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

Jerwood Makers Open at Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibitions Until 4 October 2020, FREE

Jerwood Makers Open at Manchester Art Gallery

The seventh edition of Jerwood Makers Open, presented at Manchester Art Gallery, demonstrates that craft and artisanship are by no means dead.

soundwalk
Activity Until 20 December 2020, FREE

A Meeting Place | 会议地点 : A soundwalk in Chinatown

Explore the history of Manchester’s Chinese community with a soundwalk from CFCCA’s current resident artist, Hayley Suviste.

Images of protest: Black Lives Matter at People's History Museum
Exhibitions Until 31 December 2020, FREE

Images of protest: Black Lives Matter at People’s History Museum

People’s History Museum presents a powerful selection of images documenting one of the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests that took place in central Manchester during May 2020.

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.

Cinema 7–11 October 2020, from £8.50

Grimmfest 2020

Manchester’s annual festival of horror, cult and fantastic film returns with an new online format this October.

Derek Jarman PROTEST! exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibitions Until 1 December 2020, FREE

POSTPONED: Derek Jarman: PROTEST! at Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery is open again and they present the UK edition of PROTEST! – a major retrospective dedicated to the life and work of the iconic British artist Derek Jarman.

New Digital Experiences at People's History Museum, Manchester
Exhibitions Until 23 December 2020, FREE

New Digital Experiences at People’s History Museum

Can cutting-edge tech bring us closer to the events of the past? People’s History Museum unveils a series of new digital artworks and experiences.

Trading Station: how hot drinks shape our lives – exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibitions Until 14 December 2021, FREE

Trading Station: how hot drinks shape our lives at Manchester Art Gallery

Trading Station at Manchester Art Gallery charts the history and changing social role of hot drinks in our lives.

Future 20: Last Place On Earth – Online
Exhibitions Until 31 December 2020,

Future 20: Last Place On Earth – Online

Last Place On Earth is a brand new digital experience from the Future 20 collective, commissioned by HOME.

What is Manchester Art Gallery?
Exhibitions Until 31 January 2023, FREE

What is Manchester Art Gallery? at Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery reopens with a thought-provoking new exhibition that delves into the history of the public institution and its role within the city.

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…