Xu, Ellie Simmonds and Nikita Kuzmin, and Tyler West and Dianne Buswell.
Ready for the huge professional numbers there’ll be six more professional dancers heading out on tour – Amy Dowden, Neil Jones, Robbie Kmetoni, Jake Leigh, Luba Mushtuk and Michelle Tsiakkas.
Can I still buy tickets?
You can, actually! There’s limited availability for the afternoon performances but still a fair few tickets for the evening shows.
Those remaining tickets are priced between £42.50 to £64.95.
A Valentine’s Day event where you can sculpt clay penises and vaginas is coming to Manchester
Manc lovebirds will be able to get crafty together for Valentine’s Day this year – but in a very sexy way.
A new workshop will take over Ducie Street Warehouse, with couples invited to come along and create clay sculptures of each other.
But rather than crafting a ceramic likeness of each other’s faces, the Sexy Sculpt’n workshop will take things below the belt.
Ticket-holders will be tasked with building each other’s private parts – yep, we mean penises and vaginas – out of clay.
The event comes from Cork & Clay and promises to be a body-positive, ‘unforgettable ceramic experience’.
The ticket price (£25 for early bird or £30 for general admission) includes all the materials you need – air dry clay, rolling pins, tools, aprons and clay slips – as well a box to carry home your sexy piece of clay.
Set to take place on both the 14 February and the 15 February, it’s part of Ducie Street Warehouses’s special Valentine’s Day event programming.