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

Theatre 7–30 December 2017, from £6.50

Red Riding Hood and The Wolf at HOME

Hold. The. Front. Page. The Wolf is good? Experience a retelling of Red Riding Hood like no other which celebrates little independent and creative spirits everywhere.

Exhibitions 29 September 2017–3 June 2018, FREE

New North & South: South Asia art and culture programme 2017–18 across Manchester

A major programme of exhibitions and events reflecting on the shared heritage and historic connections between South Asia and the North of England opens across the city.

Theatre 2 December 2017–3 February 2018, from £22.00

Guys and Dolls at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Michael Buffong’s new version of this Broadway classic, co-produced by Manchester’s Royal Exchange and Talawa theatre company, swings us into the heart of the Harlem Renaissance.

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.

Families 22–23 December 2017, from £16.00

The Hallé – The Snowman at The Bridgewater Hall

The golden ticket of all “Snowman” experiences and one of the best introductions to live orchestral music for big and little kids alike.

Music 12 January 2018, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Smetana | Saint-Saëns | Berlioz | Janáček at The Bridgewater Hall

Leading British conductor Edward Gardner is your guide for a joyous European tour to lift the January gloom featuring Smetana’s effervescent overture The Bartered Bride and Janácek’s heart-on-sleeve love letter to his hometown of Brno.

Music 27 January 2018, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic Elgar | Rachmaninov | Sibelius at The Bridgewater Hall

Pianist Kathryn Stott – a resident of Manchester and a longstanding friend of the BBC Philharmonic – performs Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 1 under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis.

Music 10 February 2018, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Schuller | Ives | Gershwin | George Walker | Antheil at The Bridgewater Hall

In 1996 George Walker became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music – and tonight Joshua Ellicott joins the orchestra for the long-overdue UK premiere of the work that won the award: Lilacs.

Music 3 March 2018, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Anna Clyne | Mozart | Mahler at The Bridgewater Hall

Ben Gernon’s first Bridgewater Hall concert as the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor is marked by a pair of firsts – the UK premiere of Anna Clyne’s intensely atmospheric nocturnal miniature, and Mahler’s debut symphony.

Music 24 March 2018, from £12.00

BBC Philharmonic: Copland | Korngold | Vaughan Williams

John Wilson is our translator for two journeys into the great wide open: Copland’s Appalachian Spring paints a vivid portrait of rural Pennsylvania, while Vaughan Williams’s wartime Fifth Symphony sings of a troubled England

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…

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Music 11 December 2017, from £15

Chineke! Ensemble at the RNCM

Cinema 8–18 December 2017, from £5.00

A Tim Burton Trio at HOME

Exhibitions 18 November 2017–25 February 2018, FREE

humansbeingdigital at The Lowry

Theatre 7–30 December 2017, from £6.50

Red Riding Hood and The Wolf at HOME

Festivals 8–17 December 2017, FREE

Lightwaves 2017 at The Quays

Theatre 2 December 2017–3 February 2018, from £22.00

Guys and Dolls at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Music 4 October–11 December 2017, FREE

RNCM Autumn Season

Theatre 20 September–20 December 2017,

Contact Autumn Season 2017

Exhibitions 21 October 2017–7 January 2018, FREE

The Return of Memory at HOME

Festivals 22 September 2017–31 March 2018,

HOME Autumn/Winter Season