Image courtesy of Visit Britain

The Quays, Greater Manchester

Creative Tourist

The Quays is an area that’s gone from busy industrial dock to 21st century cultural hub in just over 100 years. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1894, the Salford Docks (as they were then known) became the busiest in the UK, serving the ships that came up the Manchester Ship Canal, a waterway built in order to escape the hefty charges levied by Liverpool’s dock and rail companies. Today, The Quays is home to MediaCityUK (the largest media hub in Europe) and studios purpose-built for the BBC’s move up North in 2011.

Two major cultural institutions – Imperial War Museum North and The Lowry – also straddle the Ship Canal, connected by a pedestrian bridge. The Lowry boasts two theatre, galleries, a studio space, restaurant and shop; IWM North’s fragmented design represents a globe shattered by war (inside, it’s completely devoid of right angles) and houses a beautifully-presented permanent collection and series of changing exhibitions that consider the many ways conflict shapes society. Restaurants (we highly recommend Pier 8 at The Lowry),  bars and even high-end supermarkets (the family-run Booths) complete the offer in the area.

With good transport links to the city centre, The Quays is the sort of place where you could happily lose half a day; or some of your sanity, if you choose to complete the ‘dock to dock’ course of the Great Manchester Swim.

Discover our top picks

Doctor Dolittle the Musical Tour
Families 11 December 2018–5 January 2019, from £16.50

Doctor Dolittle at The Lowry

Get your tickets quick to have your eyes opened by a whole other (animal) world this festive season. Mark Williams (The Fast Show) stars in the title role of this major new musical adaptation.

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry
Exhibitions 10 November 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry in Salford provides an unexpected insight into the artistic imagination of one of the UK’s most popular artists.

Families 1 December 2018–6 January 2019, from £14

Stick Man at The Lowry

This much- loved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler tale of misadventure is brought to life for small people and their grown ups this festive season by Scamp Theatre.

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals 7–16 December 2018, FREE

Lightwaves 2018 at The Quays

An unmissable ten days of luminary adventures. Interact with boundary-breaking new commissions, create your own digital masterpieces and take a selfie with a Dalek. Yep, really.

War Horse at the New London Theatre. Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg. Courtesy of IWM North. Lest We Forget
Exhibitions 27 July 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Lest We Forget? at Imperial War Museum North

Lest We Forget marks the first instalment of a major new season of exhibitions, music, dance, talks and events at IWM London and IWM North exploring how the First World War has shaped society today.

An Evening of Eric & Ern at Christman
Comedy 18 December 2018–6 January 2019, from £23.00

An Evening of Eric & Ern at Christmas at The Lowry

Coming to The Lowry this December. With Morecambe and Wise’s most-loved routines, songs and sketches, An Evening of Eric & Ern at Christmas is a superb homage to the comedy duo.

Activity 20 October 2018–31 December 2019, FREE

Documentary Challenge at IWM North

Make and feature in your own mini-documentary at IWM North.

LS Lowry: The Art and the Artist – An introduction to LS Lowry’s life and work at Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Activity 16 January 2019, from £10

LS Lowry: The Art and the Artist – An introduction to LS Lowry’s life and work at Salford Museum & Art Gallery

Head to Salford Art Gallery and Museum to find out more about the fascinating life of the somewhat-reclusive, Stretford-born artist and rent collector LS Lowry.

Kendal Calling NYE
Music 31 December 2018–1 January 2019, from £29.5

Kendal Calling NYE at Victoria Warehouse

Kendal Calling have invited some of their friends who have graced the fields of Lowther Deer Park to headline the first ever Kendal Calling New Year’s celebration.

This years’s early line-up includes Everything Everything, Tom Grennan, Felix Hagan & the Family, Tim Peaks and Howling Rhythm.

Music 16 March 2019, from £37.95

Anderson .Paak at Victoria Warehouse

In support of his new album ‘Oxnard’, Anderson. Paak is heading out on a world tour. He’ll be stopping by Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse on the 16 March.

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

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

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…

Things to do right now

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Doctor Dolittle the Musical Tour
Families 11 December 2018–5 January 2019, from £16.50

Doctor Dolittle at The Lowry

Släpstick at HOME
Families 13–22 December 2018, from £10.00

Släpstick at HOME

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry
Exhibitions 10 November 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry

Families 1 December 2018–6 January 2019, from £14

Stick Man at The Lowry

Cinema 7–20 December 2018, from £5.50

The Old Man & the Gun at HOME

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals 7–16 December 2018, FREE

Lightwaves 2018 at The Quays

HOME at Christmas
Festivals 13 December 2017–20 January 2019,

HOME at Christmas

Cinema 7 December 2018–20 January 2019, from £5

Slapstick Film Season at HOME

A Virus Walks Into a Bar, John Walter: CAPSID at HOME, Manchester
Exhibitions 10 November 2018–6 January 2019, FREE

John Walter: CAPSID at HOME

Music 13–29 December 2018, from £15.50

The Hallé at Christmas

The Royal Exchange Autumn Winter SeasonThe Royal Exchange Autumn Winter Season
Theatre 21 September 2018–12 January 2019,

The Royal Exchange Autumn / Winter Season