A regularly updated list of public events affected due to the coronavirus
We stopped updating this article on 15th October; check out our Things to do section to keep up to date with what’s on
Below we’ve listed the major public events currently cancelled or postponed in Manchester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This list is subject to change and will be kept updated. It does not include events that did not announce 2020 editions.
For events that are going ahead on their usual dates, including as digital versions, check out our monthly listings.
POSTPONED EVENTS, INCLUDING DIGITAL...
MANCHESTER MIDNIGHT WALK | June (digital)
St Ann’s Hospice’s flagship fundraising event has raised over £2 million since its launch. Its fourteenth episode, originally due to run in April, instead took place 'virtually' throughout June. Still up for a fitness challenge? The City of Salford 10K is currently going ahead, having been postponed from September to November.
PILOT LIGHT TV FESTIVAL | 15th - 16th August (digital)
Pilot Light brings together all kinds of TV series - new, old, never-before-seen - and a sneak peek into what goes on behind the scenes; as well as events like masterclasses, panels and quizzes. Its fifth season, initially scheduled for May, was hosted digitally in August. More here.
MANCHESTER HISTORIES FESTIVAL | 4th - 5th September (digital)
Designed to share and celebrate Greater Manchester's diverse history and heritage, this biennial festival is usually held in June but instead became a late summer 'digifest' in September. Marking the 50-year anniversary of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (CSDPA) 1970, it was hosted by activist artist and educator Jackie Hagan (pictured).
PINT OF SCIENCE | 7th - 11th September (digital)
This worldwide pub-science festival usually brings some of the world’s leading researchers to pubs and cafes in 24 countries in May. Organisers instead hosted an online version in September, as well as various events via the website. More here.
GB SPRING CLEAN | 11th - 27th September
With more than 650,000 #litterheroes volunteering their time, this event - run by Keep Britain Tidy - normally sees community clean-ups take place nationwide in March-April. This year’s COVID-safe format, held in September, invited participants to host their own private clean-up or pledge a minimum of 15 minutes individually.
GREATER MANCHESTER FRINGE | 1st October - 30th November
Now something of an institution, this inclusive festival traverses comedy, drama and everything in between. Organisers have postponed the July event until autumn; the more recently established Levy Fringe is also postponed, until 22nd - 31st October. An emerging theatre buff yourself? Oldham Coliseum's (postponed) Cultivate Festival is also planned for 2020, should circumstances permit.
CHORLTON ARTS FESTIVAL | 3rd - 4th October (digital)
Visual art, music, performance, creative writing, crafts, film…Chorlton Arts Festival brings together all this and more, last year spanning over 100 artists and 39 venues across Chorlton. Organisers hosted a digital version of the May festival in early October. More here.
GM WALKING FESTIVAL | 12th - 25th October (digital)
This region-wide spring walking fest usually sees hundreds of free walks across all ten districts. Instead of hosting the event in its usual format, organisers are instead encouraging residents to set their own activities and targets with a virtual 'Let's Walk' fortnight from 12th - 25th October.
SALFORD BEER FEST | 12th - 14th November (digital)
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 it’s ambitiously going digital in November, with all profits going to charity as usual. We’d say that’s worth raising a pint or few. While cancelled in its usual format, IMBC is also hosting some hoppy happenings this autumn.
TO BE ANNOUNCED...
The following events haven't definitively cancelled, instead announcing earlier this year that they planned to host postponed events on a date TBA. While it's now looking increasingly unlikely, miracles (albeit rare in 2020) do happen...Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival, Science X, West Didsbury Comedy Festival and Manchester Day.
In the following list, 'cancelled' means the event did not/will not take place in 2020; certain events, however, have rolled over tickets and performances until next year. Events are listed in the order they would have generally taken place normally.
Following a successful debut in Gateshead, this dynamic literary festival was due to make its North West debut at the Lowry with the likes of Emma Jane Unsworth, Stuart Maconie and Sir Ralph Fiennes. The festival decided to take the lead of major literature events like London Book Fair and make ‘the incredibly difficult decision to cancel.’ Statement here.
NOT QUITE LIGHT FESTIVAL
Founded by acclaimed local photographer Simon Buckley in 2016, this quirky arts fest spans art, music, guided tours, architecture and debate - with all 2020 proceeds due to be donated to charity Henshaws. Buckley planned to postpone the March festival to October but ultimately decided it wasn't feasible.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE FESTIVAL
Originally due to take place in March, the sell-out You Are Not Alone Festival (YANA) takes over multiple city centre venues; showcasing exciting pop, rock and indie talent in aid of mental health charity Mind. After initially postponing to November, organisers have decided to cancel the event this year.
Short film institution KinoFilm has been platforming diverse, challenging and groundbreaking new cinema for over two decades. As with YANA, organisers postponed the usual March festival to November before deciding it still wasn't feasible. Statement here.
MANCHESTER RUM FESTIVAL
Manchester Rum Festival was due to take over new event space Viadux in April with over 50 rums, cocktails, food trucks, live music, talks and workshops. It has now been rescheduled to Saturday 17th April 2021. More here.
