If Randy Crawford was your role model and street life was the only life you knew, then your idea of existence would probably be side-stepping miserable shoppers on exhaust-fume-filled afternoons. As it happens, in Manchester, they take a more enlightened view, blessing us with the "Streets Ahead Festival", two all-singing, all-dancing weekends devoted to the pleasurable possibilities of the pavement. Tonight, a mascleta of Spanish firecrackers heralds a trapeze act, music, and a Colombian fantastical dress show. On Sunday, the action switches to Stockport for the main event: a parade followed by a flavoursome afternoon of 25 acts - watch out for the French jet-propelled peanuts and the Natural Theatre of Bath. On Monday, revellers move to Bury, where busking New York women go latino.
6-9pm, Albert Sq, Manchester; Sun: 12.30-5.30pm, Market Pl, Merseyway, Stockport; Mon: Market St, Bury, most events free
Not content with changing the face of women's magazines, Cosmopolitan has decided to go public with its first ever consumer extravaganza. Inside the hallowed halls, Nineties woman can get first-hand information about all areas of existence: from fashion to finance, careers and home interiors, to beauty, travel and entertainment. Oh yes, and sex. Top designers including Amanda Wakeley, Red or Dead and Ben de Lisi provide the fashion displays. Beauty and hairdressing tips will be on offer, along with self- improving seminars and workshops ranging from the particular ("Fat to Flat") to the general ("I Want More" - the hassle-free way to get what you want in life). The Chinese art of Feng Shui will be tapped to give you enough energy to get home.
10am-6pm, Earl's Court 2, London SW5 (info: 0990 143014) to 6 May, pounds 9
QUEER UP NORTH
The Cornerhouse in Manchester is celebrating cinema's centenary in high style. Firstly, with the two-day "Living Picture Show" in which actors guide you through the best and worst of film history - the chariot race from Ben Hur, the wedding scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral. Secondly, it is playing host to the touring London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival ("Burn"). Find out about San Fran's dyke leather community, what it's like to be a Playgirl centrefold (Man of the Year, below) and the ins and outs of the Tokyo drag king.
Living Picture Show to Sat; Burn: to 9 May, 70 Oxford St, Manchester (0161-228 2463)
Mayfest has already started, flooding the city with culture and value. Still time to catch the last day of the Maydance, a fusion of Latin American, ballroom and highland dance, but things don't really get underway before Sunday's May Day celebrations in George Square, with music and street entertainments.
To 31 May. May Day celebrations: 11.30am. Info hotline: 0141-287 5000
TEDDY BEAR'S PICNIC
It's picnic time for teddy bears once again. In Abinger Hammer, Surrey, they're doing much more than just providing a bearbecue and bad puns. They want bears that look like Barbara Cartland - pink chiffon, false eyelashes, the works. Those bears with no literary skills can always enter themselves under Countryside Bear, Brainy Bear or Ruined Bruin categories. Pooh-sticks and pony rides available.
Abinger Hammer Village Green, Dorking, Surrey, 2-5pm (info: 01306 730868)
Where better to spend the weekend than posh Little Venice where you can see decorated boats, canoeing and - natch - morris dancers.
To Mon, Warwick Avenue, London
A celebration of the British motor industry's centenary. For buffs: there'll be the 1987 Daimler, a prototype Jensen sports car, the only surviving Austin Gypsy "Jeep", and the Silver Ghost which set a world endurance record back in 1907. For celeb-hunters: Nigel Mansell and Griff Rhys Jones.
NEC, Birmingham: 9.30am-6pm daily; pounds 10, under-14s free (0121-767 4400) to Mon
SPITALFIELDS DOG SHOW
The Endangered Dog Association and Eurodog (Stepney) present the second Spitalfields Dog Show in memory of Otis, "the Great Dane Cross wrongly identified and killed as an unlicensed pit bull". All dogs are welcome - young and old, mongrel and known. The various categories include "people in housing crisis who have dogs" (judged by Johnny Morris), and bull breeds. Dog carting and an exhibition of dog history. Expect hundreds of mutts.
Old Spitalfields Market, Brushfield St, London E1 (0171-375 0441) 1pm for 2pm start, free
A three-hour lecture couldn't do justice to this year's Brighton Festival, packed to capacity with cultural amazements (Peter Sellars in conversation, the Trisha Brown dance company, Alfred Brendel, Hanif Kureishi and Harry Hill to list a few). , catch the Maly Theatre of St Petersburg's Gaudeamus (based on the only novel to be banned under Gorbachev) or the opening of "Make Space", an exhibition looking at traditional and highly alternative theatre design (Rake's Progress, above), in the festival's new epicentre, the Corn Exchange. Mind-stretching types should also pop into Do Tongues to see comedian Ken Campbell tonight or for an 11am philosophy- and-breakfast sesh at the media centre.
Venues round Brighton (01273 706771) to 26 May. Do Tongues: 01273 707900
THE OLD ONES ARE THE BEST
It's that time of year again when musicals return from that great revolving stage in the sky to be semi-staged, for your matinee delectation. First in the five-strong series "Discover the Lost Musicals" is Out of This World, a 1950s raunchmobile by Cole Porter.
Barbican Cinema 1, Silk St, London EC2 4.15pm (0171-638 8891) pounds 12
The now annual "Blessing of the Lambs" ceremony (left) at St Chad's Church, giving the Lord thanks for the beautiful lambs of the dale. Oh yes.
