Salford museum and art gallery exterior

Salford, Greater Manchester

Creative Tourist

Cross over the River Irwell, and you’ll find yourself in another city entirely – Salford. You’ll barely feel the transition, though; despite locals who are fierce about the fact that Salford is a city in its own right, it’s only separated from Manchester by the width of the river, distance-wise. Which is not to say that you won’t see differences between the two.

Gritty urban realism has been this city’s stock in trade since L.S. Lowry painted his very first matchstick man. Some will have read about it in Love on the Dole. Some will have seen it depicted in kitchen sink dramas or Corrie. And others will forever associate the city with John Cooper Clarke rasping his way through ‘Evidently Chickentown’, or the dystopian anthems of Joy Division.

Now, however, Salford has an up-and-coming feel; the Chapel Street area of the city, the focus of an ongoing regeneration project, is home to a creative community including Hot Bed Press and over 100 artists and 50 innovative businesses at Islington Mill. If you’re visiting around May, look out for the highlight of Salford’s strong music scene, Sounds from the Other City festival, which brings an incendiary mix of live bands, literary readings and art hi-jinks to an eclectic selection of venues.

The Council-run Salford Museum and Art Gallery is a friendly city museum with special appeal to families, and the nearby Working Class Movement Library provides a fascinating look at the past. The personal collection of labour historians Ruth and Edmund Frow, it’s a veritable treasure trove of material dating back to the 1760s. Ordsall Hall, the city’s beautifully restored (and supposedly haunted) Tudor mansion, has a busy programme of events and activities all year round, including events as part of horror film festival Grimmfest.

Salford inspires fierce loyalty among its inhabitants. Spend any significant period of time here, and you may begin to understand why.

Discover our top picks

Theatre 27 May–16 July 2017, FREE

IRIS by Marshmallow Laser Feast at The Lowry

The Lowry’s Lyric Theatre is set to be taken over by a stunning spectacle of lasers, light, sound and colour from leading creative studio Marshmallow Laser Feast. Audiences will experience IRIS – a unique digital art installation created using laser technology.

Exhibitions 27 May 2017, FREE

Quays Culture Summer Festival event – Russell Maliphant at The Quays

Quays Culture team up with UK contemporary dance leaders Russell Maliphant Company to reimagine his latest work for the outdoors. With visual design by artists Squid Soup, Salford Quays will be transformed for one night only.

Literature 6–10 June 2017, from £22.00

Trainspotting Live at The Lowry

A group of young people growing up in a world they don’t believe in – that’s the core of Trainspotting, which comes alive in this intense and immersive adaptation.

Exhibitions 1–9 July 2017, FREE

MIF17: HOME1947 at The Lowry

Two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy reflects on the experiences of people who left their homes during the Partition of British India in 1947, the largest mass migration ever witnessed, in this world premiere at The Lowry.

Exhibitions 20–29 May 2017, FREE

Unnatural Borders at MediaCityUK

This season, endangered species from land and sea migrate to the metropolis of MediaCityUK, in the form of four gigantic sculptures for Quays Culture’s Unnatural Borders exhibition.

Families 27 May–4 June 2017, FREE

Half term events at Salford Museum & Art Gallery

Take a trip down atmospheric street installation Lark Hill Place with theatrical tours then let loose in Peel Park.

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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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