Now one of the UK’s leading events of its kind, the Manchester Marathon was due to take place in April. After a tentatively postponing to October, organisers were finally forced to cancel for 2020; the run will next be held on Sunday 11th April 2021. Statement here.
MANCHESTER PUNK FESTIVAL
With over 100 bands, comedy and poetry stage, vegan nosh, punk cinema and pop-up record store, this festival has become a punk calendar staple. In a painfully honest statement, the DIY indie fest said it has lost thousands of pounds and encouraged people to check out its merch store. Statement here.
RECORD STORE DAY
Involving thousands of people and small businesses, Record Store Day sees vinyl shops host special events across the world. While cancelled in its normal format, it will now take place via three RSD 'drop' dates: Saturday 29th August, Saturday 26th September and Saturday 24th October. More here.
MANCHESTER DUCK RACE
Raising money for children's charity Brainwave, this bank holiday favourite was due to return for its eleventh edition on Good Friday. Attempting to limit cancellation’s impact on the charity, Brainwave instead went ahead with the best dressed corporate duck contest via online poll. Statement here.
GREEN WALK ARTS & CRAFTS WEEKEND
This quirky event sees the residents of Green Walk, Whalley Range, let local artists and designers use their own houses as temporary exhibition spaces. Due to ongoing uncertainty, organisers decided to cancel rather than postpone. Statement here.
DOT TO DOT
Having previously unearthed the likes of The xx and Ed Sheeran, this metropolitan music fest - which usually takes place in May - has become known as one of the UK’s foremost celebrations of fresh talent. Organisers hoped to postpone but were forced to admit defeat. Statement here.
SOUNDS FROM THE OTHER CITY
One of Manchester’s longest running music fests - famed for its blend of indie promoters, upcoming talent and the fabled ‘Sounds’ atmosphere - SFTOC would have celebrated its sixteenth anniversary this year. Following a successful crowdfunder, it will return on Sunday 2nd May 2021. Its fellow longstanding Salford Music Festival, meanwhile, took place digitally in May.
GREAT MANCHESTER RUN
Known for its buzzing atmosphere and uplifting anthems, the Great Manchester Run - one of the UK’s favourite mass running events - was cancelled and will return on 23rd May 2021.
KING STREET FESTIVAL
Transforming Manchester’s historic shopping street, King Street Festival promises a ‘fun yet fashionable weekend (with) al fresco dining, exclusive in-store events, complimentary gifts, free fizz and tastings.’ Organisers hope to return with ‘beautiful #MCRFlowerShow blooms, outdoor eats, live music & VIP shopping next year.’ Statement here.
Lining up crowd-pulling chart-toppers year on year, Parklife has become the UK’s biggest metropolitan festival; this year it was due to celebrate its tenth anniversary with another cross-Atlantic blitz of big names, from Khalid to Lewis Capaldi. More here.
Founded in 2016, Irlam Live has since become a festival fixture; attracting thousands with local legends like the Lancashire Hotpots, and headliners spanning Billy Ocean to Sophie Ellis Bextor. Organisers planned to host a socially distanced version in accordance with government regulation but their license application was refused. Next year's event will take place 4th - 6th June.
Usually including a stint at Manchester’s HOME, this nationwide celebration of emerging theatre companies (cancelled for 2020) invites audiences to try something new for just a fiver. Other arts festivals taking a hiatus this year include Orbit (also at HOME), Waterside's Refract, Prestwich, WEEK 53 and the One Festival of Homeless Arts.
Spanning astronomical banquets to talks with leading scientists and galactic concerts, bluedot is a starry fusion of art and science. The popular Jodrell Bank staple will no longer be taking place in 2020 but is ‘postponing’ as much of this year’s programme to 2021 (22nd - 25th July) as possible - including Lovell Stage headliners Björk, Groove Armada and Metronomy. Summer 2020 instead saw a virtual Weekend in Outer Space spanning Elbow to Orbital and Brian Cox.
SOUNDS OF THE CITY
Its name is confusingly similar to Salford’s Sounds From the Other City but this summer concert series, with its focus on household names, is a different beast altogether. All acts that were due to play in 2020 - including Lewis Capaldi, Hacienda Classical and Foals - will perform next year, and tickets remain valid.
HALE BARNS CARNIVAL
Performers at Hale Barns Carnival 2020 were due to include Martha Reeves And the Vandellas, opera vocalist Russell Watson, and seventies pop rock band Bay City Rollers. Tickets will remain valid for next year’s event (16th - 18th July), says organiser Max Eden, whose ‘party at home’ lockdown events attracted over 40,000 viewers. Statement here.
MCM COMIC CON
The UK's leading brand of modern pop culture events, Comic Con has become known for more than just its wacky outfits: theatre panels, comic village, steampunk emporium and special guests to name but a few. This year, organisers are hosting a series of events online. Statement here.
They bravely held off cancelling until July but organisers of Flixton Festival were forced to finally admit defeat following ongoing social distancing guidelines. They say the event - started eight years ago as a fundraiser for the struggling Flixton Cricket & Sports Club - will be back next year. Statement here.
