Things to do in Manchester this week: 19th - 25th January 2018

This week sees the highlight of Ben Brown's calendar: me mam's annual Pie Night. It's a lavish affair, featuring a fully stocked bar, a devilishly difficult quiz and quite possibly the greatest pie making contest in the Northern Hemisphere.

By Ben Brown | January 18th '18

Attendees are required to make a pie and enter it into one of the four categories. All the pies are then tasted, mulled upon and discussed, with voting then deciding the winners. I’m hoping to win this year with an innovative Rum ‘n’ Ting pie so fingers crossed. For everyone else who isn’t invited, don’t worry – there’s enough going on elsewhere…

The Manchester Soul Train
Friday 19th January
There has been a raging dilemma unfolding within my brain box over the last 20 minutes or so as I’ve wrested with which soul night to include this week – because there’s two corkers in the calendar. The Manchester Soul Train is one of them. Taking place at Gorilla, you can expect a night full of funk, soul, disco and Motown – pretty much everything I’ve been listening to for the past two weeks and am slightly obsessing over. Taking inspiration from the old US TV show that nobody in this country remembers or cares about, there will also be dancers, dance-offs and make-up artists to keep it all fresh and funky and enjoyable. I believe you should expect 10 DJ’s throughout the night, which is quite a lot really isn’t it?!

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Winter Beer Fest 2018
Friday 19th, Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st January
One of two events revolving around beer here. Seriously, this week has been a wash out. Unless you’re interested in either beer or soul music you’re fucked. Luckily for me, I am a big fan of both of these, which is ironic in a way because I also wrote this whole thing. Street Food specialists GRUB are putting on this Winter Beer Fest at the weekend over at the Fairfield Social Club, and so if you can manage to avoid all the prostitutes on the way down, you’ll be greeted with a shit load of beers, DJs and street food, all in one handy package. It’s only a fiver to get in, or you can shell out 15 sheets to go every day if that’s your thing.

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Howling Rhythm – 60s Girl Group Special
Saturday 20th January
Of course, the raging battle in my head between which soul night to include ended up a draw, so they are both in here. I see this as a good thing, and a clear indication of how valuable my services are in writing this round up every week for the 2 people that read it. Say perhaps you’re doing something on Saturday night, like attending a Pie Night for example, well then you can go to the soul party on Friday and vice-versa. This particular one, Howling Rhythm is always excellent, and they’ve decided to concentrate on 60s girl groups this week – so you’ve got Martha Reeves, The Supremes and all that lot to dance to.

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Mental @ HOME
Starts Monday 22nd January
Something a bit more on the heavier side here – and about as far away from pies and soul music as you can get – it’s Mental at HOME. This production, as part of HOME’s Push 2018 season, tells a “moving and personal story about one son’s relationship with his mother and her mental health”. This is like the bit in Tarrant on TV when it would get all serious just before the ad break, and that’s mostly because I can’t really sit here and try and make gags – not only because I’m not funny but also because mental health is proper serious. Hopefully with a slowly increasing exposure to mental health, and the fact that establishments like HOME are putting productions like Mental on, these issues will enter public consciousness more and idiots like me will understand the real problems and difficulties associated with mental health conditions. The production looks fantastic too though.

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Greg Davies: You Magnificent Beast
Tuesday 23rd January
Most people will remember Greg Davies as Mr. Gilbert, the Head of Sixth Form from The Inbetweeners, and someone who, as an actor, got the chance to get off with Will’s mum – the lucky bugger. You may also recognise him from his many appearances on those panel shows they have on Dave all the time, as well as the being the mascot for Green Giant Sweetcorn. He’s a bloody big bugger, but he’s also a rather funny bugger too – and luckily for anyone who likes to laugh – he’s at the Opera House this week. There’s still a few tickets knocking about as I write this, so get involved if you fancy it.

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Manchester Beer & Cider Festival 2018
Starts Thursday 25th January
There’s nothing better than walking around a big desolate space with a pint glass, trying, discussing and pretending to know a thing or two about a wide selection of ales and ciders. Well actually, there’s a lot of things better than that including (in no particular order); eating a sausage roll in the bath, staying in a hotel and walking around with your arse out and attending a Pie Night in Oldham. But if you fancy a nice bit of ale or cider, typically brewed by some bloke with a beard and Batman t-shirt then this is the place to go. I’ve been to it before and it’s always a good time, helped in part by the fact that you’ll be slowly getting more drunk as the night progresses.

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Burns Night
Thursday 25th January
There was a year once when I made a fantastic Haggis & Black Pudding Pie and won my category – easily I might add, as it was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Well this Thursday sees your chance to tuck into some haggis yourself with every Scot’s favourite evening – Burns’ Night. There’s rather a lot of events going on around the city, mostly including haggis and whiskey, and to be fair I’m still undecided about which one to attend. It may be that I’m forced to assume a ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ situation and try to attend them all at the same time. There’s a 4 course taster and Whiskey pairings at Albatross & Arnold, a 9 course taster at Beastro, some Zamponi & Scottish Gin at DG x Per Tutti and a 3 course dinner at Randall & Aubin to name but a few. Either get to one of these or just stay at home, and watch Braveheart while eating a deep-fried pizza and drinking Irn Bru.