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

Exhibitions 7 June–18 August 2019,

Peterloo 2019

Manchester Histories prepares to launch a major programme of over 150 events to commemorate the 200-year anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. All of the essential Peterloo events in one place.

Exhibitions 10–13 October 2019, from £5.50

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2019 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.

Music 8 July 2019, from £18

Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage 2019 Voices of Angels at The Bridgewater Hall

With a mixture of Renaissance masters and modern maestros, The Sixteen bring you a spread of sacred choral music spanning seven centuries.

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.

Hobson's Choice at the Royal Exchange
Theatre 31 May–6 July 2019, from £18.50

Hobson’s Choice at the Royal Exchange

This brilliantly fresh adaptation by award-winning writer, Tanika Gupta finds Hobson set up shop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Cinema 3–6 October 2019, from £20.00

Grimmfest at Odeon Great Northern

One of the top genre film festivals in the World, Manchester’s annual festival of horror, cult and fantastic film returns to Odeon, Great Northern this October.

Back To The Future The Musical at Manchester Opera House
Theatre 20 February–17 May 2020, from £19.95

Back To The Future The Musical at Manchester Opera House

Turn your flux capacitor on and set your destination to the Manchester Opera House in the year 2020. Your future depends on it.

Exhibitions 12–21 July 2019, FREE

Manifest Arts Festival 2019, across Greater Manchester

Manifest Arts Festival returns to the North West this summer for its third edition.

Visual Arts 20 September 2018–19 September 2019, FREE

Manchester Art Gallery Highlights Tour

Take a tour around select artworks from Manchester Art Gallery’s collection. Lead by different guides every day, each tour is personal to their taste. Tours start at 2 pm from Thursday to Sunday.

And Breathe... at Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibitions 16 March 2018–15 October 2019, FREE

And Breathe… at Manchester Art Gallery

Exploring the relationship between art and mindfulness And Breathe… is an exhibition of artworks from Manchester Art Gallery’s collection that explores the relationship between art, positive mental health and wellbeing.

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…

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