Free Things to do in Manchester… Watch the BBC Philharmonic

Down at MediaCity, you can watch a live performance of one of the UK’s most prestigious orchestras.

By Emma Davidson | 31 July 2022

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You’ve probably heard the BBC Philharmonic’s sweet melodies pouring out of the radio at some point in your life. The orchestra, which was formed in Manchester back in 1922 has given the first broadcast of many famous English scores – and still to this day holds a huge legacy within the city. 

Back in 2011, the BBC transferred its base to Salford after the completion of Media City on Salford Quays, which, in turn meant that the majority of its shows were now being shot, recorded and streamed live from the Northern premises.

The BBC Philharmonic performing at the Free Trade Hall in 1975

One of the studios that opened was a dedicated BBC Philharmonic studio, which you can now attend for free during one of the orchestra’s monumental live-streamed performances. 

If you’re lucky to bag yourself a ticket for one of the showings on its limited programme run, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a first-hand celebration of the beauty of the orchestra that now spans 100 years and thousands of members. 

Back in 2017, Manchester music icons, Elbow performed a free show with the Philharmonic at the studio in Salford. The evening saw Guy Garvey and Co joined by a team of flurried fans who had managed to bag free tickets on the day – and was streamed live on BBC 6 Music. 

As you can imagine, most of the show’s are very high in demand, so once a performance is announced fans can apply for free tickets to be in the audience and are then selected at random to attend the sought after performances

Applications are currently open to take part in events on the 10th and 11th of September, which coincide with Salford’s brand-new ‘We Invented the Weekend Festival’ – a community-led free festival for the North. 

The piece will be composed by Michael Betteridge (Artistic Director of The Sunday Boys – Manchester’s LGBTQ+ low voice choir), and performed alongside the BBC Philharmonic in the MediaCityUK Piazza during the festival and will form one of key parts of the festival programme.

This time, you can be in with a chance to join the orchestra live on-stage, as it’s currently looking for instrumentalists and vocalists to join in with the mass community performance. A bit different to how the Philharmonic usually runs its free events, but also a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform with a team of some of the most well established musicians in the UK.

If you’re looking for more BBC Philharmonic events and don’t mind paying a little extra to witness the splendour live, the group also hosts regular performances at the Bridgewater Hall in the city centre. Over the next couple of months they have four performances with varying conductors and genre journeys – you can view the shows here

Follow the link below to explore the upcoming free events at Media City.


Explore BBC Philharmonic’s Free Events