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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 20 September–20 December 2017,

Contact Autumn Season 2017

Contact’s new season builds on its position as one of Manchester’s most innovative and experimental theatre centres.

Festivals 22 September 2017–31 March 2018,

HOME Autumn/Winter Season

From revolutionary inspired art to ‘sassy’ Hip Hop Christmas cabaret, check out our guide to HOME’s Autumn/Winter Season.

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…

Exhibitions 23 June 2017–1 January 2018, from £4.00

Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War at IWM North

IWM North turns its attention to one of the most controversial figures in British art.

Festivals 22–23 July 2017, FREE

Manchester Mega Mela at Platt Fields Park

Get ready for some top performers, incredible food and arts and crafts galore in the largest South Asian festival of its kind in the north.

Music 28 July–6 August 2017, from £5.00

Manchester Jazz Festival 2017

Manchester’s longest running music festival returns in 2017 with live music every day at its Salon Perdu base in Albert Square, as well as concerts, talks and screenings in venues across the city centre. Highlights this year include The Breath, Riot Jazz, Joshua Redman Quartet and Phronesis and Engines Orchestra.

Music 4 August 2017, from £25.00

Joshua Redman: Still Dreaming at the RNCM

American jazz saxophonist and composer Joshua Redman is joined by three of the most imaginative voices in contemporary jazz to interpret music by Ornette Coleman’s band, Old and New Dreams.

Theatre 31 August–9 September 2017, from £10

Daniel Kitson: Something Other Than Everything at Royal Exchange

Daniel Kitson returns to the Royal Exchange with more sublime thoughts and silly stories.

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?

Comedy 13–14 October 2017, from £20.00 - 25.00

Hocum Pokem at Contact

Turn the camp dial past 10 with this drag reinterpretation of cult classic Hocus Pocus.

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…