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5 of the best cultural gems to see in Manchester

Jam-packed with architectural gems and thought-provoking museums, Manchester is the perfect arts and culture destination. Make the most of your visit to Manchester with these five great cultural attractions.


Imperial War Museum North

The area around Salford Quays is an important part of Manchester‘s cultural history and is now home to the stunning Imperial War Museum North, which was designed by world-renowned Daniel Libeskind to represent a globe shattered by conflict.

Imperial War Museum North at Salford Quays in Manchester

Imperial War Museum North is a world-leading museum on conflict and its impact

It reveals how war shapes lives through its powerful, cultural exhibitions, though its best-kept secret is the viewing platform from which you can get a bird’s eye view of the Quays, now transformed into a lively leisure destination.

Imperial War Museum North was designed by world-renowned Daniel Libeskind to represent a globe shattered by conflict

Elizabeth Gaskell

Manchester has a literary heritage, claiming as its own writers such as Thomas de Quincy, Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess, Elizabeth Gaskell and Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson and it has a flourishing literary scene fuelled by the annual Literature Festival, held in October.

The restored Victorian house once lived in by Elizabeth Gaskell

Celebrate the life and literature of Elizabeth Gaskell, Manchester’s most famous Victorian writer

Literature lovers can immerse themselves in the world of Elizabeth Gaskell at her house on Plymouth Grove, which opened in 2014, or join in discussions and screenings at the Anthony Burgess Foundation on Cambridge Street.

The Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry on the site of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station on Liverpool Road pays homage to some of this industrial past with its mill engines, textile machinery and historical costumed characters who bring the city’s cultural past to life.

Architectural gems

Manchester’s architectural gems are in evidence all over the city and not only is there an impressive collection of Victorian buildings, but interesting new additions designed by contemporary architects. On Deansgate, for example, the 1900 Gothic sandstone John Rylands Library has a beautiful modern extension that complements the original building.

Manchester Town Hall, across in Albert Square, is unmissable, a neo-Gothic masterpiece completed in 1887 by Alfred Waterhouse. In the Grand Hall on the first floor it’s possible to take a look at the magnificent pre-Raphaelite Murals by Ford Madox Brown.

Cultural events

If you need an excuse to visit the city, you can check out the calendar of calendar of cultural events that includes its jazz festival in May with free stages, food stalls and festival bars, the sell-out Parklife festival at Heaton Park in June and the Manchester Art Fair in October. In October there are also festivals for food, comedy, science and film. The August Bank Holiday is legendary as Manchester Pride weekend but it also brings with it a whole extra arts festival strand. There’s the IndieFlicks short film festival on the first Monday of every month and outdoor cinema at Screenfields, Spinningfields throughout the summer.


Visit Imperial War Museum North

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Image credits: ©Michael D Beckwith/Pixabay; Shahid A Khan/stock.adobe.com; Shutterstock.com; The John Rylands Library; Video: Imperial War Museums/YouTube

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