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

Dance 14 September–1 November 2017,

The Lowry Autumn Season 2017

The Lowry’s Contemporary season pays scant regard to the traditional genre boundaries of dance, theatre and visual art.

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 are internationally renowned dance artists who create mesmerising shows celebrating human life.

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.

Music 28–29 October 2017, from £20.00

Transformer 2 at Victoria Warehouse

Event series Transformer returns to Victoria Warehouse for its second one-day festival outing – featuring Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Liars, Ben Frost and Omar Souleyman across two stages, plus cinema, digital funfair, record stalls and food trucks.

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?

Families 1–27 August 2017, from £13.75

Room on the Broom at The Lowry

Join the adventures of the Witch and her cat in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

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.

Dance 26–27 October 2017, from £12.00

Superposition at The Lowry

Superposition will take you down a rabbit hole of physics: from the quantum world of the tiny to the expanses of the universe – via a lap dancing club.

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