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

Families 19 October–5 November 2017, from £6

Big Imaginations Festival

This autumn, Big Imaginations will celebrate and showcase the highest quality theatre for children and families in over 26 venues across the North West.

Exhibitions 29 September 2017–3 June 2018, FREE

New North & South: South Asia art and culture programme 2017–18 across Manchester

A major programme of exhibitions and events reflecting on the shared heritage and historic connections between South Asia and the North of England opens across the city.

Music 21 October 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Stravinsky | Sibelius | Beethoven at The Bridgewater Hall

The first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth herald the start of one of the greatest symphonies ever written…..Conductor Nicholas Collon and Violinist James Ehnes join the orchestra for an evening not to be missed.

Families 21–31 October 2017, FREE

Halloween in the City

Creepy capers across Manchester City Centre for little and big ghosts with the most.

Exhibitions 30 September 2017–4 February 2018, FREE

Hetain Patel at Manchester Art Gallery

International artist Hetain Patel explores issues of identity, gender, race and class with one big Spidey leap.

Music 24 September 2017–9 June 2018,

BBC Philharmonic 2017/18 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 October 2017, from £13.50

The Hallé: Beyond the Score at The Bridgewater Hall

This part-dramatisation, part-performance takes the audience back to Russia in 1936 to tell the shocking story behind Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony. Beyond the Score features multimedia performance and film, as well as Sir Mark Elder conducting the Hallé through this famous orchestra piece.

Exhibitions 22 September–5 November 2017, FREE

AND A 123 at Castlefield Gallery

Castlefield Gallery’s new group show invites us to take a minty-fresh look at the world around us.

Exhibitions 14 September–12 November 2017, FREE

Katab: Quilting Stories from India at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

An exhibition that looks likely to challenge perceptions of ‘traditional craft’ in the world of today, while deepening our understanding of an old form of Indian quilting and the women behind it.

Social 11 November 2017, FREE

Rapha Cross Prestige at Rapha Clubhouse

Rapha Cross Prestige is teams of four, cyclocross ride into the Peak District, starting from the Rapha Manchester Clubhouse. It’s an all-day adventure across stunning terrain.

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…

Things to do right now

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Exhibitions 30 September 2017–4 February 2018, FREE

Hetain Patel at Manchester Art Gallery

Families 7 October 2017–2 January 2018, from £21.25

Dinosaurs in the Wild at EventCity

Music 24 September 2017–9 June 2018,

BBC Philharmonic 2017/18 Concert Season

Dance 14 September–1 November 2017,

The Lowry Autumn Season 2017

Music 4 October–11 December 2017, FREE

RNCM Autumn Season

Exhibitions 22 September–5 November 2017, FREE

AND A 123 at Castlefield Gallery

Theatre 20 September–20 December 2017,

Contact Autumn Season 2017

Festivals 22 September 2017–31 March 2018,

HOME Autumn/Winter Season

Music 9 September 2017–31 May 2018, from £15.00

Manchester Camerata 2017/18 Season

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

Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War at IWM North

Exhibitions 24 June–1 November 2017, FREE

Raqib Shaw at the Whitworth