Manchester After Hours 2016: What to see

Manchester After Hours returns for 2016, with late opening at galleries, museums and venues around Manchester, and performances, workshops and experiences of all kinds across the city. Here's our pick of the programme.

Feature by Jess Hardiman | 04 Apr 2016

Part of the nationwide Museums at Night, which invites museums, galleries and venues to throw open their doors well into the evening, Manchester After Hours returns on Thursday 12 May to illuminate the city’s darker hours with bright-minded music, poetry, dance, art and culture.

For one night only, it’s a rare opportunity to explore many of Manchester’s venues by night, experiencing them in a whole new context (often with added booze, for starters), and you’ll find most events are free to attend.

The programming for Manchester After Hours 2016 features some of our favourite names and venues from across the city; here’s what we’re most looking forward to... 

Live drawing, arty darts and photobooth fun... 

Manchester Museum will stay open to the ripe old time of 10pm with SEESAW, an interactive live drawing event exploring the relationship between sound and image. Set in the Living Worlds gallery, artist-led drawing sessions will give visitors the chance to see their work projected in the space, while also enjoying performances scored by sound artist JC (6.30pm, performances at 8pm and 9.30pm, free).

Down at the Whitworth, the D'Arts Festival invites teams to battle it out in the Grand Hall, where players will be able to throw darts at specially-commissioned oches by artists Jai Redman, Mary Griffiths, Joe Hartley and Rob Bailey, while spectators can also enjoy music, drinks and pub games throughout the evening. (7pm, free to watch; register teams of five in advance, £20). 

[Live drawing. Image: Nata Moraru]

Art shop Fred Aldous has been known to do the odd late-night special every now and again, but this time it’s in partnership with the International Photobooth Convention. Open until 8.30pm, the shop will become a den of photobooth mugshots, risograph zine workshops, three-minute live portraiture and all of the general affable goodness you’ve come to expect from the Northern Quarter’s creative kingpins (6pm, free).

Bizarre video, intimate concerts and train rides...

Manchester promoter and Sounds from the Other City regular Bad Uncle is also getting on board, taking you on a journey into the bizarre world of children’s television with Bad Uncle’s TV Party at the Central Library, where the lowest form of entertainment gets a high-learning setting for a surreal evening of overlooked clips and shows (5.30pm, free).

Meanwhile, Manchester Camerata are escaping the grandeur of their regular concert halls for two intimate live performances from musicians Caroline Pether and Hannah Roberts in Common, along with a Camerata-curated soundtrack that’ll take you through everything from Steve Reich to Bach (6pm, performances at 6.30pm and 8pm, free).

Another trusted name round these parts, local promoter Hey! Manchester will be taking to the Museum of Science and Industry for a musical tour on the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway, featuring one-off acoustic performances on the station platform (6.30pm, 7.45pm and 9pm, £3.50).

Poetry, dance and spoken word...

Poet and Guardian First Book award winner Andrew McMillan will join forces with contemporary dancer and choreographer Joshua Hubbard, together creating Physical, an intimate performance of reading and dance at Manchester’s regal Georgian library, The Portico (6pm, performances at 6.15pm, 7.15pm and 8.15pm, free).

[The Portico Library]

Chetham’s Library is getting its own Poetry Night, where spoken word, poetry, live music, performance and creative workshops will nestle together among an exhibition of 19th-century poetry in the UK’s oldest public library (7pm, free).

Over in Cheetham Hill, the live lit bods of Bad Language present Voices of the City, a series of short stories and poems inspired by archival footage of Manchester, all housed in the atmospheric Manchester Jewish Museum – one of the city’s most interesting venues that you’ve probably never been to, but should (8.15pm, performances from 9pm, £5).

Music and food, food and music! 

If it’s more music you're after, Debt Records are taking over The Lowry’s exhibition space for an immersive evening delving into the record-making process, interspersed with performances from the label roster, plus special guests (5pm, free).

And because our hunger for culture must always be matched with the appropriate sustenance, Castlefield Food Festival will be taking over Castlefield Bowl with a night market, where you’ll find a bountiful bevy of street food, farmers’ and producers’ stalls, food demos, masterclasses and live music (4pm, free).

Manchester After Hours
Thursday 12 May 2016

Check out the full line-up here.