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

Dance 28–30 September 2017, from £12.50

Rambert – Ghost Dances Plus Other Works at The Lowry

Spirits of the dead take over the stage in an electrifying dance piece at the centre of this unmissable triple bill at The Lowry.

Exhibitions 10 June–24 September 2017, FREE

Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 – Unseen photographs by Clive Arrowsmith at The Lowry

What can we tell of a man from his kitchen sink or old-fashioned cooker? A great deal it would seem judging by a new exhibition of rare, previously unseen photographs at The Lowry…

Exhibitions 23 June 2017–1 January 2018, from £4.00

Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War at IWM North

IWM North turns its attention to one of the most controversial figures in British art.

Dance 19–20 October 2017, from £12

Andante at The Lowry

Igor and Moreno want to make life changing works. They also want to dance around a lot.

Dance 10 October 2017, from £16.50

Alexander Whitley – 8 Minutes at The Lowry

ancers perform in front of a magnificent visual installation in this acclaimed, cosmos-inspired dance piece at The Lowry.

Theatre 6 October 2017, FREE

Hush Hush at The Lowry

Hush Hush is a night where you don’t know who the performer will be, and you can pay what you decide.

Exhibitions 20 May–19 November 2017, FREE

What’s in Store? at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

What’s in Store? is a unique showcase of The University of Salford Art Collection; established in 1969 it now includes around 700 works by artists including Bridget Riley, David Hockney and Gilbert and George.

Exhibitions 28 April–29 September 2017, FREE

The Life and Work of Marx and Engels at the Working Class Movement Library

Is there a breath of communism in the air? The WCML’s new exhibition explores the life, work and creative collaboration between two of the world’s most influential political thinkers.

Theatre 10–11 November 2017, from £11.00 - 16.00

You’ve Changed at The Lowry

It’s fourteen years since Kate O’Donnell transitioned and a lot has changed – but have you?

Dance 24 October 2017, from £16.50

Candoco Dance Company: Double Bill at the Lowry

Candoco’s ability to mix serious art with self-deprecation marks them out as one of the best dance troupes around.

Manchester District Guides

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

It may not quite have the reputation of Benefits Street, but Beech Road in Chorlton…

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

This left-leaning suburb a few miles south of Manchester’s city centre (and only ten minutes…

Cheetham Hill, Manchester

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