Where to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023 in Manchester

Manchester plays host to events ranging from intimate supper clubs to radical exhibitions, female-focused festivals and more

By Emma Davidson | Last updated 16 February 2024

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Image: Suffragette City

Celebrated annually across the globe, International Women’s Day 2023 is next Wednesday 8 March. You can trace the roots of the idea of a day to honour women back to political movements in America, Russia and Europe.

German activist and advocate for women’s rights, Clara Zetkin thrusted the day into the international realm when she suggested it should be celebrated worldwide at the International Conference of Working Women in 1910. A hundred women from 17 different countries agreed unanimously and the day has been celebrated across the globe through marches, talks and events ever since. However, it wasn’t really until almost 100 years later in the early 2000s that International Women’s Day went truly mainstream.

In Manchester this year, International Women’s Day will be marked in true 2023 style with riotous raves, brewery tours and women-led supper clubs. The annual Walk For Women also takes place this Saturday, a city-wide gathering of individuals standing in solidarity with women across the globe and marching in celebration of achievements across history, as well as advocating for future equality.

Read on for our round-up of the best events taking place in Manchester for International Women’s Day 2023. 

Endometriosis affects one in 10 women worldwide. Image: Gallery Oldham

Now until 25 March
Ten women living with endometriosis have turned their bodies into canvasses for a moving exhibition at Gallery Oldham. Endomorphosis sheds a light on the debilitating but often overlooked and under researched condition that affects one in 10 women by translating their feelings about the physical and mental effects of endometriosis into a living artwork. The images of the women involved in the exhibition, aged between 21 and 39, are also accompanied by a film exploring the condition and its impact on those affected. It’s available to see for free until the end of March.

Walk For Women at Manchester Cathedral

Saturday 4 March
Across the city centre this weekend, hundreds of people will gather to march in solidarity with women across the globe. The Walk For Women, which marks IWD in Manchester and is a significant moment for female political and social achievements, will start its journey outside Manchester Cathedral at 12 noon for a 12.30pm start, before weaving through the city’s streets and ending at the Central Library in front of the statue of Manchester-born political feminist, Emmeline Pankhurst. Attendees are encouraged to bring with them “safe instruments” to bang across the 1.11km trail, where there will also be rest stops and dropped kerbs for wheelchair access.

Suffragette City at Canvas

Saturday 4 March
Back for its annual coming together in celebration of International Women’s Day, Suffragette City lands at Canvas this week with an incredible line-up of female and non-binary DJs. The multi-faceted venue will play host to local legends including Kath McDermott, Queer Latifah and Danielle Moore of Crazy P, alongside alternative DJs and collectives spanning house, disco, techno and electronic – only proving further that women sure know how to party. Suffragette City is a not-for-profit gathering of like-minded individuals, meaning that all funds made from ticket sales on the evening go directly to charity. Since its inception, the event has raised over £9,000 in funds to support vulnerable women and gender minorities.

Fancy trying your hand at making your own batch of craft ale? Image: Track Brewery

International Women’s Day collaboration brew at Track

Tuesday 7 – Thursday 9 March
For International Women’s Day this year, Manchester-based ale aficionados Track are throwing open the doors to their Piccadilly brewery as they welcome those who identify as women or non-binary to create three new beers. Tickets are free for the three-day event, which will see brewers Aleks and Kath guide guests through the intricate stages of crafting the perfect pour. And you might not judge a book by its cover, but you certainly do with a can of beer, so after a spot of lunch, also provided by the lovely team at Track, guests will meet the team’s in-house designer Amy where they’ll dress up their new tipple, before ending the day with a tasting of Track’s most popular beverages. 

Hawkmoor women winemakers three-course dinner

Wednesday 8 March
Manchester’s premium steak and seafood restaurant, Hawksmoor will showcase a line-up of female winemakers for International Women’s Day 2023, alongside a three-course sharing menu. To start, diners can enjoy old spot belly ribs with smoked mackerel salad and ash-baked beetroot, before tucking into a fillet, T-bone and bone-in prime rib served with an array of sides including triple-cooked chips, macaroni cheese and bone marrow gravy. Throughout the evening, the restaurant’s all-female wine team will talk you through the accompanying wine flight, which features bottles from Philippe Gonet, Terroir al Limit and more.

