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10 Special Things To Do In Manchester

Updated on December 3, 2013

Welcome to Manchester!

Welcome to this quick, impartial guide to what to do in Manchester. From theatres and museums to bars and shops, the city has something for everyone. Please add your own ideas about things to do and places to go in Manchester in the comment box. Thanks for reading!

There's more photos of Manchester at my website, North Shore: Pictures of Manchester.

The Manchester Wheel (RIP)

Manchester Wheel
Manchester Wheel

This picture shows the ferris wheel, sadly now dismantled, reflected in the glass frontage of Selfridges. (c) Geoff Steen 2010

Royal Exchange Theatre
Royal Exchange Theatre

10 special things to do in Manchester

1. See a beautiful building for free

See a play at the Royal Exchange, pictured right, or just go in for free for a look around. A fantastic juxtaposition of Victorian architecture and high-tech theatre, with round seating bringing a real immediacy to the performances. Click here to find out what's currently on: Royal Exchange.

2. Feed the ducks

Wander around the Castlefield Basin, a network of canals, cobbles and restaurants. Sun yourself on a bench (if the weather allows), watch the ducks and geese, and decide which barge you'd live in if you had one. Then go to Duke's 92, a bar and restaurant housed in a converted old stable block, for speciality cheese and pate (they have over forty varieties, served with freshly baked bread). Click here for the Duke's 92 website: Duke's 92.

3. Go up 23 stories for a spectacular view

Jump up and down on the glass ceiling in Cloud 23. The bar itself is pretty ordinary, but the view (from the 23rd floor of the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate) is spectacular. The cocktail list is good too; it includes well-made classics and plenty of original recipes with a Mancunian theme (my wife recommends the Sally Cinnamon). Click here for the Cloud 23 website: Cloud 23.

4. See another beautiful building for free

Be dazzled by the splendour of John Rylands Library. Built in the Gothic style in the 1890s, the Library is dramatic, beautiful and free to go inside. As well as housing special collections of books, the Library also holds free exhibitions. One of its most awe-inspiring artefacts is the St John fragment, the earliest known fragment of the New Testament in any language. Less than nine centimetres high, on one side the papyrus contains parts of verses 31-33, on the other side parts of verses 37-38 of the eighteenth chapter of John's Gospel. Click here for the page on the library from the Manchester University website: John Rylands Library.

5. Marvel at ancient artefacts

Gawp at the Ancient Egyptian mummies in Manchester Museum. The Museum has one of the world's best displays of mummies, along with their coffins and funerary goods. Click here for the page on the museum from the Manchester University website: Manchester Museum.

6. Have a really good feed in authentic Victorian surroundings

Go to Mr Thomas's Chop House for brown onion soup (cooked for 36 hours) and corned beef hash (ten days in the making) served in an original 19th century pub. Best done whilst wearing something with an elasticated waistband or you'll never get to the pudding menu. Click here for Mr Thomas's website: Mr Thomas's Chophouse.

7. Let your hair down

Dance like mad, in a very small room full of friendly people, at The Star & Garter's Smiths Disco. You can dance exactly how you want all night, without anyone batting an eyelid. The Smiths Disco is on the first Friday of every month; it's £5 on the door but make sure you get there early-ish to get in as it can fill up quickly. Click here for the Star & Garter website: The Star & Garter.

8. Relive your grungy student days

Mooch with the teenagers at Affleck's Palace (now apparently called Afflecks but it doesn't sound quite the same), amongst the vintage clothing and unusual accessories. And that shop where everyone bought their Joy Division posters in the 1980s is still going! Click here for the Affleck's website: Affleck's.

9. Visit the markets

Manchester City Council have a programme of specialist markets running throughout the year, selling art, fresh produce, crafts and much more. The Christmas market is particularly well known, and runs every year from November. Click here for the Council's website on the markets: Manchester Markets.

10. Have an unpretentious night out

Wonder at the miracle that is the Ape & Apple on John Dalton Street: good bitter from Joseph Holt at around £2 a pint! And a jukebox! Blimey! The Ape & Apple doesn't have its own website, but there is more information on the brewery website: Joseph Holt.

Gothic splendour in Manchester

John Rylands Library (c) Copyright Geoff Steen

Old meets new in Manchester

The Great Northern (c) Copyright Geoff Steen.

Good books about Manchester

These are the books about Manchester which have entertained me the most.

The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club
The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club

Peter Hook's account of his involvement in the legendary Hacienda nightclub. Hilarious, tragic and eye-popping, frequently on the same page at once.

 
Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North
Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North

Stuart Marconi's funny and thought-provoking exploration of the North of England.

 
Manchester: Looking for the Light Through the Pouring Rain
Manchester: Looking for the Light Through the Pouring Rain

Iconic photographs by Kevin Cummins (who took those classic images of Joy Division on the bridge in Hulme), chronicling the city and its pop history.

 
Manchester in the 70's
Manchester in the 70's

Filled with photographs of the changing city of the 70s, this book is a real piece of nostalgia for those of us who remember Manchester as it was then.

 

Interesting websites to go to from here

Here is a list of some good Manchester-related websites

Places you like in Manchester or just general comments...

Please share your ideas on what to do in Manchester

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    • GoodGirlSEO profile image

      GoodGirlSEO 4 years ago

      You make Manchester look beautiful!

    • jacquiobrien profile image

      jacquiobrien 4 years ago

      Great lens! I used to live in Manchester, it is a fantastic city and these are some great things to do there.

