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.

Peaceophobia at Q-Park First Street Car Park
Theatre 29 September–2 October 2021, from £5

Peaceophobia at Q-Park First Street Car Park

Part car rally and part theatre show aiming to challenge the political, social and cultural narratives associated with young Muslim men.

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’.

Lemn Sissay.
Exhibitions Until 29 August 2021,

Poet Slash Artist

Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Lemn Sissay, this new multifaceted group show – created as part of Manchester International Festival 2021 and continuing at HOME until 29 August – connects words and images and explores the poet as artist and the artist as poet.

MIF 2021: Cloud Studies at the Whitworth, Manchester
Exhibitions Until 17 October 2021, FREE

MIF21: Cloud Studies at the Whitworth, Manchester

Manchester International Festival presents a major exhibition of work that exposes how states and corporations weaponise the air we breathe.

Writer Louise Finnigan.
Literature 20 August 2021 6:30 pm, FREE

Fly On The Wall Press showcase at Blackwell’s Manchester

Manchester-based not-for-profit publisher Fly On The Wall Press has teamed up with Blackwell’s Manchester to present this showcase of three exciting local authors, David Hartley, Louise Finnigan and Tina Tamsho-Thomas, who will be reading from their latest releases.

Cinema 6–22 August 2021, from £7.50

¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival 2021 at HOME

HOME’s much-loved ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival returns for its 27th year with a summer-y edition that takes audiences around the world.

11 August 2021, from £7.5

Nuevo orden & Introduction at HOME

Jason Wood, Creative Director: Film & Culture at HOME, introduces a screening of Mexican director Michel Franco’s new shocking, socio-political thriller.

women and girls night
Activity Until 26 August 2021, from £8

Women and Girls Skate sessions at Projekts

Join Projekts skate park for exclusively women and girls skating, every Thursday from 7 – 9 pm. Be warned the sessions are very popular so book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
Theatre Until 7 August 2021, from £5.00

CANCELLED: Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland at Homeground

CANCELLED: We’re thrilled that a new adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s fantastical story will play in the open air in Manchester this summer. Perfect.

Karol Kochanowski: patience.HEADSPACE.resilience at HOME
Exhibitions Until 5 September 2021,

Karol Kochanowski: patience.HEADSPACE.resilience at HOME Manchester

Award-winning artist Karol Kochanowski’s paintings depict uncanny spaces, some of which are populated with strange forms.

Manchester District Guides

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Photo of a handwritten label in a cafe that says "Ring for service with a smile"

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The front of Didsbury restaurant Volta.

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