The life of suffragette leader and scientist Lydia Becker will be explored at The Pankhurst Centre this IWD. Image: The Pankhurst Centre

Lydia Becker talk at The Pankhurst Centre

Wednesday 8 March
The former home of Emmeline Pankhurst, located on 27 Nelson Street just off Oxford Road, now houses The Pankhurst Centre – an iconic centre for feminism. As part of this year’s celebrations, the centre is delving into the legacy of one of the leaders of the suffragette movement, Lydia Becker. Manchester-born Lydia entered into the world of politics with her views, talks, publications and lobbying at a time when women were far from welcomed into the field. Running from 6-8pm you’ll be welcomed with a glass of fizz on arrival and a performance by genre-defying string quartet, Vulva Voce. Sharing Lydia’s story across the evening is writer Joanna M Williams who will explore her novel The Great Miss Lydia Becker: Suffragist, Scientist and Trailblazer.

Free flowers from Club L London

Wednesday 8 March
A bouquet of beautiful blooms is appreciated any day of the year, but especially when it’s presented to you for free in a train station, just like a scene out of Love Actually. Fashion brand Club L London is playing the Hugh Grant to your Martine McCutcheon next week, by treating anyone passing through Victoria Station from 8am to a bouquet of seasonal flowers in honour of International Women’s Day. They’ll also be popping up at St Ann’s Square from 1pm if you fancy taking home a bunch for yourself via the midday trip to Tesco.

Lass Fest at GRUB

Wednesday 8 March
Returning to GRUB for 2023, Lass Fest is bringing a whole five days of events to celebrate International Women’s Day. Guests can expect all the usual local indie food and drink from Red Bank’s street food hotspot, as well as music, art, shopping, comedy, spoken word, film and more. Highlights include a dumpling rolling masterclass from the team behind Desert Island Dumplings, Girl Power Disco Bingo with a female-icons only singalong and a Feminist Founders Market featuring independent makers offering everything from art, clothing, homeware cosmetics and more. Lass Fest runs from 8-12 March with ticket prices ranging from £6 to £22. 

Image: Nibble

Free coffee at Nibble

Wednesday 8 March
Female-run Northern Quarter cafe Nibble is celebrating the day this year through an early morning pick-me-up, as from 8.30am-12pm on the official IWD date, they’ll be giving away free cups of coffee to anyone identifying as female. Snuggled in next to Pop Boutique on Northern Quarter’s Oldham Street, Nibble is an independent, female-run caff that champions women in the hospitality industry. If you make the trip, you’ll be met with the soothing scent of freshly baked brownies and brunch plates complete with all of the classics, alongside vegetarian and vegan favourites.

Female hip-hop evening at NQ64

Wednesday 8 March
A playlist of female fronted hip-hop dominates the basement of NQ64 this International Women’s Day, as it swings open its doors for an evening of retro gaming. The bar will be donating all proceeds from token sales on the night to Afrocats, a female-led, Manchester-based charity supporting people facing social exclusion across the city. The organisation works closely with communities and creates opportunities that address and dismantle inequality.

Women in Business breakfast at 20 Stories

Wednesday 8 March
Sitting high in the clouds above the city, 20 Stories is inviting guests to join its annual International Women’s Day business breakfast and Q&A at its 19th floor bar this year. Created to celebrate just some of the influential women of Manchester, the breakfast event raises vital funds for Manchester Women’s Aid – a charity supporting women to challenge gender inequality and ensuring aid for those suffering from domestic violence. This year’s panel is made up of women from varying sectors, including; founder of Martyn’s Law, Figen Murray, head of premium sales at Co-op Live, Becci Thomson and joint artistic director at Royal Exchange Theatre, Bryony Shanahan.

Image: Howard Barlow

Girls’ Night Out at Jodrell Bank

Wednesday 8 March
Women have played a leading role in scientific breakthroughs over the years, from the pioneering chemistry of Marie Curie to Ada Lovelace’s work as the first ever computer programmer, but how often are the lives of these women explored? Over at Jodrell Bank this IWD, the scientific centre is aiming to change the narrative, as visitors will get the chance to dive deeper into the lives of female physicists and astronomers including Caroline Herschel, a pioneer in the field who discovered several comets across her defining career. There’ll also be a chance to chat with Dr Rhian Jones, a reader in Isotope Geo and Cosmochemistry at The University of Manchester. Specialising in the solar system, she’ll share her extensive knowledge and talk you through the reason we’re always looking to explore beyond the sky above our heads.

