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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

Cinema 31 March–17 April 2017, from £5.00

¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival at HOME: Film Programme

HOME’s annual celebration of the best in new Spanish and Latin American filmmaking returns with an exciting line-up of UK premieres, one off events and filmmaker Q&As.

Music 24 March–1 April 2017, from £21.00

RNCM Opera: Theodora

Theodora was Handel’s penultimate oratorio and is widely recognised as one of his great masterpieces. This rarely staged dramatic work contains some of Handel’s most beautiful arias, and promises to be a profoundly moving theatrical experience.

Dance 1 April 2017, from £10.00

Sol Pico presents One-Hit Wonders at HOME

Sol Picó’s latest show One-Hit Wonders throws together fragments of the Catalan choreographer’s most famous works, for evening that is sexy, absurd and full of fun

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.

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…

Music 1 April 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: West meets East

American conductor James Feddeck begins with two deeply evocative works from across the Atlantic.

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

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…