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Things to Do in Manchester

Creative Tourist

It was Manchester that gave rise to socialism, the British Labour Party and the Suffragettes. Wildly ambitious, Manchester was the original industrial city, once the largest centre of manufacturing in the world. This is not the kind of past that a city forgets. Go into its museums and you’ll find the evidence: their collections are among the best in Britain. But before you write this off as just history, think on.

Manchester is steadily reinventing districts that were once busy with industrial factories and warehouses; the red-bricked buildings of the Northern Quarter and Ancoats are now taken up with independent shops, bars, and restaurants. The city boasts two universities along Oxford Road, as well as the award-winning Whitworth and Manchester Museum – with cross-arts space HOME a short stroll away on Tony Wilson Place.

There’s the Royal Exchange in the centre, the UK’s biggest theatre in-the-round, housed in what was once the largest single room in the world. Not forgetting MediaCity UK, which shares The Quays with major arts organisations IWM North and The Lowry and is home to BBC North and ITV. So while this is a city with a past, Manchester has its eyes on the future. The joy of visiting today is that, without too much effort, you get to experience a slice of both.

Discover our top picks

Theatre 14 September–14 October 2017, from £10.00

Our Town at the Royal Exchange

Thornton Wilder’s play about everyday life is far from ordinary, and captures something eternal and cosmic.

Music 4 October–11 December 2017, FREE

RNCM Autumn Season

Featuring a legendary chanteuse, an exploration of science in music, a bombastic orchestra recital and a classic film with musical accompaniment, the RNCM’s Autumn Season is action-packed and offers something for everyone. Read on for our top picks.

Festivals 25–29 October 2017, from £10.00

Gothic Manchester Festival 2017

Gothic Manchester Festival is back in style this October. Goths, steampunks and assorted ‘weirdo mosher freaks’ can let their hair down with a series of film screenings, literary events and the annual conference.

Theatre 22 September–7 October 2017, from £10

People, Places and Things at HOME

Emma is an actor trying to overcome addiction, but what else can help her cope with life’s problems?

Sports 20–23 September 2017, from £10:00 - 15.00

We’re Not Really Here – A Football Opera at Contact

The excitement of a goalmouth scramble and the pressure of a penalty shootout are put under the spotlight in this new theatre show about football fandom.

Music 24 September 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Mahler – Symphony No. 3 at The Bridgewater Hall

Juanjo Mena will be joined by a vast ensemble of musicians and singers for Mahler’s Symphony No.3, as he begins his final season as the BBC Philharmonic’s Chief Conductor.

Exhibitions 14 September–12 November 2017, FREE

Katab: Quilting Stories from India at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

An exhibition that looks likely to challenge perceptions of ‘traditional craft’ in the world of today, while deepening our understanding of an old form of Indian quilting and the women behind it.

Dance 28–30 September 2017, from £12.50

Rambert – Ghost Dances Plus Other Works at The Lowry

Spirits of the dead take over the stage in an electrifying dance piece at the centre of this unmissable triple bill at The Lowry.

Music 25 September 2017, from £45.00

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Manchester Arena

One of the most critically acclaimed acts in the world, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds stop off at Manchester Arena as part of their eight-week-long European tour – promoting their 16th studio album, Skeleton Tree.

Exhibitions 10 June–24 September 2017, FREE

Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 – Unseen photographs by Clive Arrowsmith at The Lowry

What can we tell of a man from his kitchen sink or old-fashioned cooker? A great deal it would seem judging by a new exhibition of rare, previously unseen photographs at The Lowry…

Manchester District Guides

Photo of a handwritten label in a cafe that says "Ring for service with a smile"

Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester

Burton Road is the heart of West Didsbury, a beautifully maintained leafy hubbub of shops,…

Beech Road Chorlton, Manchester

It may not quite have the reputation of Benefits Street, but Beech Road in Chorlton…

The front of Didsbury restaurant Volta.

Didsbury, Manchester

Follow Oxford Road South through the Curry Mile, along Wilmslow Road, past Platt Fields Park…

Chorlton, Manchester

This left-leaning suburb a few miles south of Manchester’s city centre (and only ten minutes…

Cheetham Hill, Manchester

As an area, Cheetham Hill gets a pretty bad rep. The foreboding architecture of Strangeways…

Places to go / stay / shop / eat / drink