Run The Show at The Deaf Institute

Wednesday 8 March
The female-led team behind The Deaf Institute are hosting an event showcasing the positive impact of women working in the music industry and nightlife sector across the city of Manchester. The full day of music, talks and networking will include special guests such as Karen Boardman, Artist Manager who has successfully guided the careers of bands such as Rae Morris, LAMB, J.P Cooper and Loose Articles and Rivca Burns, an award winning events pro, working for Manchester International Festival and Sounds From The Other City to name just a few. There’ll also be performances from Loose Articles and Hannah O’Gorman.

Heard Live at Feel Good Club

Wednesday 8 March
An evening for those with something to say, Heard Live is a spoken word event that welcomes both seasoned professionals and novices in the field. Taking place at Feel Good Club for this year’s IWD, Heard Live welcomes performers looking to share their stories through the medium of spoken word, reaching a relatable audience there to connect, learn and give back through their own shared experiences. The event is raising money for The Pankhurst Trust, a charity that works to promote women’s equality, protect those suffering from or at risk of domestic abuse and their dependants, and educate generations about the history of women’s rights. 

Pizza and beer brewed by a lovely bunch of lasses sounds great to me. Image: Port Street Beer House

Beer and pizza pairing at Port Street Beerhouse

Wednesday 8 March
Port Street Beerhouse is bringing a line-up of female fronted breweries to its taps for this year’s IWD, including Salford’s Strange Times Brewing collaboration with Crafty Beer Girls, a community of ale-loving women holding events across the UK. As well as this, the bar is also joining forces with local neighbours Nell’s for a beer and pizza pairing evening led by ale sommeliers Chess and Sarah. A pint and slice of 22-inch New York style pizza is one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially when that beer has been brewed by an incredible bunch of local women. 

Bad Bitch Club x Loose Fit at Gorilla

Wednesday 8 March
Gorilla have an excellent event planned this year to celebrate women in the music industry. The venue has teamed up with Bad Bitch Club and Loose Fit, for an IWD after-party spotlighting bands, performers and artists with women, non binary, trans and gender nonconforming members. Kicking off at 8pm with Manchester’s electro-pop producer PHIA SKY, Chardine Taylor Stone from feminist punk trio Big Joanie will then take to the decks from 9-10pm spinning some of her favourite female-fronted records. From 10pm-late, dancers will be left in the capable hands of DJ POLLY, a familiar face from the city’s scene, with residencies at the likes of YES, Manchester Academy and Manchester Psych Fest.

Illuminate Women’s Music with Trio Sonorité at the Anthony Burgess Foundation

Wednesday 8 March
Aiming to highlight and celebrate female composers from across history, as well as those who have made waves more recently, Illuminate Women’s Music brings another unmissable touring show to Manchester for IWD 2023. Founded back in 2017, Trio Sonorité are a group of Royal Academy of Music alumni each with international careers spanning successful chamber ensembles and award-winning London venues. Known for giving a platform to traditional forms of ensemble music, through their use of the clarinet, cello and piano, Trio Sonorité also explore new horizons via the work of 20th and 21st century composers.

Miriam Vaughan headlines a huge party at Brickhouse Social. Image: Brickhouse Social

SuPeR WoMeN at Brickhouse Social

Wednesday 8 March
Brickhouse Social over on New Wakefield Street is playing host to a huge free party for International Women’s Day 2023. Taking place from 7pm, an all female line up of DJs and songwriters is taking over the venue’s rooftop, more commonly known as The Greenhouse, in celebration of some of the city’s greatest female talent. From 9.30pm, a yet-to-be-announced bill of more underground performers will transform the bar area into a massive female focused party, headlined by resident Brickhouse DJ, Miriam Vaughan.

Poetry and music evening at Salford Arts Theatre

Wednesday 8 March
Working in collaboration with Blue Balloon Theatre, a female led theatre group for creatives wanting to develop their writing from page to stage, Salford Arts Theatre welcomes poetry and live music for IWD on Wednesday evening. With last year’s event being a sell out success, tickets are in demand for this year’s showcase that will feature a number of performers in the theatre’s Fourth Wall Bar.

