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, 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

Paddy Hartley's artwork from the EDIT 01 exhibition at The Lowry
Exhibitions 1 April–14 May 2017, FREE

EDIT 01: Paddy Hartley at The Lowry

Head to The Lowry to meet the artist who designed wearable sculptures for Lady Gaga, and find out why he’s installed a huge clay trench in the upstairs gallery space.

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 30 April–1 May 2017, from £13.15

HOAX Our Right to Hope at The Lowry

Hoax is a heart-wrenching yet hopeful immersive art experience that takes you completely into another person’s world view.

Dance 23 May 2017, from £14.50

Symphonie Dramatique at The Lowry

Symphonie Dramatique – which reimagines the story of Romeo and Juliet through a mix of classical and contemporary dance – has got fire and finesse…and we’ve got a feeling it’s going to be great.

Dance 9 May 2017, from £14.50

Stepmother Stepfather at The Lowry

If David Lynch did dance it would probably look something like Stepmother Stepfather, which explores the darker side of life through fairy tales and frightening families.

Literature 6–10 June 2017, FREE

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.

Dance 12 May 2017, from £17.50

Reunión at The Lowry

Reunión conjures up Spanish life in full colour, and proves once again that flamenco is the dance style of the soul.

Exhibitions 27 May 2016–1 May 2017, from £3.00

Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style at Imperial War Museum North

From ‘onesies’ to wear in the air raid shelter to jewellery created from aeroplane parts, Fashion on the Ration looks at how fashion survived and even flourished under the strict rules of rationing in 1940s Britain.

Manchester District Guides

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

Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester

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Beech Road Chorlton, Manchester

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The front of Didsbury restaurant Volta.

Didsbury, Manchester

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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…