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

Festivals 7–10 September 2017,

Rapha Rides Manchester

Whether you’re a cycling fanatic with rock-hard quadriceps, or don’t even own a bike (let alone dare mount a Mobike), Rapha Rides Manchester will have something for you.

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.

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.

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.

Theatre 31 August–9 September 2017, from £10

Daniel Kitson: Something Other Than Everything at Royal Exchange

Daniel Kitson returns to the Royal Exchange with more sublime thoughts and silly stories.

Families 9 September 2017,

Ride with Sir Brad at Rapha Clubhouse Manchester

Meet five-time Olympic cycling champion Sir Bradley Wiggins and join him and his family for a 50km morning cycle out of the city.

Exhibitions 7–10 September 2017, FREE

Exhibitions, displays, yoga and… ‘Zwift’ at Rapha Clubhouse Manchester

Throughout Rapha Rides Manchester, the beautiful gallery space and café at the Rapha Clubhouse will host a variety of special events, displays and activities, with plenty to get involved in.

Festivals 8 September 2017,

Photography Workshop & Golden Hour Ride with Leica at Rapha Clubhouse Manchester

Rapha has teamed up with the iconic camera brand, Leica, to offer a free workshop in how to make the most of that legendary ‘Golden Hour’.

Festivals 9 September 2017,

Unseen City Ride with Brompton at Rapha Clubhouse Manchester

An invitation to discover the city anew, from the seat of a Brompton (or your) bike.

Cinema 8 September 2017, FREE

Rapha Rides Manchester Film Screening and Opening Party at Rapha Clubhouse Manchester

Catch an exclusive film screening about the Manchester’s special connection with cycling, starring three local legends.

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…