Abstract floral art class at Exhibition

Wednesday 8 – Sunday 12 March
Joining forces with the wonderful team behind local grassroots art collective Art For Our Sakes, Exhibition is offering a creative painting class for IWD 2023 in its food hall concept on Peter Street. Joining a number of art, culture and music events taking place across the whole week at the venue, Exhibition will also showcase an gallery of women’s art, with artists including Natasha Emily Lynch, Jasmine Gardner and Olivia Abbott taking part in the spectacle. A line-up of all-female DJs will also lead the bar’s entertainment for the week, spinning some genre-spanning records under the venue’s mammoth disco ball.

The International Mother’s Day exhibition brings together selected artists from across the city. Image: supplied

International Women’s Day exhibition at Great Northern Warehouse

Friday 10 – Sunday 12 March
Great Northern Warehouse and art event specialists Cotton On MCR are launching a new exhibition for International Women’s Day. The International Women’s Day Exhibition runs from Friday 10 – Sunday 12 March and will be located at The Village Hall on Deansgate Mews. After putting out an open call for local artists, the exhibition is showcasing the chosen creatives who have crafted pieces through varying mediums, including; sculpture, textiles, painting, photography and more. It will launch with a party on Friday evening, and the artists debuting at the exhibition will also partake in a Q&A at the exhibition on Saturday.  

Radical Motherhood Digitalisation Event

Saturday 11 March
A roundtable discussion exploring the influence of mothers on radical feminist movements including the suffragettes is being hosted by the Working Class Movement Library. The in-person discussion has sold out, however a digital event is taking place from 1-2.30pm which will explore the library’s archive collection of radical motherhood artefacts, including posters, photographs, leaflets and more, as archivists also talk you through the art of archiving and preserving important objects from across history.

A full-day event featuring stalls, panels and wellbeing sessions is taking place in ABC Buildings. Image: Cultureville

International Women’s Day festival at ABC Buildings

Saturday 11 March
Offering a full-day dedicated to wellbeing, networking and creativity, this event at ABC buildings will celebrate the women at the centre of those industries. Hosted by Cultureville, an ethical, award-winning brand showcasing culture through fashion and curated events, the day will start with massage sessions in the pop-up spa and a chance to relax in the meditation area, before introducing guests to a number of speakers sharing insights and strategies for success. Canapés will be served at lunch, and a market showcasing black owned businesses will be available to browse. There’ll also be a sip and paint event, as well as music, comedy and poetry performances across the evening.

Yoga at Ducie Street Warehouse

Saturday 11 March
A full body stretch is a great way to start any day, but also as an important form of self-care this International Women’s Day. Alex Zalewska, a health and wellbeing yoga teacher based in Manchester, will invite guests to partake in an embodied yoga exploration, diving into the practice of self-love and learning to embrace all aspects of femininity. The session will feature women’s flow yoga, yoga asana, free movement, ecstatic dance, meditation and non-dual Tantra philosophy. It’s open to all levels.

IWD? Nailed it. Image: July Child Jewellery

July Child pop-up at Ducie Street Warehouse

Sunday 12 March
Back in January last year, we sat down with Sinead Flood, founder and creator of Manchester-based maximalist jewellery business July Child. Known for her bold, 90s inspired designs that look as though they’ve fallen out of a Toys R Us gumball machine, the brand has only been available to shop online so far – until now, as it’s popping up at Ducie Street Warehouse as part of the venue’s International Women’s Day celebrations. Available to shop in real life all-day Sunday 12 March, there’ll be a mix of the brand’s best selling statement pieces, as well as sample sale stock and never seen before styles. 

SuppHER supper club at Cloudwater

Monday 27 March
Four of Manchester’s most impressive female hospitality professionals are joining forces for a one-off IWD dinner at Cloudwater. In collaboration with suppHER, a not for profit, inclusive supper club that raises funds for vulnerable women, the menu on the evening will features dishes from Anna Søgaard, Baneta Yelda, Ngwafu Tansie and Seri Nam who have each individually crafted creative, continentally-influenced dishes at well-known restaurants including Where The Light Gets In, Flawd, Erst and pop-up street food concept, Gwafuvegan.