Manchester has an incredible music history that has embraced everything from the classical excellence of the Hallé to the edgy pop of the Chemical Brothers and it’s the perfect place to catch some live music at its coolest venues like Gorilla, Rebellion, and the O2 Ritz.
For those who love a classical concert, Stoller Hall, next to Victoria Station, is part of Chetham’s School of Music, the UK’s largest specialist music school and the only one based in the north of England. It is a high-spec, flexible auditorium that can seat up to 482 concert-goers in the stalls, balcony and gallery.
Catch the latest bands at the Deaf Institute, Victoria Warehouse, Soup Kitchen and the Academy or a stadium gig at the Manchester Arena. The Rem Koolhaas-designed Factory, a £110m groundbreaking new multi-arts venue is scheduled to open in 2021 but it is already having an impact, proving the catalyst for world-class companies to make an appearance in the city showcasing the kinds of work that we can expect there. The Factory will be home for the Manchester International Festival an extravaganza of new commissions and which in 2019 included work by David Lynch, Yoko Ono and Laurie Anderson.
Manchester is renowned for having more theatres than anywhere else outside London with HOME, a £25m purpose-built centre for international contemporary art, theatre, film and books, the place to catch film and theatre. At the other end of the spectrum, Hope Mill Theatre in the trendy Ancoats area of the city is one of the most successful and reputable independent venues in England – winning Fringe Venue of The Year at The Stage awards in 2018.
In the city centre, the Palace and the Opera House are where to see the big theatre shows. Traditionally, they were always the try-out theatres for productions heading to the West End so Manchester audiences were always the first to catch famous stars treading the boards before they went anywhere else, and this is still happening.
For those who love a classical concert, Stoller Hall, next to Victoria Station, is part of Chetham’s School of Music, the UK’s largest specialist music school and the only one based in the north of England
The Lowry, on Salford Quays, and the Royal Exchange are also world-acclaimed venues staging everything from Shakespeare to stand-up comedy. But there are many other places to check out new theatre and cutting edge performance ranging from the Contact Theatre to Three Minute Theatre at Afflecks Arcade and Salford Arts Theatre. Outside the city there’s Bolton Octagon, Sale’s Waterside Theatre, Pyramid and Parr Hall, all delivering quality live entertainment.
The one thing Manchester isn’t is elitist. Its art galleries, such as the award-winning Whitworth, part of Manchester University, welcome everyone, from small children to art lovers or those who just love the peace and quiet of its art garden.
The University itself is housed inside the neo-Gothic Alfred Waterhouse-designed campus on Oxford Road, where you could catch a public lecture or a concert at the student union. This is also the location of Manchester Museum, a treasure trove of over four million objects and a full sized replica skeleton of a T Rex, nicknamed ‘Stan’ as well as The Gallery of Costume, which holds one of the most important fashion collections in the UK.
A walk down Oxford Road brings you to the Contact Theatre an innovative performance space and to the Manchester School of Art, the largest art school outside London. Also on campus is the Sir Kenneth Green library which contains 175 years’ worth of art and design, from rare children’s books to Victorian ephemera.
Manchester’s art galleries, such as the award-winning Whitworth, welcome everyone, from small children to art lovers or those who just love the peace and quiet of its art garden
Lovers of libraries can explore Manchester’s Central Library on St Peter’s Square, a grand building with a magisterial entrance that was updated a few years ago so that now it not only houses a magnificent book collection but boasts state-of-the-art technology. The refurbished Reading Room is where the archives are to be found alongside new digital interactive features and if you need to access information or send an email, this is the perfect place to come and surf the web.
Chetham’s Library is the oldest free public library in the English speaking world and has its home in the renowned music school that has produced world-class musicians, while the stunning John Rylands Library is a beautiful neo-Gothic delight incongruously placed on the busy shopping and partying area of Deansgate, with an interior that is truly stunning.
Manchester is famed for its long-running soap opera Coronation Street which used to be filmed in the city but has now decamped to MediaCityUK, Salford, home to the BBC in the North. This is a prime location for film and TV programmes and a good place to star spot but it is also here you’ll find The Lowry which is worth visiting for the largest collection in the world of its LS Lowry paintings.
The area around Salford Quays has an illustrious history as the former docklands, now home to the stunning Imperial War Museum North, which was designed by world-renowned Daniel Libeskind to represent a globe shattered by conflict. It reveals how war shapes lives through its powerful 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.
The refurbished Reading Room is where the archives are to be found alongside new digital interactive features and if you need to access information or send an email