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.
Talking Sense at The Portico Library aims to open up a space for helpful conversations around the future of care.
Powerful and fast-paced and heart-breaking, following a phenomenal run last year, we’re thrilled that West Side Story returns to the Royal Exchange this April.
Dedicated to the natural world, this BBC Philharmonic concert features familiar works by Sibelius, Debussy and Respighi, as well as a new commission by Tom Coult.
Visit People’s History Museum’s 2020 display of political banners from across the years – including several that will go on public show for the first time.
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.
An outstanding orchestra live in a world-class concert hall – read about the BBC Philharmonic’s 2019-20 season at The Bridgewater Hall.
From a brilliant range of symphonies, concertos, vocal works, operas and more, we select our five top picks from the Hallé’s 2019-20 season.
The much-loved Góbéfest returns this June with a joyous showcase of the arts, culture, food and drink of the fabled-region of Transylvania.
Celebrating the city’s diverse and notoriously radical past, Manchester Histories Festival returns with an inspired programme of free talks, guided walks, film screenings, activities and performances.
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.
Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.
Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.
Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.