At long last, Manchester’s art scene – by which we mean art galleries, theatres, event spaces and more – is back open after months of tough lockdown measures. The past year has been a challenging time for arts venues and cultural spaces in Manchester and the North and now more than ever we need to show our support to the incredible venues that make up the cultural landscape of this great city.
We at Creative Tourist are proud to have played a role in alerting our culturally conscious readers about when these venues have reopened and the events they’re hosting. You can find a comprehensive list of all the North’s most vital venues across the website, big or small, covering all kinds of arts and entertainment, including theatre, live music, literature, film, food and drink, tours, family activities and more; as well as the must-visit events they’re hosting in the coming months.
It’s important to show a level of sensitivity and caution
Of course, while we’re delighted that these vital spaces are back open to the public, it’s important to show a level of sensitivity and caution. Some of the venues in our guide are taking things slower than others, such as the Royal Northern College Of Music, which is looking to September before they host live performances, and others still have some minor restrictions, such as a request to use certain entrances. Before you visit, we urge you to visit the venue’s website (linked to on each venue page below) and see what, if any, requests they may have.
This guide, and the continuing existence of Creative Tourist, was made possible due to the generous Culture Recovery Fund grants given out by Arts Council England. This has allowed us to continue our work as one of the North’s leading cultural hubs, as well as helped us expand to cover an even greater number of towns and cities across the North of England.
So if you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to the bounce back of Manchester’s arts scene, look no further. Discover exciting new exhibitions announced by revered spaces such as The Whitworth, Manchester Art Gallery and the Museum of Science and Industry, as well as the cutting-edge plans in place by more intimate but no less important venues such as Z-Arts and the People’s History Museum. And we’ll also look at the various events happening across the region, such as the city’s unmissable orchestra, Manchester Camerata.
It has been a tough old time, but we’re back, side by side and cannot wait for you to join us
But before you make your plans, please keep the following words from the Greater Manchester’s arts venues collective in mind:
As theatres and galleries across the city region begin to re-open their doors and spring to life once again, as a sector, we want to reassure audiences and visitors alike that your health and wellbeing is our utmost priority. No two venues will respond to the introduction of Stage 4 of the Government’s ‘Roadmap out of Lockdown’ in exactly the same way. Our venues are of different sizes, shapes and operate in different ways appropriate to the needs of those individual businesses.
What is consistent, however, is the thrill and excitement our artists, production companies, staff and volunteers feel at the thought of being able to share great art and culture with you again face to face. It has been a tough old time, but we’re back, side by side and cannot wait for you to join us.
Here are our picks
Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4FP - Visit now
The Science and Industry Museum’s reopening has brought with it an exciting new programme of events and exhibitions to take us through summer 2021 and beyond. It also marks the launch of a brand new Special Exhibitions Gallery – part of a multi-million-pound restoration programme currently underway at the globally significant industrial heritage site, which will reveal new spaces and perspectives for all visitors to enjoy, play and learn in. Don’t worry though, a bit of scaffolding aside, the venue is very much open, and bursting at the seams with fascinating things to explore.
Hope Mill Theatre, Hope Mill, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 7JA - Visit now
The Grade II-listed Hope Mill has been a standout success story for Manchester’s independent theatre scene, with a longstanding policy of relying solely on tickets sales and bar income to keep this important venue running and bringing vital productions to the New Islington and Ancoats area. After the enforced break, Hope Mill Theatre is now back open, bringing exciting fringe productions to Manchester’s thriving live scene.
Manchester Museum, The University Of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9PL - Visit now
Manchester Museum is now open, so you can visit this stunning building. Happily, all the Natural History galleries are open and free to visit, including the legendary Stan the T Rex and the Vivarium.
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 3JL - Visit now
The Charles Barry-designed, Grade I-listed Manchester Art Gallery is one of the city’s premier-league galleries, and, after closing its doors during lockdown, is welcoming visitors back once again. Inside, you can reconnect with old favourites from the collection and experience the new Introductory Gallery. You can also enjoy the 2021 iteration of Jerwood Makers Open, an exhibition launched in 2010 with the goal of recognising and promoting early-career artists by showcasing their work to the public.
National Football Museum, Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 3BG - Visit now
The National Football Museum is one of Manchester and the UK’s top attractions and we’re delighted that it’s now back open to the public. Originally based in Preston, The National Football Museum has been in Manchester for the best part of a decade now, making the famous Urbis building its own and welcoming nearly half a million visitors a year to the city’s attractive Medieval Quarter.
