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

Literature 12 December 2018, FREE

No Matter #4 at The Castle

No Matter #4 welcomes poets Emma Bolland, #Interrupteur artist-writer in residence at the University of Sheffield, Poetry Wales editor Nia Davies and Rebecca Tamás, whose new collection will be published by Penned in the Margins in 2019. Bring your change purse – there will be book and pamphlet buying opportunities.

Literature 9 December 2018, FREE

Murmur #7 at Common

Murmur #7 welcomes artist and poet Ed Atkins (last here for Performance Capture, his exhibition at Manchester International Festival 2015) and visual artist, filmmaker and writer Fatema Abdoolcarim, plus music from SMS DJs.

Activity 16 September–24 November 2018, from £9

The Modern History of the Northern Quarter Tour

Join us as we learn about the creation of the Northern Quarter as we know it today, find out the major names behind some of the area’s oldest street art and sculpture, and see how modern arts and community movements in Manchester hope to continue to drive creativity within the neighbourhood.

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 22 September–31 December 2018, FREE

Free Tour Discover Manchester

Sí Manchester’s free daily tour is a brilliant way to get an overview of the city with tours running in both English and Spanish.

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 24 November 2018, FREE

CFCCA Festive Weekend: 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.

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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The Maids at HOME
Theatre 16 November–1 December 2018, from £10.00

The Maids at HOME

Cinema 2–23 November 2018, from £5

Peterloo at HOME

A Virus Walks Into a Bar, John Walter: CAPSID at HOME, Manchester
Exhibitions 10 November 2018–6 January 2019, FREE

John Walter: CAPSID at HOME

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

HOME at Christmas

Photo of the festive display outside the Corn Exchange
Families 9 November–23 December 2018, FREE

Manchester Christmas Markets

The Royal Exchange Autumn Winter SeasonThe Royal Exchange Autumn Winter Season
Theatre 21 September 2018–12 January 2019,

The Royal Exchange Autumn / Winter Season

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

Cinderella at Oldham Coliseum
Theatre 10 November 2018–12 January 2019, from £17.50

Cinderella at Oldham Coliseum