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Things to see and do in Manchester: our top picks

By Kingfisher Visitor Guides

The buzzing city of Manchester offers so many exciting things to see and do, it's difficult to pick just a few. Check out our top picks below!

Admire breathtaking architecture

Check out the Gothic turreted beauty of the John Rylands Library on Deansgate, take a tour of the neo-Gothic Town Hall, stand in the majestic presence of the cathedral which survived the Blitz or visit Chetham’s School of Music and the first free public library, a regular rendezvous for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels which dates back to 1655.

Visit fantastic museums and galleries

Whether it’s the pre-Raphaelite collection at Manchester Art Gallery, golden mummies at the Manchester Museum, contemporary art at the Whitworth and Lowry or steam engines at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester has enough to exhaust even the most inquisitive mind.

Join Pride

Manchester Pride Festival is the flagship event which takes over the city every year across the August Bank Holiday weekend in celebration of LGBTQ+ life. The festival hosts a variety of events – some are free to attend and others require you to purchase a ticket.

Fabulous shopping

Manchester has a hugely diverse offering of retail pleasures from home-grown designers Vivienne Westwood and Vicky Martin, via WAG emporiums, Selfridges and Harvey Nics, through to the ludicrously luxurious Hermès and finally on to the eclectic mix of independent stores nestling in the trendy Northern Quarter, where you’ll find vintage hideaways and the Aladdin’s cave, Afflecks.

Interior of Selfridges Manchester Trafford, lots of clothes and gifts on offer

Indulge at Selfridges in the Trafford Centre

Take a stadium tour

On the Manchester United Museum & Stadium Tour, you can walk through the players’ tunnel and take a seat in the dugouts, then soak up the view from the Ability Platform. If blue is more your colour, make a beeline for the Etihad Stadium. It’s all about state-of-the-art technology here, with a 360-degree cinema attraction and an audio-visual experience in the First Team changing room.

Immerse yourself in live music

Classical or modern, much of the greatest music around originated in the city. From the internationally acclaimed Hallé orchestra, the Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic through to Oasis, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, The Smiths, Take That, The Ting Tings and Elbow, this city is simply oozing with musical creativity and there is an abundance of live music venues showcasing the best local talent.

Live musical performance, Hallé Orchestra

Watch the fantastic Hallé Orchestra perform

Enjoy a night out

Manchester’s nightlife scene truly has something for everybody. Whether you want to chill out to live jazz at Matt & Phreds, catch an indie band at Manchester Academy or attend an event at the famous Warehouse Project, you’ll have the time of your life. For those who want a leisurely stroll from bar to bar, the Gay Village welcomes everyone.

Dine in style

When you fancy splashing out on fine dining or sampling exotic dishes from across the globe, Manchester delivers mouthwatering menus. Our highlights include Mana, MUSU, Gaucho steak restaurant, The Ivy Spinningfields and WOOD Manchester.

Food at Wood Restaurant, Manchester

WOOD Manchester offers meals made with top-quality produce

Attend a festival

No matter when you visit Manchester, there’s always a festival or event happening. The city’s largest music festival is Parklife, held in Heaton Park each June. Don’t miss out on the Manchester Jazz Festival if culture and music go hand in hand for you. Or, for movie buffs, The Manchester Film Festival and the Banff Mountain Festival screen films by creatives from around the world.

Check out Central Library

Located at St Peter’s Square in the city centre, Central Library was designed by E Vincent Harris and constructed between 1930 and 1934. This Grade 2-listed building has since been brought into the 21st century, combining historic features with cutting-edge design.

Read more

History and heritage of Manchester

The best retailers and independent stores in Manchester

5 of the best cultural gems to see in Manchester

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Image credits: ©dudlajzov/; LFJPR; Louis Cannell/WOOD Manchester; Manchester Art Gallery; Matt Eachus/; The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

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