Andrew Anderson, Theatre Editor

Graduations aren’t just about gowns, diplomas and funny-looking headgear: they’re a chance to spend quality time together. It might even be your last opportunity to explore Manchester – the city your daughter/son/friend has called home for three-plus years – before they go off and get a real job (you hope).

First, you’ll want to make sure you take in at least a couple of the city’s most iconic buildings. For something old try the John Ryland’s library, whose current exhibition The Life of Objects explores the possessions of famous people such as Lord Byron.

For the newer side of the city, we’d recommend the recently refurbished Whitworth art gallery. Not only is it right by the universities, it also has some wonderful exhibitions on right now including a collection of photographs of Mumbai and prints created by Indian-born artist Raqib Shaw.

If you’re in the city centre, it has to be Yang Sing for food – regularly voted as the best restaurant Chinatown has to offer – while for those with more Mediterranean tastes we’d plump for newly-opened Suri on King Street. If you’re about for Sunday lunch my personal pick would be Gorilla, which has good food, a great atmosphere and isn’t too pricey.

As for celebratory drinks, for champagne head over to Épernay – Manchester’s best wine bar – while for longer sessions you’re best bet is Sandbar.

Of course there’s only so much you can do in a short visit, but make sure you don’t miss out on the city’s single biggest cultural attraction. MIF has turned Manchester into a global arts name, and while the ticketed events might not be an option you can still take part thanks to free events such as True Faith, which celebrates the legacy of Joy Division and New Order. If you’ve got any teenagers in tow, they’ll thank you for taking them (or at least mumble appreciatively).

Here are our picks

  • 1. The Life of Objects at John Rylands Library

    Walt Whitman's flowers. Credit: The University of Manchester Library.

    The Life of Objects at The John Rylands Library, City Centre, 16 March–27 August 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Featuring objects including a fragment from the lining of Napoleon’s coffin, The John Rylands Library’s latest exhibition sets out to prove that a library’s stories are not just contained within books.

  • 2. Gorilla

    Gorilla, Whitworth street Manchester

    Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth Street West, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5WW - Visit now

    Gorilla Manchester is a bar, kitchen and music venue that does a tasty (and affordable!) Sunday roast.

  • 3. Sooni Taraporevala: Home in the City, Bombay 1976 – Mumbai 2016 at the Whitworth

    Sooni Taraporevala Koli Grace Bombay 1976.

    Sooni Taraporevala: Home in the City, Bombay 1976 – Mumbai 2016 at The Whitworth, Manchester, 4 March 2017–1 January 2018, free entry - Visit now

    The first UK solo exhibition by photographer, screenwriter and filmmaker Sooni Taraporevala, which depicts the history of Mumbai.

  • 4. Yang Sing

    Yang Sing

    Yang Sing, 34 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 4JY - Visit now

    One of the most well-known Chinese restaurants in Manchester, Yang Sing has been feeding Mancunians for forty years.

  • 5. MIF17: True Faith at Manchester Art Gallery

    Slater B. Bradley, Factory Icon, 2000/2017, Courtesy Slater Bradley Studio, Berlin and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo, © Slater B. Bradley

    MIF17: True Faith at Manchester Art Gallery at Manchester Art Gallery, Chinatown, 30 June–3 September 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Manchester International Festival presents an exhibition of internationally acclaimed artists to mark the ongoing cultural significance of New Order and Joy Division.

  • 6. Épernay

    Afternoon tea at Epernay Manchester.
    Image courtesy Épernay.

    Épernay, Great Northern Tower, Unit 1A, Watson Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4EE - Visit now

    A discrete – perhaps even a little bit hard to find – bar that celebrates that fizziest of drinks: champagne.

  • 7. Suri

    Ian Jones

    Suri, 20-22 King Street, Manchester, M2 6AG - Visit now

    This beautiful King Street restaurant specialises in high quality Middle East-meets-Mediterranean small plates.

  • 8. Raqib Shaw at the Whitworth

    Raqib Shaw, After A Midsummer Night's Dream. © Raqib Shaw and The Whitworth, The University of Manchester.

    Raqib Shaw at The Whitworth, Manchester, 24 June–1 November 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Raqib Shaw’s paintings, created by manipulating pools of enamel and metallic industrial paints using a porcupine quill, are as sumptuous as they are subversive.

  • 9. Sandbar

    Sandbar sign Grosvenor Street Manchester.
    Image courtesy Sandbar.

    Sandbar, 120 Grosvenor Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 7HL - Visit now

    Sandbar, just off Oxford Road in Manchester, is a well-loved watering hole, with a great selection of ales and some eccentric seating.