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. 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.

  • 3. 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.

  • 4. 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.

  • 5. 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.

  • 6. 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.

  • 7. 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.

  • 8. 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.

  • 9. Big Hands

    Image courtesy Big Hands.

    Big Hands, 296 Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9NS

    Big Hands is the one-time haunt of legendary Manchester band Elbow; it’s shabby, loud and dark, with a jukebox and excellent roof terrace.

  • 10. Eighth Day

    Eighth Day
    image courtesy of On the Eighth Day

    Eighth Day, 111 Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 7DU - Visit now

    Eighth Day is a co-operative shop that sells ethically-sourced food, wine and cosmetics. There’s also café that serves hearty, healthy meals in the basement.

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre
Families 27 October 2022–19 February 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.

Festivals Until 31 August 2022, from £9.95

Flying Fighters of Taiwan at HOME

A film season of epic sword-wielding warriors and spectacular wuxia action featuring acrobatic performance skills in fantastical historical settings.

Split Britches: Last Gasp
Theatre 30 November–1 December 2022,

Split Britches: Last Gasp at Contact

Combining spoken word and movement, the legendary experimental duo return to the physical theatre with a wry performative reflection on the turbulent last couple of years.

Cinema 3–20 September 2022, from £7.95

Cinema on the Edge: Japanese Film in the 1970s at HOME

From gutsy genre pieces, to experimental art house classics, and challenging underground fare, HOME present a thrilling new film season.

Helen Mort. Photo by Jonathan Pow
Literature 28 November 2022 7:00 pm, from £15.00

Forward Prizes at Contact and online

It’s the 30th anniversary of the Forward Prizes for Poetry, the most influential awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland, honouring fresh voices alongside internationally established names – and this year the glittering awards ceremony will take place right here in Manchester.

Manchester Poetry Library blue
Literature Until 17 September 2022, FREE

Forget Me Not exhibition at Manchester Poetry Library

Forget Me Not is a new exhibition exploring the relationship between poetry and pictures in Victorian and Edwardian greetings cards. The show aims to provide a snapshot of the Laura Seddon Collection, brimming with over 32,500 examples of 19th-century greetings cards and one of the largest and most comprehensive sources for their study.

Author Torrey Peters.
Literature 25 August 2022 7:00 pm, from £8.00

Torrey Peters and Imogen Binnie at the Whitworth

Manchester’s independent gay bookshop Queer Lit has teamed up with The Whitworth to bring you an evening with novelists Torrey Peters and Imogen Binnie.

Author Adam Farrer. Photo by Simon Buckley
Literature 8 September 2022 6:30 pm, from £3.00

Adam Farrer in conversation with Jenn Ashworth at Blackwell’s

Like place-writing, then this could be one for you, as Manchester-based writer and The Real Story co-organiser Adam Farrer launches his debut book Cold Fish Soup, winner of the 2021 NorthBound Book Award, at a reading and in conversation event with Portico Prize-shortlisted author and memoirist Jenn Ashworth.

Playtime: Summer Family Activities at The Whitworth
Families Until 31 August 2022, FREE

Playtime: Summer Family Activities at The Whitworth

Get creative and explore the art of play at The Whitworth this summer.

Music 13–15 October 2022, from £13.20

Manchester Folk Festival 2022

Manchester Folk Festival grows from strength to strength with a soul-melting lineup and the addition of a new venue.

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