Exchange Square Manchester WIDE
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

BBC Philharmonic: Bruckner, Berg and Barenboim
Music 10 December 2016, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Bruckner, Berg and Barenboim

Alban Berg dedicated his Violin Concerto ‘to the memory of an angel’, a young woman who died aged 18 just weeks before he started writing it.

Little Angel Theatre Company.
Families 14–30 December 2016 , from £6.00

WOW! Said the Owl at HOME

A perfect first theatre show for curious little owls this Christmas.

Sweet Charity
Theatre 03 December 2016–28 January 2017 , from £16.50

Sweet Charity at Royal Exchange Theatre

From the same creative team behind the hilarious Little Shop of Horrors comes this high-kicking cocktail-drinking entertainment extravaganza that distils the glitz and glamour of 60s New York and delivers it to the stage.

Exhibitions 24 November–21 December 2016 , FREE

Tim Isherwood: Please Use The Intercom

An exhibition of artwork by Tim Isherwood that explores the enviroment and content of The Portico Library, with collaberative works produced in conjunction with Jennifer Beefheart and John Powell Jones.

Photo of the exhibition installation
Exhibitions 08 September 2016–05 March 2017 , FREE

Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground at The John Rylands Library

Jeff Nuttall (1933-2004) was a major figure in the worldwide network of avant-garde literature and art in the 1960s and 1970s.

Beth Orton with female musicians
Exhibitions 02–12 March 2017 , FREE

Wonder Women 2017

Manchester’s feminist festival highlighting the feminist journey, via 10 days of events, debate, music, art, gigs, profiles and more.

BBC Philharmonic: Lovers and Rogues
Music 21 January 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Lovers and Rogues

Gramophone wrote that when superb young Spanish pianist Javier Perianes plays Grieg’s ever-fresh Piano Concerto, as he does tonight, ‘you may well find yourself falling in love and in awe all over again’

BBC Philharmonic: New Perspectives
Music 13 January 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: New Perspectives

When Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm in the First World War, he asked Ravel to write him a piece he could play with his left hand alone. The remarkable result will be played tonight by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.

BBC Philharmonic: Transfigured Night
Music 4 March 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Transfigured Night

A graduate of the revolutionary El Sistema in Venezuela, Rafael Payare brings two great stories of love, anguish and redemption from the decadent, heady world of late 19th-century Vienna.

BBC Philharmonic: From Leipzig to Finland
Music 19 February 2017, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: From Leipzig to Finland

Mendelssohn’s magnificent Violin Concerto is the epitome of musical Romanticism – and with rising-star virtuoso Alina Pogostkina joining the orchestra tonight, it’s in excellent hands.

Manchester District Guides

Ancoats Guide (3)

Ancoats, Manchester

Layer upon layer of history makes Ancoats, an Area of Conservation since 1998, really special….

Canal Street Visit Britain WIDE

Canal Street, Manchester

Manchester’s picturesque Canal Street and its surroundings constitute what is reputedly the oldest gay village…

Castlefield Manchester MM WIDE

Castlefield, Manchester

The Roman General Julius Agricola founded ‘Mamucium’ in 79AD; the name means ‘breast shaped hill’,…

Islington Mill 2

Chapel Street, Salford

Chapel Street is Salford’s historic heart: laid back, spread out and under the radar. Running…

Oast House Spinningfields Manchester MM WIDE

Spinningfields, Manchester

Spinningfields is Manchester’s realm of glass and steel, where global corporations have their headquarters. It’s…

A coffee stand at Levenshulme Market

Levenshulme, Manchester

Located halfway between Manchester and Stockport, for many people Levenshulme is just another place their…

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