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

Theatre 4–18 March 2017, from £10.00

City of Glass at HOME

This multi-layered meta show from 59 Productions has as many thrills as any good detective tome, only with added weirdness as fractured central character Dan Quinn loses the plot – quite literally.

Theatre 24–25 February 2017, from £5.00

Dance: Sampled at The Lowry

Dance: Sampled is a weekend of amazing acrobatics, sensual strutting and challenging ballet, with taster sessions from the world’s top contemporary dance companies – not to mention a packed programme of workshops and pop-up performances.

Theatre 8–25 March 2017,

SICK! Festival

SICK! Festival makes just the kind of art we like: challenging, entertaining and always aimed at changing the world for the better.

Exhibitions 2–12 March 2017, FREE

Wonder Women 2017

Manchester’s feminist festival returns 2-12 March, with all-female DJ line-ups, queer punk documentary screenings, speed mate-ing and much more.

Theatre 22–23 February 2017, from £12.00

Good Dog at The Lowry

Unseen women, unwanted old men and unappreciated teenagers are all part of Good Dog’s scalpel-sharp story, written by celebrated actor and playwright Arinzé Kene.

Cinema 5–19 March 2017, from £5.00

Paul Auster: Man of Cinema at HOME

Paul Auster has a long association with cinema, as source material, screenwriter and also as a film director in his own right. This March, Home presents an Auster-inspired film season with titles chosen by the novelist himself.

Exhibitions 24 February–15 April 2017, FREE

…in Dark Times at Castlefield Gallery

An exhibition on the thingness of things in the age of the thingless medium. Confused? Read on…

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.

Exhibitions 16 November 2016–1 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.

Exhibitions 16 February–20 May 2017, FREE

Modern Twist at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Manchester Craft & Design Centre’s 2016 MMU Graduate Award winner Joshua Till puts a contemporary twist on a traditional craft with his nature-inspired steam bent furniture.

Manchester District Guides

The front of Didsbury restaurant Volta.

Didsbury, Manchester

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

Salford museum and art gallery exterior

Salford, Greater Manchester

Cross over the River Irwell, and you’ll find yourself in another city entirely – Salford….

Beech Road Chorlton, Manchester

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

The Quays, Greater Manchester

The Quays is an area that’s gone from busy industrial dock to 21st century cultural…

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,…

Chinatown, Manchester

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