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

URWOTUEAT, 2017 – John Powell Jones. Part of SUBI 수비 at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
Exhibitions 14 September–4 November 2018, FREE

SUBI 수비 at Castlefield Gallery

‘SUBI 수비’ at Castlefield Gallery explores the long process of cultural and generational exchange that underpins the art of pottery and ceramics – one of the world’s oldest crafts – as an integral part of the way that humans create and communicate the world in which we live.

Manchester's Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
Exhibitions 11–14 October 2018, from £5.50

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2018 at Upper Campfield Market

For anyone with even a passing interest in the beauty of the handmade or artful design, the annual award-winning Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (GNCCF) in Manchester is the place to head this October.

Families 20 October 2018, FREE

Dashehra Diwali Mela 2018 in Albert Square

Light up your Saturday with incredible music, dance and a showstopping finale of sound and light in this spectacular free celebration of the Hindu festivals of Dashehra and Diwali.

The Greatest Play in the History of the World
Theatre 20–29 September 2018, from £13.00

The Greatest Play In The History Of The World at Royal Exchange

Winner of The Stage Edinburgh Award, this one-woman show starring Julie Hesmondhalgh returns to Manchester’s Royal Exchange following its sold-out run last season.

Music 11 October 2018, from £14

The Hallé – Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass at The Bridgewater Hall

‘The Glagolitic Mass’ by Leoš Janáček is one of the twentieth century’s finest choral works. Conducted by Edward Gardner and played alongside ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ by Richard Strauss’, this will be a wonderful concert.

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’.

Poet Zaffar Kunial.
Literature 6–21 October 2018, from £5

Manchester Literature Festival 2018

Manchester Literature Festival presents inspiring live literature and spoken word from international writers and home-grown talent. MLF18 runs from 6 to 21 October at venues around the city, presenting 80-odd events including brand-new special commissions.

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.

Exhibitions 23 February 2018–6 January 2019, FREE

Annie Swynnerton: Painting Light and Hope at Manchester Art Gallery

The first major retrospective of work by the radical Manchester artist and feminist campaigner, Annie Swynnerton, opens in nearly 100 years at Manchester Art Gallery.

Music 6 July 2018–31 December 2019, from £6

The Stoller Hall Autumn/Winter season

Manchester’s newest concert hall continues to push boundaries with its upcoming Autumn/Winter season – from a brand new audiovisual work to celebrate 100 years of votes for women to a one-off staging of a dark adaptation of A Christmas Carol, via a visit by the world-renowned Gould Trio and a year-long series celebrating outstanding pianists who studied at Chetham’s.

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

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…

Things to do right now

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Queen Margaret at the Royal Exchange
Theatre 14 September–6 October 2018, from £9.00

Queen Margaret at the Royal Exchange

othellomacbeth at HOME
Theatre 13–29 September 2018, from £10.00

OthelloMacbeth at HOME

URWOTUEAT, 2017 – John Powell Jones. Part of SUBI 수비 at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
Exhibitions 14 September–4 November 2018, FREE

SUBI 수비 at Castlefield Gallery

The Royal Exchange Autumn Winter SeasonThe Royal Exchange Autumn Winter Season
Theatre 21 September 2018–12 January 2019,

The Royal Exchange Autumn / Winter Season

Cinema 11–30 September 2018, from £7

Not Just Bollywood 2018 at HOME

Poppy, Esme, Oleanna, Gracie and Kate, 2014. Personal Feeling is the main thing - Chantal Joffe at The Lowry, Salford
Exhibitions 19 May 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Salford Royal Academy Takeover

陈秋林 Chen Qiulin 空的城 The Empty City 数码艺术微喷印刷. Part of Aquatopia at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Manchester
Exhibitions 6 July–7 October 2018, FREE

Aquatopia at CFCCA

Families 5 May–28 October 2018, from £Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Journeys of the Imagination at Quarry Bank