Northern Quarter, Manchester

Northern Quarter, Manchester

Creative Tourist

Manchester’s most characterful, independent district is a jumbled network of streets to one side of Piccadilly Gardens – once home to busy textiles warehouses and even the occasional umbrella factory. Now, the red brick buildings with their New York-style fire escapes are regularly used in film sets, and the streets are bursting with independent cafés, shops, bars, and cultural hotspots.

The Northern Quarter has become a destination in its own right, with the laid-back, bohemian vibe during the day transforming at night into teeming pavements of people in search of good food, craft beer, pop-up events and live music.

Ben Williams, Creative Tourist
Image by Ben Williams, Creative Tourist

When walking around, keep your eyes peeled for public art, including the sculptures of birds high on a wall on John Street (reflecting the area’s reputation in Victorian times as a ‘pets paradise’), the illuminated, 12 metre-tall Big Boys Toy on the top of the NCP car park, and the artistic graffiti on the outhouse in the middle of Stevenson Square.

Discover our top picks

Poet Amy Kinsman.
Literature 3 May 2018, FREE

Amy Kinsman book launch at Kraak

Poet, playwright and founding editor of Riggwelter Press Amy Kinsman launches her debut pamphlet &. She is joined by Kate Garrett-Nield and Pete Green, plus open mic performers, for a night of words.

Artist Dan Berry and writer David Gaffney.
Literature 28 April 2018, FREE

The Three Rooms In Valerie’s Head book signing at Travelling Man

To mark the launch of their first graphic novel collaboration, The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head, artist Dan Berry and writer David Gaffney will be chatting and signing copies at this relaxed Saturday-afternoon event.

NOW: A dialogue on female Chinese contemporary artists
Exhibitions 16 February–29 April 2018, FREE

NOW: A Dialogue On Female Chinese Contemporary Artists

CFCCA and HOME take part in a new UK-wide programme of exhibitions, commissions and events celebrating female contemporary artists working in China today.

Breathe at MCDC
Exhibitions 9 February–12 May 2018, FREE

Breathe at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Glass making and digital design combine to remarkable effect in this new exhibition at MCDC, which gives physical shape to the sound of the blower’s breath.

Music 20 January–29 April 2018, from £8

New North and South at Band on the Wall

A three-year programme of co-commissions, exhibitions and intellectual exchange to celebrate shared heritage between the North of England and South Asia, New North and South features 15 events over three months in its 2018 music strand. Highlights include a live soundtrack from Asian Dub Foundation, Nitin Sawhney’s collaboration with theatre company Tara Arts, plus live performances fmor the likes of percussion ensemble The Dhol Foundation and contemporary Indian folk musician Raghu Dixit.

Music 21 June 2018, from £16

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo at Band on the Wall

Boasting the status of ‘the oldest active African orchestra’, Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rythmo continue to record and tour some five decades after its inception. Catch the group – featuring three original members – live this summer.

Music 21 May 2018, from £25

Os Mutantes at Band on the Wall

Legendary Brazilian psychedelic rock group Os Mutantes make their Manchester debut this May, over 50 years after forming. Find out why they count Beck, David Byrne and Devendra Banhart among their many fans worldwide.

Psych Icons exhibition at Foundation Coffee House, Manchester
Exhibitions 10 May 2018, FREE

Psych Icons at Foundation Coffee House

Psych Icons is a new exhibition by Manchester based artist, Dunstan Carter, featuring twelve portraits of music icons from the golden age of psychedelia.

Manchester After Hours 2018
Cinema 17 May 2018, FREE

Manchester After Hours 2018

Part of the UK-wide ‘Lates’ festival for the culturally curious, Manchester After Hours returns this year with an exciting one-night programme of post 5pm activity spread across many of the city’s most loved venues.

Whiskey Chow at CFCCA, part of Manchester After Hours 2018
Exhibitions 17 May 2018, FREE

Whiskey Chow at CFCCA

As part of Manchester After Hours 2018, head to CFCCA for a one-off performance and talk by Chinese artist, activist and drag king Whiskey Chow (Xiaoxuan Zhou).

Places to go / stay / shop / eat / drink

Manchester District Guides

Photo of a handwritten label in a cafe that says "Ring for service with a smile"

Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester

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Beech Road Chorlton, Manchester

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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…