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 4 years ago

      @SheilaMilne: That's a brilliant idea! I'll add it if they ever do. Thank you!

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      If they ever re-open the Victoria Baths that would be worth a visit. Maybe they still do Heritage Days?

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 5 years ago

      @Cherry_Tree: Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      Cherry_Tree 5 years ago

      Wow, fantastic pics of Manchester!! Love them.

    • profile image

      Soluxapartments 5 years ago

      Great hotel alternative, serviced apartments Manchester

      www.soluxapartments.com

    • profile image

      jazziyarbrough 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, I have never been to Manchester. If I went I would like to visit the markets.

    • kranjchko lm profile image

      kranjchko lm 5 years ago

      Go on a Manchester United match ! :D

    • PamelaU profile image

      PamelaU 5 years ago

      Visit Chorlton-cum-Hardy for a mooch round this little boho area.

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 5 years ago

      @tjecity: Thanks for the tip!

    • profile image

      tjecity 5 years ago

      Great lens page of Manchester. We have been on an underground tunnel walk in Manchester and would recommend it. http://www.newmanchesterwalks.com do lots of walks in Manchester and is worth checking out.

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 6 years ago

      @makingamark: Oh yes, that's a really good point! The Pre-Raphaelites ar great.

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 6 years ago from London

      Very nice lens and some great photos! Blessed by a Squid Angel and added to my lens about UK travel lenses - The Best of the UK - see http://www.squidoo.com/best-of-uk

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 6 years ago from London

      I forgot to add - the Manchester Art Gallery in Mosley Streetis pretty good too! see http://www.manchestergalleries.org/

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 6 years ago

      Great lens

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Graham, thanks for your comments. The Arora Hotel is a little gem; it's bright, modern, central and far less expensive than its competitors. And there's usually Top Secret hotel deals on lastminute.com too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Went to Manchester last Summer but wish I'd seen this guide first, ended up spending a lot of time floating about the shops with my kids. I plan to come again soon and see a football match, are there any good deals out there, esp. if it's last minute? I spent too little time planning last year and had to stay in a grotty hotel by Manchester airport.

    • manchester lm profile image

      manchester lm 6 years ago

      The Manchester International Festival is on right now. 18 days of cultural, literary and general fun activity. Well worth a trip!!

    • profile image

      LensSeller 6 years ago

      Great lens about one of my favourite cities.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 6 years ago

      Manchester looks fabulous! Thumbs up on this lens.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I haven't really been to Manchester, lots of things to do there. I would like to visit the Maritime Museum someday as they have records pertaining to my Grandfather's voyages.

    • BelindaBlevins profile image

      BelindaBlevins 6 years ago

      great lens, and great photographs.

    • profile image

      VayaViva 6 years ago

      great lends about our great old city.............

      manchester web design

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You make Manchester sound very inviting with your special list! I absolutely love your photography.

    • profile image

      JHFSEO 6 years ago

      London gets all the attention, but it sounds like no one should miss Manchester, to get away from the bustle a bit, and still have some creature comforts. So much more than just two Premier League teams, and your photography really makes this lens I agree with others, though, feature more of your photography! Nice work!

    • malloryjane profile image

      malloryjane 6 years ago

      Stunning photography, off to check out your website now!

    • ClinicallySigni profile image

      ClinicallySigni 6 years ago

      Awesome lens with great photography and photos! Congrats on a great job!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the introduction to Manchester and your photography!

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 6 years ago

      @ZablonMukuba: Hi Zablon, you're right! I'm working on a lens on Old Trafford as we speak...

    • ZablonMukuba profile image

      ZablonMukuba 6 years ago

      you didn't talk about the stadia that are there

    • Sensational Color profile image

      Kate Smith 6 years ago from Ashburn, VA

      Nicely done. Now I have lots to do if I ever get there :-)

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 6 years ago

      @LizMac60: Thanks Liz, a welcome is welcome at any time! I think you're right about the pictures - I sell my images for a living and am always afraid of them being copied - but I'm working on inserting just a few larger, less commercial ones to make my lenses look more interesting.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Sorry, welcomed you on the last lens didn't realise you had been here much longer than me. I see you are a minimalist and why not, we all need to enjoy Squidoo our own way. But I would like to see bigger photos of your work.

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 6 years ago

      @Geeve: Hi Geeve,

      Good tip, thank you. Still getting the hang of it on here!

    • profile image

      Geeve 6 years ago

      Hi Geoff,

      Interesting observations on Manchester and I have lensrolled it to my "What's happening in Manchester" lens. Why don't you use some of your pictures to make this lens even more interesting?

    • GeoffSteen profile image
      Author

      GeoffSteen 6 years ago

      @Grasmere Sue: You're quite right! I was thinking of doing something just about food and the Yang Sing would be a must.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 6 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I'd add - go the the Yang Sing! The most amazing Chinese restaurant.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wow!

      I like your lens, very useful and inspiring. thank you.

      -----------------------------

      Paid surveys etc Review

    • profile image

      Beemer 8 years ago

      Ape & Apple sounds good. Believe it was refurbed last year?

    • profile image

      Mozzarella 8 years ago

      Some really good ideas! I would like to add: melon martinis in Opus One. Yum!

    • profile image

      Mozzarella 8 years ago

      Great ideas - love the Smiths Disco! I'd also add Smile night at the Star & Garter as well.