Bringing the 1940s to life at IWMN

The 70th anniversary of VE Day is on May 8th this year and the Imperial War Museum North is putting on a fantastic day of 1940s activities to celebrate.

On Sunday May 3rd, ahead on VE Day, the IWMN will be bringing the 1940s back to life. There will be a vintage beauty parlour and lindy dancing as well as artefacts on display for the first time.


A new archive film compilation depicts VE Day celebrations as they unfolded in Manchester, and the emotions that went with them, with personal stories from veterans and their families. Civilians and servicemen celebrated long into the night with street parties and impromptu sing-alongs in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens. The footage will be projected onto a 27ft high wall of IWM North’s Main Exhibition Space at 1pm and 3pm.

IWM North VE DAY flyer

There is a talk by Dave Haslam on a side of life that perhaps isn’t what first comes to mind when thinking of wartime and that is nightlife and dancing. Due to tickets for the midday talk going really quickly he will be giving the talk and Q&A again later on that day at 3.30pm- the talk is free but due to space tickets need to be booked here.

During wartime men and women in Britain had found new ways to dress within severe austerity measures. As a major Fashion On The Ration exhibition opens in IWM London, author of the accompanying book Julie Summers joins visitors at IWM North to talk about how fashion survived and even flourished in 1940s Britain. The talk and Q&A takes place at 1.30pm (again needs to be booked).fashion on the ration 1940s

Visitors inspired by Haslam’s talk on nightlife can take part in a 1940s dance taster session in IWM North’s Main Exhibition Space. Meanwhile those inspired by Summers’ talk on fashion can get their hair done in an authentic 1940s style by a vintage stylist on site and share a #40sSelfie @IWMNorth on Twitter. Or come already dressed in your own vintage clothes to take part in a 1940s fashion parade, compered by Haslam.

I’m going to this in the afternoon- do say hello if you see me, maybe we can grab a coffee together?

Open daily from 10am – 5pm with free admission at The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ (close to MediaCityUK Metrolink and Junction 9 of the M60)