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

Theatre 24–25 February 2017, from £5.00

Dance: Sampled at The Lowry

Dance: Sampled is a weekend of amazing acrobatics, sensual strutting and challenging ballet, with taster sessions from the world’s top contemporary dance companies – not to mention a packed programme of workshops and pop-up performances.

Theatre 8–25 March 2017,

SICK! Festival

SICK! Festival makes just the kind of art we like: challenging, entertaining and always aimed at changing the world for the better.

Theatre 22–23 February 2017, from £12.00

Good Dog at The Lowry

Unseen women, unwanted old men and unappreciated teenagers are all part of Good Dog’s scalpel-sharp story, written by celebrated actor and playwright Arinzé Kene.

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.

Families 18–22 April 2017, from £13.50

Running Wild at The Lowry

All the amazing puppets, all the plot twists and all the emotions in this new production of Michael Murpurgo’s tale of a girl and an elephant fighting to survive.

22–23 March 2017, from £12.00

Berlin: Zvizdal

Chernobyl, April 26th 1986.
Due to the failure of a nuclear test and the explosion of a reactor, the life of the people living in and around Pripyat took a drastic turn.

Theatre 18 March 2017, from £12.00

Koen De Preter & Theater Stap: To Belong

We all want to belong – whether to a team, band or a relationship – but what does belonging really mean? A group of performers from Belgian troupe Theater Stap are about to find out.

Exhibitions 29 October 2016–26 February 2017, FREE

Perpetual Movement at The Lowry

A candle infused with 23 unique scents from space – including ‘burnt gunpowder’ for the moon and an ‘old penny’ for Mars – will be burnt at the finale of this major new exhibition at The Lowry. Part of a nationwide programme marking the Rambert dance company’s 90th anniversary, Perpetual Movement brings together work by international artists with objects, footage and costumes from the Rambert archives.

Theatre 9 March 2017, from £10.00

Liz Aggiss: Slap and Tickle at The Lowry

Slap and Tickle is a dark and ribald physical commentary on cultural mores, forays and sexual taboos.

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

Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style

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.

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