Manchester is be best known for its musical legacy, having gifted the world the likes of the Stone Roses, the Smiths and legendary club the Hacienda. But don’t get hung up on the past, our pick of the best things to do in Manchester right now shows this city’s evolving at a staggering pace, with the list of utterly brilliant things to see, eat and do here growing much, much quicker than you can tick them off.
We really can’t stress enough how major Manchester’s music scene is. These fertile red-brick streets have birthed the likes of Oasis, The Smiths, Chemical Brothers, Take That (oh yes) and M People – to name but a modest handful. Given the city’s open-mindedness, bands of all genres have made it and continue to make it here, so no visit would be complete without a trip to at least one live gig. We’d recommend catching an up-and-comer at one of the city’s many brilliant small venues. Dance to some locally grown talent at the sweaty, subterranean Soup Kitchen, or sink some rooftop cocktails before seeing a top band at Manchester’s hottest new music venue, YES. Read more
Ready to throw some shapes? Good, because it’s no exaggeration to say that Manchester’s Warehouse Project is one of the world’s most celebrated night-out destinations. The clubbing series’s phenomenal success has propelled its move from the disused Boddingtons brewery near Strangeways prison to a Second World War air raid shelter underneath Manchester Piccadilly station, with various stops in-between.
Visiting an art gallery or two is standard fare when you take a trip to any city. There’s nothing standard, however, about what’s on offer in Manchester. This Northern city is jam-packed with top art galleries, but take to the streets and you’ll come upon mind-blowing street art throughout the Northern Quarter, surely Manchester’s most happening area. Many of the bigger pieces were created for Cities of Hope, a festival celebrating street art which makes statements on social issues, like Dale Grimshaw’s ‘War Children’ on Spear Street, dedicated to people fighting for independence in West Papua. Read more
When it opened way back in 1906, Victoria Baths was described as the ‘most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country’. It’s a swanky swimming pool all right and, when it closed in 1993, everything from the ornate Edwardian tiles to the retro pool-side changing rooms were perfectly preserved. Now, it hosts some of the best events in the city, the empty pools filled with antiques fairs and food festivals. The best of the bunch is the Independent Manchester Beer Convention, one of the country’s leading beer festivals. Read more
Independent record stores such as Vinyl Exchange, Eastern Bloc and Piccadilly Records have been supplying Mancs with good tunes for years, and have become world-renowned for their collections. There are some gems outside the city centre, too. A quick trip to Burnage, for example, and you’ll find Sifters, immortalised in the Oasis song ‘Shakermaker’, while over the way in Chorlton, Kingbee Records offers a treasure trove of rare cuts among the Wet Wet Wet and Meat Loaf albums nobody wants any more.
The first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union, later known as the Suffragettes, took place in Manchester, in what’s now known as the Pankhurst Centre. This inspiring events and community centre gives visitors a glimpse into a key part of political history, while engaging regular events give a taste of what’s to come next. Book now
It’s no secret Manchester’s food scene is growing at an incredible rate, and a restaurant tour of Ancoats is the best place to start exploring it. Formerly known as little Italy due to the influx of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, it seems fitting that one of the first game-changing restaurants in recent years was Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza. Manchester’s first Michelin-starred restaurant since 1977. Read more