One of the best times to be in the North West of the UK is when music festivals are taking place. Some are huge spectacles that run over a weekend or even last weeks, like the Parklife Festival and Manchester Jazz Festival. Other festivals may be a little less known but are just as awesome and sometimes more important.
Manchester has a rich musical history reflected by its diverse cultures, and while some festivals are not technically music festivals they represent Manchester music perfectly. Events like the Manchester Thai Festival, Salaam Festival, Oktoberfest, and the Doki Doki Manchester Japanese Festival are just a few examples.
When it comes to past and present festivals, Manchester really shows the world how it's done. But hauling your luggage to and from a festival is the last thing you want to be doing. Storing your luggage at a convenient luggage locker will make your festival experience in Manchester a lot better.
So make your way to the fun! From the Manchester Jazz Festival to Northwest Calling, many genres are represented in the music scene of this intriguing UK city. Keep an eye out for your favorite solo artist or group and be a part of musical history!
The best music festivals in Manchester in 2022
Live music events happen throughout the year in Manchester, but the best music festivals in Manchester happen during the summer. Whether it is a small or large venue event, there are certain festivals you don't want to miss.
Manchester Jazz Festival
Jazz and more jazz is what you can expect at this year's Manchester Jazz Festival. Take part in ten full days packed with performances throughout the city starting on the 20th of May and running until the 29th. Venues like Matt & Phreds, the Yard, and the main room at Band on the Wall will host both paid and free concerts.
This terrific UK festival holds many events including fun children's activities on the weekends with interactive shows and outdoor performances. International and local artists like Lara Jones, Intergalactic Brasstronauts, Jasmine Myra, Dirty Freud, Nubya Garcia, and Mulatu Astakte will take to the stage. If you have a talent, now is the right time to show off, as there will also be open skills nights.
Manchester Guitar Festival
The Manchester Guitar Festival is a celebration of guitar music in all its forms. It doesn't matter if you like classical, electric, acoustic, or even ukulele, you are going to find something to enjoy. Three days in May, 20th - 22nd, will be packed with all sorts of events, concerts, informative talks, workshops, and pop-up shows. Some of the shows do require tickets, however, the majority are free concerts but do require booking.
Sean Shibe, Gwenifer Raymond, Boo Hewerdine, The Northern Chamber Orchestra with Craig Ogden, and Daniel Martinez Flamenco are just a few of the artists that will be performing. Along with all the music and fun events, you will be able to enjoy some great food and drink from local businesses. If you are a young aspiring guitarist or a seasoned pro, bring your guitar and join in on the celebration of UK music and more.
Some people say the best dance music came from the 90s and 00s, and if you are one of those people you are going to love the Flashback Festival in Manchester. The first time festival will happen on May the 21st at Platts Field Park and it will last from 12 pm to 11 pm. Expect Retro House, Trance, Classic club hits, and even Groovin' Garage music from a stellar line of artists.
The headliners Example and Tinchy Stryder will be kicking out their all of their hits. Great 90s and 00s throwback artists include 2Unlimited, Tulisa, Ultrabeat, and Love Inc. And for the Garage fans, Artful Dodger, Sweet Female Attitude, DJ Luck & MC Neat, and others, will take you back to the greatest dance music era.
What better way to kick off the summer than the Neighbourhood Weekend Festival, happening on May 28th and 29th at Victoria Park in Warrington, near Manchester. Three stages will be pumping with live music as well as local food and drink concessions. You can get tickets for one or two days. There is also the choice of VIP tickets which gets you exclusive food, bars, and all important posh toilets.
The festival will be featuring such great acts as Manic Street Preachers, Example, The Bootleg Beatles, Kasabian, and back for the first time since 2018, Courteeners. The fantastic open air festival not only showcases established performers but great up-and-coming acts like The Rills and Foxglove. Don't be late as the gates are open from noon until 11:30 pm on both days.
The Irlam Live Festival is a great mix of genres of music divided into something special each day of the event. This year it falls on the Queen's Jubilee celebration, running from Thursday, June 2nd to Sunday, June 5th. The first two days will be all tribute bands Real Magic Queen, Revival Abba, Take Off That, Ultimate Stone Roses, Bob Marley Experience, and more.
Saturday, the main stage will host Manchester Ska Foundation, N-Trance, Brutus Gold's Love Train, and headlined 80s sensation Banarama. On Sunday, it's The Feeling, Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud, and Doctor & the Medics turn on the mainstage. The Roots stage will be featuring some of the best unsigned acts around Manchester.
Aside from the music, the festival will feature some cool and fun events and activities for the whole family, great food stalls and other vendors. Tickets are available for one or multiple days with a VIP option for those that want to splurge.
The all-day punk festival has been delayed for a couple years but is now finally ready to make its return on June 11th at the 02 Ritz Manchester. A full day of mosh pits and head banging music that will make Mozart turnover in his grave. Because of the delays (4 of them) previously purchased tickets are still being honored, but the line ups may have changed.
Bands that will appear include Dirt Box Disco, Gimp First, The Outcasts, Subhumans, Steve Ignorant, and more. The headliner will be Ruts DC, one of the most successful punk bands in the UK, performing at The Crack.
On June 11th and 12th the largest metropolitan music festival in the UK returns to Heaton Park in Manchester. This year the annual event has outdone itself by signing one of the biggest names in the industry, and a festival exclusive, 50 Cent. Other big names include Megan Thee Stalion, Tyler the Creator, and Lewis Capaldi.
The seven other stages will be featuring techno, hip-hop, and other genres throughout the weekend. The Valley stage will see icon Bicep headline with their highly-touted live show. Chase and Status once again will light up the night with their biggest festival show to date.
