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

    Bank Holiday Weekend at 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.

Queer Contact 2021
Festivals 29 April–1 May 2021,

Queer Contact Festival 2021

Bringing an online celebration of art and creativity in the LGBTQ+ community, we’re thrilled that Queer Contact Festival will return for 2021.

PUSH Festival - HOME
Festivals Until 31 December 2021,

PUSH Festival 2021 at HOME

Thrilling and challenging, HOME’s annual festival is a glimmering reminder that new performance continues to be developed, despite ‘you-know-what’.

Everything That Rises Must Dance with HOME
Theatre Until 31 July 2021,

Everything that rises must dance with HOME

Produced by Complicité for Homemakers: Join a virtual gathering of women for an online dance project celebrating female movement throughout history.

Cinema Until 30 April 2021, from £9.99

Minari – Streaming via Altitude

Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at Homeground
Theatre 3–26 June 2021,

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Homeground

Experience this riotous reworking of the Shakespearean comedy at HOME’s new brilliant outdoor cultural venue.

Don’t Touch My Hair
Theatre Until 1 August 2021,

Don’t Touch My Hair with HOME

Fearless social activism meets unapologetic hip hop. A concentrated dose of Hot Brown Honey is just what we all need right now.

Queer Contact 2021: Marke Croasdale - Spilling The Tea
Theatre 29 April 2021 6:00 pm, from £6.00

Queer Contact 2021: Mark Croasdale – Spilling The Tea

An explosive performance about coming out, finding ways to belong and fitting in. A film premiere and Q&A.

Queer Contact 2021: Roma Havers - LOB
Literature 29 April 2021 8:00 pm, from £6.00

Queer Contact 2021: Roma Havers: LOB

Written and performed by Roma Havers, LOB is a tennis and poetry theatre piece that explores moving through sporting spaces as a queer body.

Queer Contact 2021: An Evening with Cheddar Gorgeous and Friends
Theatre 1 May 2021 7:30 pm, from £5.50

Queer Contact 2021: An Evening with Cheddar Gorgeous and Friends

For one night only, join drag legend Cheddar Gorgeous and some guest stars for a special evening of cabaret and live conversation.

Activity 17 May 2021 10:30 am,

Mothers Who Make: May 2021 with HOME

Mothers who Make welcomes all types of mothers who work in creative worlds, to gather and share their experiences of balancing motherhood and creative exploits.

Manchester District Guides

Medieval Quarter, Manchester

The Medieval Quarter, or Cathedral Quarter as it is sometimes known, is one of the oldest parts of Manchester and home to some historic gems and cultural must-sees.  

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

Chorlton is a left-leaning suburb a few miles south of Manchester’s city centre (and only…

Cheetham Hill, Manchester

As an area, Cheetham Hill gets a pretty bad rep. The foreboding architecture of Strangeways…