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

Classical Music 19 September 2019–30 May 2020,

The Hallé 2019-20 Season

From a brilliant range of symphonies, concertos, vocal works, operas and more, we select our five top picks from the Hallé’s 2019-20 season.

Music 21 September 2019, from £5.50

BBC Philharmonic: Prokofiev/Coates/Walton at The Bridgewater Hall

Opening the BBC Philharmonic’s 2019-20 season, conductor John Wilson pairs light with darkness, sugar with spice, in an eclectic and thrilling programme.

Manchester Art Fair 2018
Exhibitions 11–13 October 2019, from £5

Manchester Art Fair 2019 at Manchester Central

A firm favourite in Manchester’s cultural calendar, the Manchester Art Fair and The Manchester Contemporary weekend is not to be missed. Tickets are free for Creative Tourist readers.

Summer Season of fun at the Museum of Science and Industry
Exhibitions 20 July–1 September 2019, FREE

Summer Season of Fun at the Science and Industry Museum

Head to the Science and Industry Museum this summer for daily family shows, fun activities and events, whatever the weather.

Simon Shaw Supper Club at Manchester Art Gallery
Food and Drink 7 September 2019, from £65

Simon Shaw Supper Club at Manchester Art Gallery

Join acclaimed multi-award winning Chef Patron of El Gato Negro, Simon Shaw, at Manchester Art Gallery for a one-off, immersive dining experience.

Unearthing passion and protest at Manchester Central Library
Activity 6 July–29 September 2019, FREE

Unearthing Passion and Protest Exhibition at Manchester Central Library

Join Grace Surman and Gary Winters alongside their two young children Hope and Merrick at Central Library as they explore the themes of their newly commissioned films based at Dunham Massey and Quarry Bank.

Manchester's Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
Exhibitions 10–13 October 2019, from £5.50

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2019 at Upper Campfield Market

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair is back for its 12th edition, featuring a handpicked selection of over 160 designer-makers from across the UK.

West Side Story at the Royal Exchange
Theatre 18 April–23 May 2020, from £10.00

West Side Story at the Royal Exchange

Powerful and fast-paced and heart-breaking, we’re thrilled to hear that West Side Story will return to the Royal Exchange next spring.

Music 21 November 2019, from £5.50

BBC Philharmonic – Aho/Tarkiainen/Shostakovich at The Bridgewater Hall

Featuring Kalevi Aho’s hair-raising Theremin Concerto, the BBC Philharmonic presents a delightfully off-kilter programme at The Bridgewater Hall.

Music 9 November 2019, from £5.50

BBC Philharmonic: Wagner/Bruckner at The Bridgewater Hall

From Bruckner at his most grandiose to Wagner at his most delicate, this BBC Philharmonic programme promises to delight at The Bridgewater Hall.

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

Chorlton is a left-leaning suburb a few miles south of Manchester’s city centre (and only…

Cheetham Hill, Manchester

As an area, Cheetham Hill gets a pretty bad rep. The foreboding architecture of Strangeways…