The cafe in the trees at the Whitworth
Image courtesy of The Whitworth

Oxford Road, Manchester

Creative Tourist

Stretching all the way from the Curry Mile – with its glittering sari emporiums, Indian sweet shops and mixed reputation for actual curry – up toward the city centre, Oxford Road is not only home to two Universities, the Royal Northern College of Music, an Olympic-sized pool and a good number of the city’s best music venues, it’s also the busiest bus route in Europe. Yes, this is student land, but cultural institutions such as The Whitworth art gallery, Manchester Museum and International Anthony Burgess Centre also make the area a real draw for locals and tourists alike. There are also two parks: Whitworth Park, which dates back to 1890, and Grosvenor Square, a small patch of green that was once a church and where now, on sunny days, the locals come out to bask in bookish style.

The Oxford Road Corridor is the site of serious scientific innovation; here, you can visit the place where the atom was split, and doff your cap to the building dedicated to pioneering computer scientist and code breaker Alan Turing. Once home to philosopher Friedrich Engels and writer Elizabeth Gaskell, the area can boast its fair share of artistic prestige, too. Here, history and innovation still exist side by side.

Discover our top picks

  • 1. Manchester Museum

    Manchester Museum Tours at Manchester Museum

    Manchester Museum, The University Of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9PL - Visit now

    Manchester Museum boasts six million pieces in its archive, an impressive Egyptology collection and new discovery space The Study all in one gothic, Grade II*-listed building.

  • 2. RNCM Lunchtime Concerts

    Image courtesy of RNCM.

    RNCM Lunchtime Concerts at Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester, Until 30 March 2023, from £2.50 - Book now

    This biweekly concert series is one of the most accessible ways to see incredible live classical music in Manchester.

  • 3. Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

    Image courtesy of Marketing Manchester / © Joel-Chester-Fildess

    Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9LW - Visit now

    Elizabeth Gaskell’s House has been lovingly restored; you can now sit at her desk, see where Charlotte Brontë hid behind the curtains, and have tea in the downstairs café. The Pankhurst Centre is also nearby.

  • 4. Mansfield Park at RNCM

    Mansfield Park at RNCM
    Image courtesy of Aaron Groves.

    RNCM Opera: Mansfield Park at Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester, 26 March 2023, from £12.50 - Book now

    Behind the striking black, red and white exterior of the RNCM is a state of the art opera house which this spring will be showing Johnathan Dove’s Mansfield Park.

  • 5. Contact Theatre

    exterior of Contact Theatre building

    Contact Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6JA - Visit now

    Contact has to be the go-to place for emerging theatre in the city, with commissioned work here going on to high acclaim. Set back from the road but recognizable by its H-shaped turrets. Currently closed for renovation, Contact’s In The City programme has put their rivals in the shade.

  • 6. The Whitworth

    The Whitworth
    The Whitworth, Photo: Alan Williams

    The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6ER - Visit now

    It’s been a few years now since The Whitworth underwent a £15m redevelopment; it almost feels like the gallery has always jutted out into Whitworth park, seamlessly transitioning from old to new. The exhibitions here are excellent.

  • 7. Palace Theatre

    Palace Theatre Manchester
    Image courtesy of Palace Theatre Manchester.

    Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 6FT - Visit now

    The Palace Theatre opened in 1891 and is still one of Manchester’s major venues, with a particular focus on touring productions. Expect (slightly faded) splendour.

  • 8. The Refuge

    Heritage Tomatoes, Red Onion

    The Refuge, Oxford Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 7HA - Visit now

    The Refuge is a restaurant and bar based at The Principal Manchester, one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings.

  • 9. The Deaf Institute

    Pimped Fries

    The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 7HE - Visit now

    The Deaf Institute was once an actual institute for the deaf, but is now a kitchen, bar and music hall (complete with enormous disco ball). One of the best, and quirkiest, gig venues in the city.

  • 10. Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM)

    RNCM

    Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), 124 Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9RD - Visit now

    The Royal Northern College of Music is both a music venue and an academic institution training up some of the country’s finest music students.

Exhibitions Until 3 December 2023, FREE

(Un)Defining Queer at The Whitworth

Through a fantastic collection of classical and contemporary artists’ work, ‘(Un)Defining Queer’ examines the use of language, histories and narratives to explore what ‘queer’ really means today.

Music 10 February 2023 8:00 pm, from £9.00

Manchester Collective: Bag of Bones at the RNCM

Manchester Collective bring a brand new staged world premiere of Alice Zawadski’s Bag of Bones to the RNCM as part of their spring season.

Queer Contact 2023
Comedy 4–18 February 2023,

Queer Contact Festival 2023

The ultimate celebration of art and creativity in the LGBTQ+ community, Queer Contact Festival returns to the Contact Theatre for 2023.

House of Suarez Presents: Vogue Ball at Contact
Dance 4 February 2023 7:00 pm, from £15.00

House of Suarez + Contact: Vogue Ball at Manchester Academy

Fabulous and fierce – with a dazzling disco theme – House of Suarez are back to stage the ultimate battle for dance supremacy.

When All Is Said with Contact
Theatre 13–17 February 2023, from £6.00

When All Is Said at Contact

Curated by Travis Alabanza and happening as part of Queer Contact 2023 – sit back and listen to five short plays, penned by five Black trans people, delivered over the phone.

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME
Festivals Until 18 February 2023,

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME

A celebration of the North West’s creative talents, PUSH Festival at HOME Manchester is always a highlight of the theatre calendar.

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre
Families Until 11 March 2023, from £20.00

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre

The sun may have set over our Manchester theatres during the pandemic – but now “it’s rolling high through the sapphire sky” once again. Hit musical The Lion King has added even more dates to its previously postponed run.

Too Much World at Once at HOME
Theatre 3–11 March 2023, from £10.50

Too Much World at Once at HOME

A debut play by Billie Collins – supported by the ever-brilliant Box of Tricks – exploring home, connection and what happens when it all begins to fall.

Cinema 10–16 February 2023, from £7.95

Roman Holiday at HOME

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, HOME present William Wyler’s classic romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

The Zoom Tours Series
Activity Until 31 July 2023, from £6

Jonathan Schofield Walking Tours

Jonathan Schofield Is well known for his expertly informed, charismatic and intriguing guided tours, join him on one to find out why.

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