10.30am, Middlesmoor, Yorkshire
RICHARD E GRANT
He's a superb character actor who just happens to have been in one of the biggest cult films of the Eighties. And who is he to turn his nose up at the celebrity showered on him since Withnail and I? His first book, a collection of film diaries, is unashamedly entitled: With Nails.
Almeida Theatre, London N1 (0171-359 4404) 6pm, pounds 5
He invented grumpy rock 'n' roll, yeah. He wears a black T-shirt (below). He's on the road again (new album: Set the Twilight Reeling). So what's new? Well, he says he's in love, for one thing.
Labatt's Apollo, Manchester (0161-242 2560) tonight; Wembley Arena, London (0181-900 1234) Thur
It will be big, it will be free and it will convert all non-believers to south London. Children get their faces painted, inflatables to bounce on and clowns to laugh at. The same for adults, plus politics: striking Liverpool dockers and Trades Union members (what are they, daddy?). Music (Dub War, Transglobal Underground), debate (Tony Banks on drugs), comedy (Kevin Day and Boothby Graffoe), a progressive bookfair and beer from The Workers Beer company. Nuff said?
Clapham Common, London SW11, 12noon-8pm
SILVERSTONE CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE FESTIVAL
If you like classic motorcycles, you'll love this, with one of the largest gatherings of famous old factory racers ever seen.
Silverstone, Towcester, Northants (booking: 01327 857272) pounds 8
He has sold out, but it's probably still worth queuing for returns for the poetry highlight of the month, as Seamus Heaney (above) steps on up to the mike to give his latest impeccable collection, The Spirit Level, an airing. Don't let his having won the Nobel Prize distract you from the fact that he is alive and still writing darned good verse.
QEH, London SE1 (0171-960 4242) 7.30pm
CHINESE STATE CIRCUS
From Shandong, a circus troupe: 46 performers accompanied by an orchestra who perform individual and ensemble balancing acts. Watch out for the contortionist whose body turns from a ball into a hatstand and can do backwards rolls while balancing four candelabras on her hands and feet. The "Peacock Cycle" promises 14 girls on one bicycle. Now there's an idea for more environmentally-friendly public transport.
The Theatre Big Top, Preston Park, Brighton to 27 May, pounds 6-pounds 16.50 (info: 01273 330433)
After an absence of more than 20 years, the legendary choreographer/dancer, Antonio Gades, returns to London to present his masterpiece of Spanish dance, Carmen (below), created in collaboration with Spanish film director, Carlos Saura. Gades, with a 30-stong company of dancers, flamenco guitarists and singers, will take Bizet's score and make it undulate with raw, sensual heat.
Sadler's Wells, Lilian Baylis Theatre, London EC1 (0171-713 6000) 8pm to 18 May, pounds 7-pounds 35
Future generations will no doubt laugh at the primitive nature of our technology. What better way to preempt that scorn than by setting up an interactive exhibition set in the future. Granada Studios' Futurevision - opened this week by Arthur C Clarke via a satellite link from Sri Lanka - takes you to the year 2056, where all you ever wanted to know about video-conferencing and the electronic high street will be explained by your guide Miss Superhighway. More importantly, you will be shown that our prehistoric TV efforts will never perish - Cracker is a "cult" in 2056, apparently. Hmmm.
Part of Granada Studios Tour, weekly (Tue-Sun) pounds 12.99 adults, children pounds 8.99, under fives free (info: 0161-832 4999)
REDEFINING EAST END WOMEN
The result of a project begun in 1995 to challenge the notion that all women in the East End look and talk like Pauline and Pat from EastEnders, this exhibition reflects the multi-cultural nature of the area, telling the stories of women and girls using their own words and photographs.
Ragged School Museum, Copperfield Rd, London E3 (0181-980 6405) to 11 Jul
SYKES AND NANCY
Over on the west side, Oddbodies perform Sykes and Nancy, a collection of pieces taken from some of Charles Dickens's best-loved stories.
BAC, Lavender Hill, London SW11 (0171-223 2223) 7.30pm to 26 May, pounds 9/pounds 6
EVE ARNOLD: IN RETROSPECT
Introduced to photography by chance, Arnold is a walking advertisement for the art of self-teaching. Some 200 exhibits ("Joan Crawford, dress fitting, 1959", above) attest to her genius. Also showing: the first major retrospective of the life and work of Derek Jarman: paintings, designs and Super 8 films galore.
Barbican Art Gallery, London EC2 (0171-382 7105) to 18 Aug
MOLLY DINEEN MASTERCLASS
Molly Dineen has given fly-on-the-wall documentary-making a wake-up call: changing our perceptions of London Zoo and retired Colonels from Kenya.
Cultural Partnerships, 90 De Beauvoir Rd, London N1 (advance booking only: 0171-254 8217) 6.30-10.30pm, budding filmmakers only
Tchaikovsky's "lost" opera, The Enchantress, in which both a young prince and his father angle for the same woman, gets its British stage premiere courtesy of New Sussex Opera. Directed by John Lloyd Davies.
The Dome, Brighton, 7pm, pounds 7-pounds 22.50 (info: 01273 706771)
England is host to the largest and longest running craft event in Europe, attracting no fewer than 600 craftspeople, displaying traditional rural and contemporary urban skills.
Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, 10am-6pm to 12 May, pounds 5.80 adults, pounds 2.60 children (info: 01582 761235)Reuse content