BOLTON FOOD AND DRINK FESTIVAL
While many Greater Manchester towns have annual food fests, Bolton is the biggest. One of the UK’s leading culinary events, it’s become known for its sprawling citywide market, lively events programme and celebrity chef appearances. Organisers are concentrating their efforts on supporting Bolton through the outbreak. Statement here.
ROCHDALE FEEL GOOD FESTIVAL
Alongside live music from both emerging and established performers (last year’s headliner was The Coral), this uplifting annual weekend also promises street food, kids’ entertainment and more besides. Organisers promise it’ll ‘be back next year with bells on.’ Statement here. It joins the council’s other major event cancellations, Rochdale Food and Drink Festival (usually April) and Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival (usually October).
Launched in London in 2014, Wing Fest has since grown into Europe's largest and most popular chicken wing festival - little wonder it caused a flap on debuting in Manchester last year. Writing off 2020, organisers have confirmed the event will return next August (14th - 15th). More here.
MANCHESTER FOOD AND DRINK FESTIVAL
It was supposed to be the first major festival to take place in the city centre since the COVID-19 crisis began, with organisers spending months organising a packed calendar of events (all socially distanced of course) to celebrate our vibrant hospitality scene in what has been its most challenging year yet. Sadly the main event was ultimately called off for 2020, although some smaller fringe events and the awards still took place.
MANCHESTER FOLK FESTIVAL
Contemporary folk straddles a multitude of genres at Manchester Folk Festival; the successor to Bury’s Homegrown, it’s the only festival dedicated to promoting and supporting new English folk and acoustic music. The festival will be back in 2021, when it will also host a sister event in Rochdale. Statement here.
COCKTAILS IN THE CITY
Bringing some of the UK’s leading bars under one roof, this nationwide ‘delectable festival of cocktails’ also promises discounted drinks, interactive experiences and one-off creations. Manchester's event will be back in 2021. Statement here.
GREAT NORTHERN CONTEMPORARY CRAFT FAIR
Celebrating designer-makers, GNCCF spans fine jewellery to functional homeware, statement accessories to unique prints. While they’ve had to cancel October’s GNCCF this year, organisers are instead championing would-be exhibitors online; following July's, another virtual fair will take place in November.
WOMEN IN COMEDY FESTIVAL
An antidote to the male-dominated world of comedy, this festival of female funniness - run by directors Hazel O’Keefe of Dulcet Sounds and Tribeca and The Frog and Bucket’s Jessica Toomey - would have celebrated its eighth year this autumn, however the ongoing restrictions around indoor performances has led to its cancellation. Statement here.
Normally October sees Mayfield transformed into a traditional Oktoberfest with live traditional oompah music, German beer served up in giant two-pint glasses and the likes of bratwust and pretzels. With the event cancelled, organisers are instead offering authentic Bavarian packages for you to celebrate at home.
MANCHESTER SCIENCE FESTIVAL
Originally due to return in October following a hiatus last year, MSF has now been pushed back to February 2021. The festival will explore how we should respond to the challenges of global warming through three lenses: our cities, our natural world and ourselves. More here.
MANCHESTER ART FAIR
Founded in 2008, Manchester Art Fair has become one of the UK’s largest and biggest art fairs. Alongside the fact that its usual Manchester Central location is set to remain a Nightingale hospital for 2020, rules around major exhibitions have forced the fair to cancel this year. Statement here.
MANCHESTER COFFEE FESTIVAL
This caffeinated celebration was due to return in November but the Cup North team ultimately decided to replace it with some smaller alternative activities; more here.
Manchester City Council usually arranges a series of popular Bonfire Night events in and around the city; from Heaton Park to Platt Fields. 5th November won’t be remembered (at least in the same way) this year as all council events have been cancelled. Statement here.
DOKI DOKI FESTIVAL
A diverse celebration of Japanese culture, Doki Doki spans calligraphy demos to kimono styling, martial arts to anime and spades of sushi; all culminating in a cosplay after-party. It will be back in November 2021. Statement here.
A vital fundraiser for the Booth Centre homeless charity, the Sleepout usually takes place at Manchester Cathedral; this year (as with Shelter's Sleep Walk), organisers are instead encouraging people to host their own. Centrepoint’s version was also cancelled, with would-be participants challenged to ‘stay up’ instead.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS SWITCH-ON
Normally a Manchester staple in the countdown to Christmas, the Lights Switch-On attracts some 20,000 people. Unsurprisingly it won’t be going ahead in its usual format this year, although a small socially-distanced event will see three NHS frontline workers switch on the lights instead; more here.
Love them or hate them, the markets bring thousands of people into the city centre - all eager to drink syrupy gluhwein or overpriced beer and munch on sausages of suspect origin. A disappointed 'Mr Christmas' (i.e. councillor Pat Karney), said: "We kept it under review but commercially and public health-wise they didn't pass the test."
NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORK DISPLAY
Predictably this joins the scrapped events list in 2020. Still, no doubt animals will be happy at the news. Statement here.
NB: This list does not include individual shows and smaller events; many of which are also affected. In the event of cancellation or postponement, anyone who has brought a ticket should contact their point of purchase.