Image courtesy of Visit Britain

The Quays, Greater Manchester

Creative Tourist

The Quays is an area that’s gone from busy industrial dock to 21st century cultural hub in just over 100 years. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1894, the Salford Docks (as they were then known) became the busiest in the UK, serving the ships that came up the Manchester Ship Canal, a waterway built in order to escape the hefty charges levied by Liverpool’s dock and rail companies. Today, The Quays is home to MediaCityUK (the largest media hub in Europe) and studios purpose-built for the BBC’s move up North in 2011.

Two major cultural institutions – Imperial War Museum North and The Lowry – also straddle the Ship Canal, connected by a pedestrian bridge. The Lowry boasts two theatre, galleries, a studio space, restaurant and shop; IWM North’s fragmented design represents a globe shattered by war (inside, it’s completely devoid of right angles) and houses a beautifully-presented permanent collection and series of changing exhibitions that consider the many ways conflict shapes society. Restaurants, bars and even high-end supermarkets (the family-run Booths) complete the offer in the area.

With good transport links to the city centre, The Quays is the sort of place where you could happily lose half a day; or some of your sanity, if you choose to complete the ‘dock to dock’ course of the Great Manchester Swim.

Discover our top picks

Theatre 26 May 2017, FREE

HUSH HUSH at The Lowry

A risk-free night of surprise theatre delivered by The Lowry’s experts.

Theatre 27 May–16 July 2017, FREE

IRIS by Marshmallow Laser Feast at The Lowry

The Lowry’s Lyric Theatre is set to be taken over by a stunning spectacle of lasers, light, sound and colour from leading creative studio Marshmallow Laser Feast. Audiences will experience IRIS – a unique digital art installation created using laser technology.

Exhibitions 27 May 2017, FREE

Quays Culture Summer Festival event – Russell Maliphant at The Quays

Quays Culture team up with UK contemporary dance leaders Russell Maliphant Company to reimagine his latest work for the outdoors. With visual design by artists Squid Soup, Salford Quays will be transformed for one night only.

Literature 6–10 June 2017, from £22.00

Trainspotting Live at The Lowry

A group of young people growing up in a world they don’t believe in – that’s the core of Trainspotting, which comes alive in this intense and immersive adaptation.

Exhibitions 1–9 July 2017, FREE

MIF17: HOME1947 at The Lowry

Two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy reflects on the experiences of people who left their homes during the Partition of British India in 1947, the largest mass migration ever witnessed, in this world premiere at The Lowry.

Exhibitions 20–29 May 2017, FREE

Unnatural Borders at MediaCityUK

This season, endangered species from land and sea migrate to the metropolis of MediaCityUK, in the form of four gigantic sculptures for Quays Culture’s Unnatural Borders exhibition.

Music 28 May 2017, from £22.50

Transformer at Victoria Warehouse

New event series Transformer pays homage to Lou Reed’s visionary approach to rock music – with the inaugural event featuring Swans, The Fall, Royal Trux, This Is Not This Heat and Suuns across two stages at Victoria Warehouse.

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