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

Back to the future half term in manchester
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.

House of Suarez - Vogue Ball 2020
Dance 29 February 2020 7:00 pm, from £15.00

House of Suarez + Contact: Vogue Ball 2020 at Manchester Academy

Daring, fabulous and with a nautical twist for 2020, House of Suarez are back to host the ultimate battle for dance supremacy.

Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest at People's History Museum
Exhibitions Until 23 February 2020, FREE

Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest at People’s History Museum

LAST CHANCE. Marking the 200-year-anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, ‘Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest’ at People’s History Museum takes visitors on a journey through the past, present and future of protest in this country.

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.

Classical Music 4 June 2020 7:30 pm, from £12.50

BBC Philharmonic: Sibelius/Debussy/Tom Coult/Respighi at The Bridgewater Hall

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.

2020 Banner Display at People's History Museum, Manchester
Exhibitions Until 3 January 2021, FREE

2020 Banner Display at People’s History Museum

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.

Talking Sense: The changing vocabulary of mind and brain at The Portico Library
Exhibitions Until 13 April 2020, FREE

Talking Sense: The changing vocabulary of mind and brain at The Portico Library

Talking Sense at The Portico Library aims to open up a space for helpful conversations around the future of care.

Cinema 7–11 October 2020, 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.

BBC Philharmonic 2019 2020 season bridgewater hall manchester
Classical Music Until 13 June 2020,

BBC Philharmonic 2019/20 Concert Season

An outstanding orchestra live in a world-class concert hall – read about the BBC Philharmonic’s 2019-20 season at The Bridgewater Hall.

Hallé
Classical Music Until 30 May 2020,

The Hallé 2019-20 Season

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.

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…