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

Chinternet Ugly at Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art
Exhibitions 8 February–12 May 2019, FREE

Chinternet Ugly at Centre for ChineseContemporary Art

CFCCA presents Chinternet Ugly – a group exhibition that offers a rare glimpse behind the biggest digital boundary in the world: the Great Firewall of China.

Literature 9 February 2019, FREE

Peter Barlow’s Cigarette #30 at Gullivers

Regular ‘afternoon of alternative poetries’ Peter Barlow’s Cigarette kicks off the new year with #30 and heads to the Northern Quarter with a special showcase of four poets: Dan Eltringham, Ágnes Lehóczky, Denise Riley and Gareth Twose.

Music 23 January 2019, from £15.50

Songhoy Blues at Band On The Wall

Mali natives Songhoy Blues are bringing their blend of African rhythms and vocals with blues guitar traditions to Band on the Wall on the 23rd of January. A perfect way to dance off the post-Christmas blues.

Mandy Barker: Hong Kong Soup at CFCCA Manchester
Exhibitions 12 October 2018–20 January 2019, FREE

Mandy Barker: Hong Kong Soup at CFCCA

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) presents a selection of photographs from the award-winning series Hong Kong Soup: 1826 by photographer Mandy Barker (b. 1964, UK). The series demonstrates in an ironically beautiful way, the extent of plastic pollution in our oceans.

Charwei Tsai: Bulaubulau at CFCCA
Exhibitions 12 October 2018–20 January 2019, FREE

Charwei Tsai: Bulaubulau at CFCCA

For her first UK solo exhibition, Taiwan-born artist Charwei Tsai presents ‘Bulaubulau’ – a body of work that demonstrates her devoted interest in spiritual traditions and research in indigenous tribes in Taiwan.

Activity 6 October 2018–6 March 2019, from £40

Northern Quarter Taster Walk with Manchester Food Walks

We are lucky to be spoilt for choice when it comes to fresh, delicious and independent food choices in the centre of Manchester. Nowhere is this presence felt more than in the Northern Quarter. Join John Ryan on this taster walk as you eat your way through the back streets learning about the local history and culture as you go. 

Eat The City - Scranchester Tours
Food and Drink 27 October 2018–25 May 2019, from £50

Eat The City – Scranchester Tours

Satisfy your hunger for knowledge as well as lunch with Scranchester’s food tours of the city centre. You may discover a new favourite hidden gem or learn a bit more about the cultural or historical significance of the food you eat all the time.

Activity 19 January–24 April 2019, FREE

CFCCA: Free Guided Tour

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) as part of their festive weekend will be hosting their monthly free and informal tour of the building as well as their current exhibitions. Ending with some warming winter treats.

Cinema 5 March 2019, from £3

Graduation at Small World Cinema Club, Foundation Coffee House

For March, Small World Cinema Club present the gripping Romanian drama ‘Graduation’ by Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu.

Cinema 5 February 2019, from £3

Mustang at Small World Cinema Club, Foundation Coffee House

Small World Cinema Club present the acclaimed 2016 debut from Deniz Gamze Ergüven.

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

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

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

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PUSH Festival 2019 at HOME
Festivals 11–26 January 2019,

PUSH Festival 2019 at HOME

Music 8 January–10 April 2019, from £5

RNCM Spring Season

HOME at Christmas
Festivals 13 December 2017–20 January 2019,

HOME at Christmas

Cinema 7 December 2018–20 January 2019, from £5

Slapstick Film Season at HOME

The Producers - A Mel Brooks Musical at the Royal Exchange
Music 30 November 2018–2 February 2019, from £10.00

The Producers – A Mel Brooks Musical at the Royal Exchange

Music 11 October 2018–22 May 2019,

The Hallé 2018-19 Season

Poppy, Esme, Oleanna, Gracie and Kate, 2014. Personal Feeling is the main thing - Chantal Joffe at The Lowry, Salford
Exhibitions 19 May 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Salford Royal Academy Takeover

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry
Exhibitions 10 November 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry

Autumn at the Science and Industry Museum - Distortions in Spacetime by Marshmallow Laser Feast
25 September 2018–28 April 2019, FREE

Autumn at the Science and Industry Museum