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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

La Vie Parisienne
Music 07–17 December 2016 , from £21.00

La Vie Parisienne

Set in 1930s Paris, where cosmopolitan gaiety has reached new heights of frivolity, Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne is a brilliant tangled tale of flirtatious masquerading and romantic intrigue.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Theatre 21 January–04 February 2017 , from £18.00

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time @ The Lowry

Personally I’m not a massive fan of big stage blockbuster productions, but I will make an exception for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is one of the stage shows I have ever seen.

BBC Philharmonic: Bruckner, Berg and Barenboim
Music 10 December 2016, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Bruckner, Berg and Barenboim

Alban Berg dedicated his Violin Concerto ‘to the memory of an angel’, a young woman who died aged 18 just weeks before he started writing it.

rachel-maclean-we-want-data-dye-sublimation-fabric-print-series-2-1-x-3-m-commissioned-by-artpace-and-home-1
Exhibitions 29 October 2016–08 January 2017 , FREE

Rachel Maclean: Wot u :-) about? exhibition at HOME

A major solo exhibition of entirely new work by acclaimed Scottish artist Rachel Maclean, who will represent Scotland at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

Little Angel Theatre Company.
Families 14–30 December 2016 , from £6.00

WOW! Said the Owl at HOME

A perfect first theatre show for curious little owls this Christmas.

Hand holding a tiny stethoscope
Exhibitions 18 November 2016–22 January 2017 , FREE

Miniature World at Castlefield Gallery

Filled with objects on a small-scale, Castlefield Gallery’s latest exhibition asks some big questions about life.

ARTIST ROOMS: Andy Warhol
Exhibitions 19 November 2016–16 April 2017 , FREE

Artist Rooms: Andy Warhol at the Whitworth

If you’ve seen one exhibition about Andy Warhol, you’ve seen a thousand… Not so with ARTIST ROOMS: Andy Warhol at the Whitworth, which brings the master of repetition’s work into an entirely new context.

Yule be Sorry – A Christmas Cabaret
Theatre 16 December 2016, from £15.00

Yule be Sorry – A Christmas Cabaret at HOME

Yule be Sorry is a show of serious Santa substance – an excellent alternative xmas night out. Hosted by living performing art legend David Hoyle, this is a night of comedy and cabaret chased down with a good glug of mega-strength mulled wine.

Sweet Charity
Theatre 03 December 2016–28 January 2017 , from £16.50

Sweet Charity at Royal Exchange Theatre

From the same creative team behind the hilarious Little Shop of Horrors comes this high-kicking cocktail-drinking entertainment extravaganza that distils the glitz and glamour of 60s New York and delivers it to the stage.

After The Bees
Exhibitions 16 November 2016–01 July 2017 , FREE

After The Bees at Manchester Museum

This exhibition explores the haunting consequences of a world without bees through a series of photographs and artworks.

Manchester District Guides

China Town visit britain WIDE

Chinatown, Manchester

Wedged between Mosley and Portland Streets, Manchester’s Chinatown a riot of colour and flavour; restaurants…

Ancoats Guide (3)

Ancoats, Manchester

Layer upon layer of history makes Ancoats, an Area of Conservation since 1998, really special….

Canal Street Visit Britain WIDE

Canal Street, Manchester

Manchester’s picturesque Canal Street and its surroundings constitute what is reputedly the oldest gay village…

Castlefield Manchester MM WIDE

Castlefield, Manchester

The Roman General Julius Agricola founded ‘Mamucium’ in 79AD; the name means ‘breast shaped hill’,…

Islington Mill 2

Chapel Street, Salford

Chapel Street is Salford’s historic heart: laid back, spread out and under the radar. Running…

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