Salford Quays visit britain WIDE
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

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Theatre 21 January–04 February 2017 , from £18.00

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time @ The Lowry

Personally I’m not a massive fan of big stage blockbuster productions, but I will make an exception for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is one of the stage shows I have ever seen.

Rich Hall
Comedy 12–15 December 2016 , from £19.50

Rich Hall: Hoedown 2016 at The Lowry

When your brain is being bombarded with Christmas carols and force-fed festive cheer you need an antidote – something to take the edge off. Look no further than the deadpan delivery of Rich Hall.

Taken with iPhone 6 (GSM+CDMA),iOS 9.1
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.

Lightwaves 2016
Exhibitions 09–18 December 2016 , FREE

Lightwaves 2016 at The Quays

The UK’s biggest digital light festival returns to The Quays – bringing 198 illuminated boats, flying installations and Dr. Who Daleks with it. Interactive, free, and like nothing else in Manchester’s cultural calendar – Lightwaves 2016 is not to be missed.

Exhibitions 27 May 2016–01 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.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Theatre 06 December 2016–15 January 2017 , from £29.00

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Starring Jason Manford (The Producers, Sweeney Todd) as Caractacus Potts, Claire Sweeney (Tell Me on A Sunday, Hairspray) as Baroness Bomburst, and Phill Jupitus (The Producers, Hairspray) as Lord Scrumptious/Baron Bomburst.

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