What’s new in Manchester for 2022: music, theatre and exhibitions

From UK and world theatre premieres to the expansion of Manchester's oldest music venue, here's what's coming up in the cultural calendar

The last couple of years have been hugely difficult for the Manchester arts scene – but there’s plenty to look forward to in 2022.

From UK and world theatre premieres to the expansion of Manchester’s oldest music venue, here’s what’s coming up in the cultural calendar.

Manchester Open – art from Greater Manchester residents

From January to March 2022, the walls of HOME’s gallery will be filled with work from 400+ Greater Manchester residents as part of the Manchester Open. 

Following on from 2020’s award-winning exhibition, almost 2,300 artwork entries were submitted for judging for its second outing and the resulting show promises an unmissable insight into the city-region’s local artistic talent.

Royal Exchange – year-long programme celebrating the joy of theatre

Packed with an inspiring mix of bold contemporary plays, new writing and cast-iron classics, The Royal Exchange Theatre’s 2022 programme is a true celebration of performance and watching live stories unfold in a distinctive in-the-round theatre, after a difficult couple of years. 

Highlights include Nora: A Doll’s House, a searing adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House; an enchanting and brutal adaptation of the cult novel Let the Right One In; a new show written by and starring Maxine Peake, Betty! A Sort of Musical; Tennessee Williams’ classic, The Glass Menagerie; and the sharply funny story about a robot-nun, Electric Rosary.

Queer Contact – a celebration of queer culture and LGBTQ+ talent

Photo: Adrian Lambert

In February 2022, Queer Contact will return to Manchester’s Contact theatre for the first time in the newly transformed venue. 

Having recently undergone a £6.75 million transformation of its iconic building on Oxford Road, Contact has expanded to create enhanced performance and event space to support queer communities from across the region. 

Queer Contact began over a decade ago and has since become the beating heart of Manchester’s queer arts scene with highlights of the 2022 programme including drag kings, comedy, variety, ground-breaking performance and the annual Vogue Ball, a head-to-head display of skills from Vogue houses across the North West.

Band on the Wall – the city’s oldest music venue to expand

Band on the Wall has been a cornerstone of Manchester’s thriving music and cultural landscape for two centuries.

In spring 2022, the venue will have expanded into the Victorian Cocozza building that has been derelict to the rear of the venue for decades, taking the venue’s total gig capacity to 500 people. 

There’ll also be an enhanced archive and visual exhibition documenting the rich social and musical history of Manchester’s communities and the local area.

British Art Show – best of British art comes to Manchester venues

Photo: Drew Forsyth

This ambitious exhibition of contemporary art, which takes place across the UK every five years, will come to venues across the city including Castlefield Gallery, HOME, Manchester Art Gallery, and the Whitworth from May to September 2022.

In Manchester the exhibition will engage with the evolving nature of work and the ongoing struggle to shape a new social contract.

Mrs Doubtfire the Musical – UK premiere of Broadway hit

A hilarious and heartfelt story about holding onto your loved ones against all odds, Mrs. Doubtfire is the musical comedy we need right now.

Coming straight to Manchester direct from Broadway, the UK premiere of Mrs Doubtfire the Musical will open at the Opera House Manchester on 2nd September 2022 and will run until 1st October. 

Following the story of the much-loved 90s film starring the late Robin Williams, the new musical has been created by a transatlantic team of award-winning artists.

Science and Industry Museum – Manchester Science Festival

Following a digital festival in 2021, the next Manchester Science Festival is planned for October 2022. 

Packed with inspiring, entertaining and playful experiences for all ages, visitors will be immersed in the fascinating world of contemporary innovations and future developments.

Manchester Museum – reopening with extension and added galleries

Providing access to about 4.5 million items from every continent, Manchester Museum aims to be the most imaginative, inclusive, and caring museum you might encounter. 

Currently closed for construction work, it will reopen in late 2022 after a £13.5 million transformation that will add a two-storey extension, a new exhibition hall, South Asia Gallery, and Chinese Culture Gallery.

Claus the Musical – world premiere of a new Christmas musical

The world premiere of Claus the Musical will open at The Lowry on 14th December 2022, with tickets now on sale.

Based on the beloved children’s book The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum, this brand-new musical tells the story of Santa Claus, the man who will be forever in our hearts and, on Christmas Eve, forever in our skies.


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