HOME Manchester, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4FN - Visit now
After over a year of national lockdown, HOME Manchester, the city’s leading multimedia and multi-purpose hub for the arts is now back open. The huge new temporary outdoor venue, HOMEground remains, which will provide a summer destination for people looking for low-risk enjoyment throughout the rest of the summer.
Contact Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6JA - Visit now
Contact Theatre has always been the place for emerging theatre, dance, spoken word, hip hop and digital performance mash-ups, and we’re delighted this vital space is back open. The new space houses a state-of-the-art recording studio, multiple performance and rehearsal spaces, and a dedicated, first-of-its-kind art and health area.
Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), 124 Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9RD - Visit now
Royal Northern College of Music is both a place of study and a highly-regarded performance venue, which means it’ll be September before they open their doors both to the students and the public for live performances. However, you can and should catch their online streamed events, which include live performances and interviews with talented musicians.
People’s History Museum in Manchester, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3ER - Visit now
People’s History Museum, home of ‘ideas worth fighting for’, is the only museum in the UK dedicated to the history of British democracy – and we’re delighted it is back open to the public. The museum’s brand new Open Kitchen Cafe & Bar, is also open for business, serving delicious ethical and sustainable food at this wonderful riverside location.
Manchester Central Library, St Peter's Square, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 5PD - Visit now
Manchester Central Library has reopened so now everyone can visit this wonderful venue. Following a recent makeover, the building looks even more beautiful than ever, ideal for those who wish to borrow books or simply relax in this stunning space.
The Stoller Hall, Hunts Bank, Manchester, M3 1DA - Visit now
The Stoller Hall has reopened with a series of successful live music events, taking place both in the evening and at lunchtime. And for those concerned about safety, as a newly built concert venue, the venue is lucky enough to have a state of the art air handling system which ensures air is not recirculated.
Z-arts, 335 Stretford Road, Manchester, M15 5ZA - Visit now
Based in Hulme, Z-arts is Manchester’s dedicated venue for families. They spent late-2020 making countless improvements to the cleaning and safety situation to ensure any risk of catching coronavirus was greatly reduced. This included renovating the toilets, marking queuing spots on the ground, a new ‘keep left’ system (ideal as a way to keep things simple for children) and a whole host of other smart ideas to make your visit as risk-free as possible. While theatre shows within the venue itself aren’t back on the cards just yet, Z-arts are putting on some great outdoor events in Hulme Park and at Homeground. The Tiger Who Came to Tea exhibition is now back on, and a host of new children’s classes have just been announced for the summer holidays.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Salford, Manchester, M50 3AZ - Visit now
The Lowry’s roadmap out of lockdown includes a range of exciting new exhibitions and events. The LS Lowry and Days Like These gallery exhibitions are running on Saturdays and Sundays until 29 August. The former displays the world’s largest public collection of paintings and drawings by LS Lowry, while Days Like These shares the stories of Salford in 2020 using paintings, photographs, films and poetry contributed by locals. There are a few expected changes to normal proceedings in the theatres, however there are plenty of socially distanced shows to dig into in the coming weeks and months.
Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 7DH - Visit now
One of Manchester’s most acclaimed theatre spaces, the Royal Exchange Theatre has reopened with Bloody Elle – A Gig Musical, the first in an exciting lineup of events and shows at this great venue throughout the rest of 2021.
Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 6FT - Visit now
The Palace Theatre has announced its post-lockdown plans and the good news is from August this year the venue will be reopening fully. This means we can expect the same peerless level of West End shows, along with some additional safety measures that should help make your evening out both risk-free and even a bit easier to navigate, with measures such as ‘click & collect’ food and beverage options.
Manchester Opera House, 3 Quay St, Manchester, M3 3HP - Visit now
Reopening in August, the revered Manchester Opera House is set to return to its acclaimed line-up of mainstream theatrical productions, occasional music gigs, opera and ballet. Inside the beautiful building, theatre-goers will have the same great experience as before. Standing proud on Quay Street, Manchester Opera House will continue to attract the very best in entertainment and we’re delighted to have it back.
Curated by Peter Hook alongside Camerata’s musical director Tim Crooks, The Sound Of Joy Division Orchestrated sees over fifty artists, musicians and guest vocalists come together to revisit the post-punk elements that shaped Joy Division’s groundbreaking sound, alongside with a full orchestra to project and respect the spirit of this legendary Manchester group.