Bridgewater Hall

Things to do in Manchester | Bridgewater Hall

Mancunians are mad about their music, so it’s no wonder the city has some of the best concert venues around. And one of its most prestigious is the iconic Bridgewater Hall. Widely regarded as one of the finest concert halls in the world, Bridgewater Hall is famous for its magnificent 5,500 pipe-organ - a huge blend of wood and burnished metal that dominates the back wall of the auditorium. Besides the magnificent organ, the acoustics here are the stuff of legend. The 2,400-seat auditorium is built on a foundation of gigantic springs and earthquake-proof bearings to prevent outside noise disturbing your musical enjoyment. And, as you’ll learn if you decide to go on a fascinating guided tour of the building, so effective is the sound-proofing that construction workers didn’t even hear the 1996 IRA bomb that broke every window in the city centre.

With such a pristine sound, it’s no surprise that world-class musicians from a wide range of genres flock to play here. Bridgewater Hall hosts over 250 performances a year and it’s not unusual to have Elbow, Kraftwerk and Iron and Wine performing in the same season. But it’s the classical musical programme the venue is best known for. Not one, but three orchestras - the BBC Philharmonic, Hallé and Manchester Camerata - call Bridgewater Hall their home.

If you’re coming to Bridgewater Hall to see a show, booking into a Manchester hotel means you can really make a night of it. The Premier Inn Manchester Central is only a minute’s walk from the iconic venue, and its extra-comfy kingsize Hypnos beds are ready and waiting whenever you want to bring the curtain down on your night out.

Bridgewater Hall

Bridgewater Hall


What's on

This international concert venue was built with one purpose in mind - to give Manchester the best possible space for music. Here’s a little glimpse of what to expect.

Concerts
A vast range of concerts are on offer, from spoken word performers such as Dr John Cooper Clarke to dance spectaculars from the stars of Strictly. But it’s classical music the Hall is best known for, and it has regular concerts from the Halle and the BBC Philharmonic.

Midday concerts
Taking in a lunchtime performance of classical music, from renowned pianists to string quartets, is a great way to see Bridgewater Hall (and hear its fabulous acoustics) at a fraction of the cost. Most can be paid for on the day and cost as little as £10 per person.

Guided tours
See behind the scenes and learn all about the venue’s history as you’re taken on a tour to parts of the building not usually open to the public. Led by entertaining tour guides, the one and a half hour tours take place most Mondays throughout the year at 11am, and cost £5 per adult.

Family events
There are plenty of events the kids will love. There are music-making sessions designed just for babies and toddlers, more relaxed classical performances for children and young adults with special needs called Be Hear Now and special family performances from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.


Top tip

Don’t miss Manchester’s finest piece of public art, which sits just outside Bridgewater Hall on Barbirolli Square. Kan Yasuda's 'Ishinki Stone' was installed in 1996 to celebrate the opening of the venue, and it’s well worth a look.


Essential information

Made from solid, reinforced concrete, Bridgewater Hall is molded to look like a vast sculpture with a roof that almost seems to hover above. Pretty impressive from the outside, and once inside you’ll find it has all the things you need to make your concert an enjoyable experience.

You’ll find Bridgewater Hall at Lower Mosley St, Manchester M2 3WS. Ticket bookings can be made online, by phone on 0161 907 9000 or in person at the box office. Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm, the box office is only open on Sundays from midday to 6pm on concert nights. The foyer will be open 90 minutes before the concerts start and the Stalls Cafe Bar is open on matinee and midday performance days, too.

The purpose-built auditorium has great facilities. You’ll find plenty of toilets, a cafe and restaurant and a great gift shop. The Bridgewater Hall shop sells unique jewellery, CDs, photographic prints and branded  tote bags and posters. What’s more, there are often CD signings at the shop so you can take home a personalised, one-of-a-kind CD gift for yourself or a loved one who’s a super fan!

There are plenty of family-friendly concerts and events that offer discounted family tickets. But just be aware that everyone needs a ticket, no matter how old or young they are! However, Bridgewater Hall does not allow babies and pre-school children into its formal classical concerts, and asks that older children should only be brought if they can concentrate for the duration of the performance without disturbing others.

