Manchester MM WIDE
Image courtesy of Marketing Manchester

Things to Do in Manchester

Creative Tourist

Benjamin Disraeli argued that “what Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow,” while writer and DJ Stuart Maconie reckons, “Manchester has fancied itself rotten for as long as anyone can remember”. The thing is, Manchester fancies itself for a reason.

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 has fancied itself rotten for as long as anyone can remember”

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, restaurants and businesses. The city boasts two universities along its Oxford Road Corridor (also, incidentally, the busiest bus route in Europe), as well as the award-winning Whitworth, a stunning gallery amid the trees.

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

Members of Public Service Broadcasting in space
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Science Festival 2016

Manchester Science Festival returns with its innovative combination of science, technology, music, art, literature, fashion, food and more. The programme for this, the festival’s tenth year, is bigger and better than ever, featuring the science of gin and gambling, a sleep lab in the Arndale, a Harry Potter-inspired tea and, of course, a very special birthday party.

Hair at Hope Mill
Theatre 12 November 2016–3 December 2016, from £18.00

Hair the musical at Hope Mill Theatre

Hair deals with difficult issues – drug use, sexual revolution and political protest – but is packed full of proper pop songs, and should be another singalong success for Hope Mill Theatre.

Families 24 October 2016, from £12.00

The Philosopher’s Scone: magic tricks at Harvey Nicks

Enter the world of Harry Potter and experience a family afternoon tea like with Roger Highfield, author of The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works followed by a screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Photograph of poet and scientist Rachel McCarthy holding a mug showing the periodic table of elements.
Literature 27 October 2016, from £5.00

Elements: Poetry in molecular motion

Award-winning poet and meteorologist Rachel McCarthy performs works from her Carol Ann Duffy-lauded debut collection, Element.

Idris Khan
Exhibitions 14 October 2016–19 March 2017, FREE

Idris Khan at the Whitworth

Idris Khan’s artworks are that rare thing: both visually and conceptually fascinating. A number of Khan’s seminal pieces will be on show at this new solo exhibition at the Whitworth, showcasing the artist’s preoccupation with representing time over duration within a single instance.

Literature 4 November 2016, from £35.00

National Creative Writing Graduate Fair

Are you a creative writer with aspirations to be published? Come and pitch your ideas to literary agents; learn about the writing life through panels, workshops and networking opportunities, and hear a keynote speech from author Kit de Waal.

Taken with iPhone 6 (GSM+CDMA),iOS 9.1
Exhibitions 29 October 2016–26 February 2017, FREE

Perpetual Movement at The Lowry

A candle infused with 23 unique scents from space – including ‘burnt gunpowder’ for the moon and an ‘old penny’ for Mars – will be burnt at the finale of this major new exhibition at The Lowry. Part of a nationwide programme marking the Rambert dance company’s 90th anniversary, Perpetual Movement brings together work by international artists with objects, footage and costumes from the Rambert archives.

Ghosts at HOME
Theatre 18 November 2016–3 December 2016, from £10.00

Ghosts at HOME

Sex, scandal and syphilis – as you might well imagine, not everyone approved of this play when it was first performed in 1880, but Ibsens classic is just as powerful as it ever was.

Exhibitions 29 October 2016–8 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.

The Peony Pavilion at The Lowry
Dance 22 November 2016–26 November 2016, from £15.00

The Peony Pavilion at The Lowry

National Ballet of China are one of the world’s biggest and best ballet companies, and their adaptation of The Peony Pavilion is even more romantic than Romeo and Juliet. For those seeking a second dose of ballet to follow up on the superb Giselle – look no further.

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…

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Members of Public Service Broadcasting in space
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

Manchester Science Festival 2016

Idris Khan
Exhibitions 14 October 2016–19 March 2017, FREE

Idris Khan at the Whitworth

Humanities in Public Festival
Exhibitions 7 October 2016–24 June 2017,

Humanities in Public Festival

Design City Film Season
Cinema 12 October 2016–23 October 2016, from £7.00

Design City Film Season

Wonder Materials Graphene & Beyond. An exhibition about Graphene at the Museum of Science and Industry

Picture: Jason Lock

Further info: Kate Campbell-Payne
Communications Officer
Tel: 0161 606 0213

Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press release use only, no further reproduction without prior permission.

Picture © Jason Lock Photography
+44 (0) 7889 152747
+44 (0) 161 431 4012
Exhibitions 23 July 2016–25 June 2017, FREE

Wonder Materials: Graphene and Beyond

Theatre 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, from £2.00

Women in Comedy Festival

HAND 01.1_1
Exhibitions 8 September 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

HAND CRAFT at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Snowdrift by Edward Onslow Ford
Exhibitions 10 June 2016–31 October 2016, FREE

Elizabeth Price Curates at The Whitworth

Literature - vivienne westwood cover shot
Literature 7 October 2016–23 October 2016, from £5

Manchester Literature Festival 2016

Michael Rosen - Image courtesy of Z-Arts
Families 17 September 2016–17 December 2016, from £7.00

Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things at Z-arts

mancehster gothic fesitval 2016 image by mmu
Exhibitions 20 October 2016–23 October 2016, from £10

Gothic Manchester Festival