If you were born to shop, or simply want to track down something unusual, Manchester has pretty much everything. From department store giants like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols to the smallest independent boutique, you won’t leave empty-handed.
As well as all the major high street stores, and the revamped Arndale Centre, you’ll find:
- The Triangle Centre
- Designer shopping down King Street
- The Northern Quarter, with Affleck’s Palace and independent record shops such as Piccadilly Records and Fat City Records
- The Trafford Centre, with over 250 retail outlets
There are regular farmers’ markets selling fresh, local produce, plus seasonal European and international markets visit the city - a chance to pick up something a bit different.
Chinatown offers lots of great ethnic shops selling everything from East Asian food to silk fabrics and calligraphy pens.
Spend some time wandering around Manchester’s independent record and book shops, or pop into the Buddhist centre store to stock up on yoga and relaxation accessories.
Art and museums
The University of Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery exhibits a rolling programme of art, sculpture and textiles. Art isn’t confined to galleries here in Manchester, it’s a part of everyday life and is celebrated in a variety of festivals.
The Lowry in Salford Quays houses an excellent collection of LS Lowry, as well as being a first class music and theatre venue.
The award-winning Manchester Art Gallery, which has undergone a £25m refurbishment, hosts a range of exhibitions, or for something a little different, head for the contemporary Cube gallery or the new Chinese Arts Centre, which showcases East Asian contemporary art.
Manchester’s museums are world class. Located on campus is the University’s own Manchester Museum, which like many in the city, offers free entry.
The Imperial War Museum North is one of the city’s newest attractions and the building itself - an incredible stainless steel construction - is well worth a visit.
The award winning Museum of Science and Industry, and Urbis, a state-of-the-art museum of the modern city, are a great way to spend an afternoon, whilst The People’s Museum in Spinningfields celebrates the role people have played in industrial and post-industrial Britain.
Quick links: Whitworth Art Gallery | The Lowry | Manchester Art Gallery | Manchester Museum | Imperial War Museum North | Museum of Science and Industry | Urbis
Nightlife & entertainment
Music and movement
For a city once termed ‘Madchester’ (courtesy of local lads, Happy Mondays) it will come as no surprise that Manchester takes its music scene very seriously. From the explosion of punk in the mid-70s with The Buzzcocks, there has been a procession of local bands that have had a huge impact on the UK and world popular music. Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses and The Charlatans are just a few that have made their mark, whilst the acid house years of the late 80s and 90s marked Manchester out as a place to head to for a good time, with the iconic (but sadly defunct) Factory club the number one destination.
Not surprisingly, there are plenty of places to enjoy live music, from young and unsigned bands taking their first steps at venues such as the Academy, The Deaf Institute, and the Night and Day café, to those who have already conquered the world, with the MEN Arena and the City of Manchester stadium playing host to local heroes, such as Doves. There are club nights for every taste, every day of the week. Boogie on down at nights such as Love Train at the Ritz, or be a little more adventurous and venture slightly off the beaten musical track by heading to one of the city’s many specialist music nights.
For the more traditional, the Hallé orchestra plays regularly at the Bridgewater Hall, alongside more surprising acts like Morrissey, and the Manchester Opera House sees classic productions such as Rigoletto and Madame Butterfly feature alongside Jerry Springer - The Opera and the Rocky Horror Show. Various festivals, from jazz to dance to world music are also scheduled through the year.
Dedicated clubbers will not be disappointed, with a quality line-up for every night of the week - if there’s a name for it, there’s a club-night that plays it. Sankeys Soap is the number one destination for visiting superstar DJs, whilst venues such as South, Matt & Phred’s, Music Box, and Mojo maintain the city’s eclectic reputation.
Whether you like sweet popcorn with Hollywood blockbusters or prefer salted popcorn with something a little more challenging on the art house circuit, you won’t be disappointed. Several large multiplexes dot the city, whilst the Cornerhouse is an excellent independent cinema, with the added attractions of a bar and art gallery. Film buffs and budding film-makers can also enjoy Kinofilm, the Manchester International Short Film Festival.
Manchester has a long history in the dramatic arts, and that’s set to continue with venues such as The Royal Exchange, the Lowry, Manchester Opera House, The Palace and The Green Room staging a whole range of plays and shows which reflect the huge range of cultural tastes and appetites of the region’s largest city.
Comedy has moved on a lot since the heyday of the old stand-ups of the 1970s, and Manchester boasts a thriving and sophisticated comedy scene which tickles the most demanding funny bones. From the big gigs at the Lowry to more intimate (and cheaper) venues such as XS Malarkey at Remedy in the student stronghold of Castlefield, there’s always someone who will try their best to make you forget about that essay you should be writing. The really brave can even have a go on open mic nights - and risk their reputation at the hands of the merciless local crowd.
Living in Manchester
Truly multicultural Manchester caters for students from all cultures and backgrounds. We have excellent and affordable crèche facilities for students with children, whilst various student groups provide a social focus for mature students.
Manchester has an excellent public transport network. The bus service to and from the School from all areas of the city is quick and frequent, with discounted student rates and a limited night service. There’s also a tram service from various parts of the city into the centre, with plans for further development. A regular train service provides access to the city centre from further afield, as well as running to the airport.
Cycling is encouraged in Manchester, with cycle lanes on most busy routes, whilst taxis are easily available for emergencies, late nights or just if you’re in a hurry.
With its European-style squares and diversity of cultures, Manchester is a great place to eat out. Pavement-side cafes and bars are perfect for a laid-back lunchtime in the city. You can choose from any nationality at any price, from celebrity chefs to cheap kebabs.
Chefs such as Gary Rhodes, Paul Heathcote and Marco Pierre White have added the city to their menu.
You can choose from all kinds of cuisine: Rusholme’s ‘curry mile’ attracts 15,000 diners every week; Manchester’s Chinatown is the largest in Britain; in short, there is everything in Manchester from African to vegan food.
Manchester has led the cafe bar revolution and has more entries in the Good Food Guide than any other city outside London.
Bars and cafés
There’s a place for everyone, whether you fancy a quiet pint on your way back from uni, or you’re looking to celebrate Friday night in one of the distinct districts dotted around the centre. You can explore the burgeoning Northern Quarter with its explosion of new bars, the well-established Deansgate Locks area catering to a dressier crowd, or experience the hedonistic rush of Manchester’s well-established gay village.
There’s also an established café society in the city for those who still like their drinks strong, but non-alcoholic. Cafés and bistros spill out into the many public areas of the city centre, and continue to thrive in more outlying districts such as Didsbury and Chorlton where you can while away a sunny afternoon people-watching.
Religions and faiths
Manchester is home to people of many religions and faiths, and there are places of worship for all religions over the city, as well as dedicated religious clubs and societies within the Student’s Union.
On campus there are two chaplaincy centres for the major Christian faiths. St Peter’s House provides chaplains for the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed churches, while the Roman Catholic chaplaincy is at Avila House. There are two prayer rooms provided on campus and there are a number of mosques located near the university and student areas.
The city centre is also home to Buddhist centres, Jewish synagogues, and facilities for Sikh and Hindu worship close to student halls of residence.