Both the main entrance and the box office entrance have level access from Lower Mosley Street, with automatic doors at the box office. There’s also step-free access into the auditorium, restaurants and bars and all floors can be accessed via lift. Accessible toilets can be found on every floor too.You’ll find disabled car parking spaces that can be booked in advance when you book your tickets.


Things to do near Bridgewater Hall

You’re not far away from the other attractions Manchester has to offer. For example, close by is the Palace Theatre where you can see a variety of performances from musicals to opera.

If you’re making a weekend of it and another gig takes your fancy, head to the Albert Hall - one of the Manchester’s most famous music venues. Or just go for a mooch around the Manchester Art Gallery - home to a vast array of paintings and more than 25,000 objects, it’s sure to be a treat for any culture vultures.


Eating and drinking

If you’re looking to be entertained, wined and dined all in the same place, you can with a spot at The Charles Hallé Restaurant & Stalls Café Bar. For a more formal affair, the restaurant is the place to head for a three-course meal.

For a swish pre-concert dining experience, head to Bridgewater Hall’s Charles Halle Restaurant. Here, head chef Marco Tedde cooks up a fine dining menu that’s indulgent enough to leave you feeling spoilt, without breaking the bank.  It’ll cost £27.50 for three courses plus coffee and petits fours, and you can expect delicacies such as Morecambe Bay shrimp to start, beef medallions or smoked trout for main, and innovative desserts such as a chocolate tulip filled with a coconut panna cotta.

Great for a lighter lunch or dinner, the Stalls Café Bar has a more casual feel than the restaurant. Instead of three course fine dining, you’ll find things like salt beef  sandwiches, griddled bloomers with fillings like salmon and dill or griddled halloumi and red pepper and avocado for lunch, with delicious coffees to wash it down. In the evening there is a pre-concert dining menu available from 5.30pm on concert nights - main course options include things like slow braised beef and seabass fillets.

Buzzy mezze and tapas restaurant Dimitri’s on Deansgate is a great shout for pre-concert dining. Cooking a sizzling menu of Greek and Mediterranean dishes, it’s great for sharing dishes, with aubergine rolls, falafels and calamari popular choices. Feeling indecisive? Avoid arguments by heading to Tops Buffet on Portland Street and you’ll have options on the table from all over the world, from Indian and Italian to sushi to Thai, and many are cooked at your table.

Fancy a tipple after your show? The Temple Bar on Great Bridgewater Street is a quirky place with a fascinating history. Back in Victorian times it was actually a set of public lavatories. Luckily, these have been converted into a trendy Manchester bar. Small and quirky, it’s designed with a chic 70s vibe in mind, including a vintage jukebox to really set the mood. Drinks include beers from all over the world (there are over 30 to choose from), plus a wide selection of wine, spirits and ales.


Getting to Bridgewater Hall

Due to its central location in Manchester, finding Bridgewater Hall is easy. From coach to tram to train, you have lots of options if you’re in or out of town.

By car
Put M2 3WS into your sat nav, or head to the nearest car parks. These are Q-Park, NCP Manchester Central, NCP Great Northern or NCP Oxford Street. You can book parking when you buy your tickets.

By bus
If you’re arriving by bus or coach, then Manchester Central Coach and Bus station is a good spot for you. What’s more, it’s located just a 10 minute walk away from Bridgewater Hall.

By train
Deansgate train station is a six-minute walk and has the same exit and entrance as the Metro station. The walk from Oxford Road train station takes around 10 minutes.

By tram
There are two Metrolink tram stations to choose from when you arrive in town. There is Deansgate- Castlefield and St Peter’s Square. Both are around a five to six-minute walk to Bridgewater Hall.


Looking for a hotel in Manchester?

Whether you want to stay in the heart of Manchester, or in a leafy suburb, we've lots of hotels to choose from. There are hotels next to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. And for those sports fans, there are hotels next to Old Trafford, the Etihad Stadium and the Manchester Apollo.