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, 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.

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 31 March 2021, from £3.49

American Utopia – Streaming on Amazon Prime

In his wildly popular Broadway show American Utopia, David Byrne reflects on human connections, life and how on earth we work through it.

PUSH Festival 2021
Festivals 27 February–27 March 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’.

Utopias exhibition at the Whitworth
Exhibitions Until 31 January 2021, FREE

Utopias at the Whitworth

How have visions of utopia and the visual culture that helped form it impacted upon the Brexit debate? A new exhibition at the Whitworth explores.

Cinema Until 31 March 2021, from £5.99

Marriage Story – Streaming on Netflix

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson excel as a couple whose once enviable union crumbles under the weight of mounting resentments and divergent needs.

White Psyche at the Whitworth in Manchester
Exhibitions Until 31 January 2021, FREE

White Psyche at the Whitworth in Manchester

White Psyche at the Whitworth examines the aesthetics of white supremacy through the story of Cupid and Psyche – a classical tale of love and good looks.

Cinema Until 31 March 2021, from £11.99

Shirley – Streaming on Curzon Home Cinema

Josephine Decker’s psychodrama blurs the boundaries of biopic and fiction in exploring the cruel forces that can feed creativity.

Cinema Until 31 January 2021, from £9.99

Possessor – Streaming on Modern Films

Tasya Vos is a corporate agent who uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies, driving them to commit assassinations for the benefit of the company.

Music 30–31 January 2021, from £7.50

The North Will Rise Again at Gorilla and The Invisible Wind Factory

Manchester and Liverpool unite to host The North Will Rise Again, a live-streamed micro-festival headlined by The Charlatans and The Lightning Seeds.

Dogs Don't Wear Pants at HOME Manchester.
Cinema Until 20 March 2021, from £4.99

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants – Streaming on Curzon Home Cinema

Heart surgeon Juha has lived life at an unengaged distance since his wife’s passing. And although it is often debilitating, his grief also throws up some rather surprising sexual urges.

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