The various summer sporting tournaments are hotting up and reaching the business end of their programmes, so this week is the final countdown, as Europe once sang. It’s an appropriate song in other ways, of course, but we’re not here to talk about politics or sport when the playing field is set for another week’s worth of music, comedy, theatre and film across the Greater Manchester region. Here are our highlights:

Kicking off with the more theatrical disciplines of that cultural smorgasbord, if Friday’s Greater Manchester Fringe Festival launch fell below your radar then there’s almost a month remaining to make amends. The annual thespian takeover of many of the combined authority’s nooks and crannies continues with aplomb, tonight (Monday 4th) featuring budding superstars dramatising at venues such as Salford’s Eagle Inn and Kings Arms, Canal Street’s Bandit, Mugger & Thief, Northern Quarter’s Twenty Twenty Two, Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats and the Albert Square Chop House. Its boards will be trodden until Sunday 31st, so check out the long list here.

Tuesday 5th sees a reprisal of a classic based on another classic, as Easy Star All-Stars embark on a tour marking 10 years since they released their reggae-fused paean to Radiohead’s OK Computer, which is itself edging closer to a 20th birthday. Radiodread’s 10th anniversary presented at Band on the Wall will be something of a testimonial performance.

The multi-talented Welsh creative Novo Amor will take his piano seat on Wednesday 6th, just as his native pig’s bladder booters head off in search of goals the same night. The former’s show is at the Castle Hotel; the latter will be hoping to build a fort in France.

Canadian comedy cynic Glenn Wool is the star attraction at this week’s Group Therapy dose of Edinburgh festival previews at Deaf Institute. Their competition that night is a tongue-in-cheek swipe at Manchester’s recent developments by the local heritage and built environment campaigns group, The Shield. It’s an awards night crowning the best and worst in the city at the under-threat Star & Garter, with entertaining interludes from acerbic verbal acrobat Thick Richard and more. Equine folk rockers Band Of Horses also make hay at Albert Hall.

The region’s festival of the weekend is Velvet Badger, which serves up a volley of local aces, oddballs and anomalies, with Paddy Steer, Gideon Conn, Marc Constantine, Caulbearers and Henge all taking their musical equipment down to a barn just outside Buxton. You have a couple more hours to enter our competition for tickets before we pick a winner out of the digital bag; the festival spans Friday 8th and Saturday 9th.

Closer to home on Friday 8th, local lad J Chambers launches his new EP at Band on the Wall, combining gospel with hip hop. Otherwise, the Eastern-influenced psychedelic poppers Ethan & The Reformation peddle their grooves at Soup Kitchen, or one quarter of the Magic Numbers (based on De La Soul’s logic, does that make her three quarters?), Michele Stodart, does her sums at Eagle Inn as her new album of gentle glistening acoustic ditties is due to enter the world the same day. Returning to Canal Street, Qwerk‘s alternative club night melds past and present house classics at Sub 101, featuring DJ Andy Daniels on the ones and twos.

The weekend’s evening shows to look out for are Portland singer songwriter Tihirah Memory at Band on the Wall and the bass guitar triumvirate of Evil Blizzard at Ruby Lounge, merging a penchant for masks with heavy rocking Spinal Tap references.

Night owls can sample either So Flute‘s summer funky soul vibes at Hidden or a night of house and disco on a barge courtesy of Trojan Measure.

As time ticks through to finals day on Sunday 10th, conclusions are due for both Wimbledon and Euro 2016. Another sporting venture is the Sky Ride from MediaCity, encouraging you to get on your bike through specially emptied streets. Later on, Ilkacase Qays is among the vocalists to close the curtain on this year’s Eid celebrations at Club Academy the same night.

In other news, The Skinny’s monthly cultural compendium is soon intended for broader shores, rebranding with a north-wide nomenclature to traverse the M62 and expand into Leeds.

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