Other performers will include Jamie xx, Fred Again, Four Tet, JD EZ, DJ Annie Mac, Arlo Parks, and Eric Prydz just to name a few. This is certainly one Manchester festival you don't want to miss out on.
This festival is a celebration of the little known Szekler and Carpathian culture and traditions of Hungarians that lived in Transylvania, Romania. From June 24th to 26th Cathedral Gardens and Exchange Square in the city will be the site of fantastic music, dancing, food, drinks, and an array of arts & crafts workshops. Music for this UK festival ranges from traditional folk to rock and orchestral to kid's performers.
Local and international bands, orchestras, choirs, soloists, and dance groups come from Romania, Hungary, Croatia, and other areas of Europe. You can listen to music throughout the day and evening eating delicious dishes like goulash, chimney cake, and chicken paprikash while sipping Csiki beer. And one of the best things about this great event is that it is free to attend!
Feeling like you want to give back to the community? Here's your chance to give back and enjoy some great tunes. Wellifest, June 25th, and Saddleworth Show, June 26th, are the biggest charity festivals around. All the money raised goes to local and international causes and the whole event is run by volunteers, how awesome is that? It takes place at Well-i-Hole in Greenfield.
Even the performers are donating their time and services to the event, and the lineup of artists for Wellifest is amazing. See The Replicants, Fuzzy Duck, plus tribute bands The Chain (Fleetwood Mac) and The Foo Fighters, and headlined by the Manchester Ska Foundation. Saddleworth Show is dedicated to showcasing local artists of the Manchester scene. Both days are loaded with family activities, food and all-around good fun.
Sounds of the City
The Castlefield Bowl in Manchester is once again home to the Sounds of the City series of concerts starting June 28th and running until July 8th. Concerts happen almost every night featuring world renowned artists like the Crowded House, Soul II Soul, Lewis Capaldi, James, Primal Scream, and Hacienda Classical.
A party is not complete without food and drinks, and there will be a good selection of cuisine and drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, available during the concerts. Ticket prices for each concert in Castlefield Bowl, vary and some have sold out, so you will need to act fast or try your luck at the gate.
Wigan International Jazz Festival
Being one of the longest running festivals in the UK, Wigan International has been one of the premier jazz festivals in Europe. From the 7th to 10th of July, artists from Europe and the USA will get you grooving and moving at the Village on the Green at Aspull. There is a full bar and the kitchen serves up some tasty bites.
The line up for this year will feature some great artists such as Claire Martin & Dave Newton, Simon Spillett Big Band, Camille Thurman & the Darrell Green Quartet, and the Louis Dowdeswell Big Band. Saturday and Sunday will have 5 hour afternoon concerts with the Really Awful Orchestra, Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra, SK2 Jazz Orchestra and others. Flexible ticket options allow you to see all the performers or just the ones you want.
Live music and space, the two just seem to go together, think of 2001: A Space Odyssey and you automatically hear that iconic soundtrack. The Bluedot Festival is one of those cool events that combines great Manchester music concerts and really awesome space stuff. Live science experiments, expert talks, and interactive artworks are just a few of the events.
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre venue, with the Lovell Radion Telescope as a backdrop, will host a huge lineup of artists that features Groove Armada, Mogwai, and Bjork with the Hallé Orchestra. Be ready for four days, July 21st to 24th, of incredible alternative and indie sounds.
One of the first music events in the world that showcased DJs happened just outside Manchester in the UK. What was a one-day event has now become a four-day festival hosting crowds of 70, 000. A lineup of world-class DJs will take clubbers from the clubs to the great outdoors from August 25th to 28th.
This year the festival features 300 acts performing on 30 stages and comprises some of the biggest names in the business. Artists include Paul Oakenfold, Paul van Dyk, Pete Tong, Martin Garrix, Yousef, Hanna Wants, Nina Kraviz, Calvin Harris, Fatboy Slim, and David Guetta, with a special appearance by Idris Alba. If you are a clubber, this will be the best festival of the summer.
Manchester Folk Festival
The Manchester Folk Festival runs for several months starting in June and ending in October. The event features concerts throughout the Manchester city area. The festival was designed to bring the spirit of "a festival in a field" to the streets of Manchester. All of the concerts are within walking distance of each other, which makes it easy to move from one venue to another.
Some of the best folk singers and musicians in the UK such as Nick Hart, Calan, The Magpie Arc, Gasper Nali, Thea Gilmore, and Clare Sands will perform. Tickets vary in price depending on the venue and artist performing. If you are looking for a festival in the city, where you can enjoy excellent folk live music, then this is the one for you.
Planning to stay some more days in Manchester?
The music scene in Manchester is unrivaled in the UK, but there is so much more to do than just hit the festivals and concerts. When you are planning on being 3 days in Manchester, or more, you need to check out as much of the city as you can. That means planning your days to see and do all the best things Manchester has to offer.
One of the highlights in Manchester is the Manchester Festival of Nature. If you would like to find out about the wild plants and creatures that live in the city and its surrounding area, this is the place to be. Organised by the Manchester Nature Consortium, the festival takes place from the 26th of June until the 27th of June and features many conservation agencies operating in the North West.
Manchester is one of the liveliest cities in the country and the last thing you want to do is miss out on all the fantastic things to do at night. And if you like to be fascinated and amazed the museums in Manchester are a great place to go. From the concerts to the cuisine (be sure to try street food), Manchester offers so much you will probably have to come back again to discover it all.
If you're planning to stay longer in Manchester, take a look at our other Manchester guides for other fun activities!