Image courtesy of Marketing Manchester

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

Schrödinger
Theatre 24–25 May 2017, from £10.00

Schrödinger at Contact

Schrödinger depicts a place where nothing is what it seems, where no one knows who has power, and where once-strong words have become dust.

Theatre 25 May–10 June 2017, from £10.00

Rose at HOME

Academy Award nominee Dame Janet Suzman stars as Rose, taking us on a journey through her life that charts the fate of Europe’s Jews through the Twentieth Century and into the Millennium.

Contact Summer Season
Theatre 16 May–30 June 2017,

Contact Summer Season 2017

While other theatres are shutting up shop Contact has launched a summer season packed with powerful theatre performances.

Music 26 May 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Concert Fantastique

Two startling contrasts in the art of inspiration: Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, a characteristically serene homage; and Berlioz’s incomparable Symphonie fantastique, an opium-fuelled wildly passionate epic.

Theatre 26 May 2017, FREE

HUSH HUSH at The Lowry

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

Exhibitions 19 May–20 August 2017, FREE

Object Lessons at Manchester Museum

Extraordinary objects from the private collection of art collector George Loudon go on display to the public for the first time in Object Lessons at Manchester Museum – a showcase of 19th century life science teaching objects that blurs the boundary between art and science.

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.

Scorch at Contact
Theatre 23–26 May 2017, from £6.00

Scorch at Contact

An important story vividly told, Scorch is one of the most impressive pieces of theatre you’ll see this year.

Festivals 29 June–16 July 2017, from £12.00

Manchester International Festival 2017

Manchester International Festival, the world’s first festival of original work and special events, returns in 2017 under new Artistic Director 2017. Here’s our guide to the unique programme, taking place across Manchester.

Exhibitions 25 February–3 September 2017, FREE

Never Going Underground at People’s History Museum

January 1967: it’s illegal for men to have sex together, lesbianism is seen as a medical misfortune, and trans rights are non-existent. 50 years later, LGBT+ legal protection and equality is almost UK-wide. This exhibition charts the activist struggle to get where we are today.

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