Exchange Square Manchester

City Centre, Manchester

Creative Tourist

Visit Manchester Town Hall in the city centre and you’ll spot bees picked out in the mosaics across the lobby floor – once seen, you’ll notice them everywhere. The bee is used as a symbol of Manchester’s industriousness and teamwork, and it appears on benches, council flower pots and even bins across the city. The Town Hall itself was designed by Alfred Waterhouse (also behind the Natural History Museum in London) and is often used in place of the Houses of Parliament when filming. The city centre is, then, a district filled with many incredible buildings, from The Royal Exchange, a former trading hall and once the largest single room in the world, to The Bridgewater Hall, built in 1996 for £46m so that, incredibly, all 22,000 tons of it float on nearly three hundred earthquake bearings, or giant springs.

The city centre is perhaps Manchester’s most diverse area culturally, taking in Chinatown, the Gay Village (area of political importance for the LGBT community; its bars and clubs are legendary) and behemoths of the arts such as The Portico Library and Manchester Art Gallery, whilst not turning up its nose to the high street attractions of Market Street and the Arndale Centre.King Street is dotted with designer stores, but also has a foodie draw, including El Gato Negro’s superb tapas. St Ann’s Square is a quiet little enclave of shops, with Barton’s Arcade set back from it on one side, and St Ann’s Church, which dates back to 1712 and has a 54 stop organ. Albert Square is in front of the Town Hall, a cobbled space that plays host to the Manchester Christmas Markets and festival of premieres Manchester International Festival.

A top tip – don’t miss Manchester’s talking statues; Prunella Scales is Queen Victoria in Piccadilly Gardens, Russel Tovey is Alan Turing in Sackville Gardens, and Tom Conti plays the President in Lincoln Square.

Discover our top picks

Mother Courage and her Children at the Royal Exchange
Theatre 8 February–2 March 2019, from £10.00

Mother Courage and her Children at the Royal Exchange

A sharp new adaptation of Brecht’s classic – Mother Courage and her Children – written by Anna Jordan and headed up by Julie Hesmondhalgh in the title role.

Chinternet Ugly at Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art
Exhibitions 8 February–12 May 2019, FREE

Chinternet Ugly at Centre for ChineseContemporary Art

CFCCA presents Chinternet Ugly – a group exhibition that offers a rare glimpse behind the biggest digital boundary in the world: the Great Firewall of China.

Music 16 February 2019, from £12.5

Berlioz – Beatrice et Benedict at The Bridgewater Hall

As merry as the day is long, Hector Berlioz’s captivating comic opera is one of the most joyful operatic translations of Shakespeare from page to stage. Béatrice et Bénédict slims down the plot of Much Ado About Nothing to focus on the will-they-won’t they romance between the title characters, whose attraction to each other is the living, breathing antithesis of love at first sight.

Ludovic Morlot – like Berlioz, a Frenchman – is tonight’s conductor.

Music 11 October 2018–22 May 2019,

The Hallé 2018-19 Season

We look forward to a truly exciting season of concerts from the Hallé, whose 2018-19 is filled with music that pinpoints vital moments in our cultural history, from Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ to Janáček’s ‘The Glagolitic Mass’.

Barber Shop Chronicles at the Royal Exchange (Contact in the City Part 3)
Theatre 7–23 March 2019, from £18.50

Barber Shop Chronicles at the Royal Exchange

Following two sold-out runs at the National Theatre, acclaimed performances in Leeds, Inua Ellams’ Barber Shop Chronicles comes to Manchester this Spring.

Cinema 3–6 October 2019, from £20.00

Grimmfest at Odeon Great Northern

One of the top genre film festivals in the World, Manchester’s annual festival of horror, cult and fantastic film returns to Odeon, Great Northern this October.

bbc philharmonic 2018 2019 season at the bridgewater hall manchester
Music 29 September 2018–15 June 2019,

BBC Philharmonic 2018/19 Concert Season

Millions of listeners enjoy BBC Philharmonic concerts on Radio 3, recorded or broadcast live from the outstanding acoustic of The Bridgewater Hall, making this orchestra one of the most widely heard in the country.

Music 28 February 2019, from £14

The Hallé – Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony at The Bridgewater Hall

The Hallé is joined by conductor Jamie Phillips for Mozart’s ‘Paris’ Symphony, John Casken’s ‘Madonna of Silence’, and the centrepiece of the evening, Prokofiev’s ‘Fifth Symphony’.

Music 16–22 May 2019, from £14

The Hallé – Symphonie fantastique at The Bridgewater Hall

Sir Mark Elder brings the 2018–19 Opus One Series to a triumphant close with Berlioz’ best-known work, ‘Symphonie fantastique’. Also in the programme is the brilliantly virtuosic overture to Smetana’s ‘The Bartered Bride’, as well as Dvorák’s beautiful ‘Violin Concerto’.

The Animals and Children took to the Streets at HOME
Theatre 6–16 February 2019, from £18.00

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets at HOME

In The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, 1927 takes their audience on a theatrical journey of startling originality.

Manchester District Guides

Medieval Quarter, Manchester

The Medieval Quarter, or Cathedral Quarter as it is sometimes known, is one of the oldest parts of Manchester and home to some historic gems and cultural must-sees.  

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

A laid-back mix of gift shops, independent outfitters, restaurants, pubs and parks, on a sunny weekend afternoon it’s heaving.

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…