If you’re staying in one of our Manchester hotels, you won’t have to go too far to soak up some of the city’s cultural highlights. Just take a walk outside - roaming the city’s streets is a great way to discover Manchester’s rich history, from Victorian gothic and the industrial revolution to the buzzing media centre. And, while you walk, you’ll find plenty of museums and galleries that are free to duck into (perfect if it starts to rain), plus there’s great student culture to be found on campus at one of Manchester’s historic universities.
Culture in Manchester
As you might expect from a city made famous by the industrial paintings of LS Lowry, Manchester has a huge amount of galleries and exhibition spaces showcasing the work of both local and international artists.
If its incredible collection of world-famous pre-Raphaelite paintings aren’t your thing, visit Manchester Art Gallery for everything else - the fashion, design, silverware, dolls’ houses…or just for the blend of Victorian and contemporary architecture. With art that spans six centuries, collections are continuously being renewed, so there’ll be something different to look at, each time you visit - and all for free!
Part of the University of Manchester, The Whitworth is home to some of the UK's finest collections of art and design, including a rare collection of wallpapers. Manchester's ‘gallery in the park’ is more integrated than ever within the beautiful Whitworth Park, with a sculpture terrace, art garden and orchard, plus park-embracing spaces like a gallery and café in the trees.
While it’s best known as a hub of entertainment and theatre, The Lowry also houses The Lowry Gallery. Here you can enjoy the work of one of the UK’s best-known painters, alongside exhibitions of other local and international artists. Enjoy free guided tours - as well as activities laid on for young art lovers. And, if you’re staying at our Premier Inn Salford Quays hotel, you’re just a short walk from all of the art and entertainment on offer.
A great addition to the Manchester arts scene, HOME was opened by Danny Boyle in May 2015, and quickly became the city’s answer to London’s Barbican Centre. Although best known for the fantastic theatre and cinema spaces, its main gallery is home to the very best in international contemporary art.
Whether you’re inspired by science, soldiers or sport, Manchester’s museums will have something to entertain you. Fabulously hands-on and interactive, they’re a wonderful way to pass the time on your city break, rain or shine.
Dedicated to natural history and founded in 1821, Manchester Museum’s impressive collection brings the world to creeping, crawling, roaring life. You’ll come face to face with a fossilised T-rex named Stan, as well as zoology exhibits and live reptiles. Handle ancient Egyptian artefacts, take part in activities - and then head to the cafe for a cup of well-earned coffee.
Innovation is Manchester’s lifeblood, so a visit to its Museum of Science and Industry is a must. Built on the site of the world’s oldest passenger railway station, visitors can encounter life-changing inventions like the first steam-powered mill and computer.
It’s not just footy fans who’ll get a kick out of this place; the National Football Museum is the world's biggest museum dedicated to the beautiful game, and features priceless items like the ball from the 1966 World Cup final and iconic shirts worn by Bobby Moore and Maradona.
One of the most beautiful libraries in the world, the Grade I-listed John Rylands Library looks like a church from the outside, but step inside and prepare for your jaw to drop. Its main Reading Room looks like something from a film set, with high ceilings, warrens of dusty books and stained glass windows. Don’t miss artefacts like the St John Fragment - a tiny scrap of papyrus from the Gospel of John that’s regarded as the oldest piece of New Testament writing ever discovered.
Eight miles north of Manchester in the town of Bury, the Fusilier Museum is small, but so packed with things to see all do it may take you a while to get round it all. It tells the story of conflict through the collection of the Lancashire Fusiliers, and is a fascinating commemoration of their 300-year history. Our Manchester Bury hotel is close by - and it’s only 30 minutes by Metrolink to Manchester city centre.
Time to explore a different aspect of Manchester culture - the student side! With more than 80,000 people enrolled at Manchester Uni, Manchester Met or Salford University, the city has one of the largest student populations in Europe. And if you’re in town for an open day or graduation, you’ll soon see what attracted them here!
Located on the south side of the city, the University of Manchester has bags of history. You can’t fail to be impressed by both the beautiful listed buildings and academic heritage – it’s spawned 25 Nobel-Prize winners and the first atom was split here. As the largest single-site university in the UK, the campus itself is bustling, plus you’ll have the city of Manchester on your doorstep, waiting to be explored. And if you need to be on campus, there are several Premier Inn hotels near to Manchester University that are less than a mile away.
With a history of higher education dating back to 1824, Manchester Met is home to the prestigious Manchester School of Art (where Lowry studied) and the equally well-thought of Manchester School of Theatre (which counts Julie Walters and Steve Coogan among its alumni). Some £350 million has been invested over the last ten years so expect fabulous facilities, and its Manchester campus is just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre.
The University of Salford has provided career-focused courses since the Industrial Revolution. There are three campuses with a free shuttle bus that runs between them. The largest, Peel Park, is less than two miles from the city centre and sits in 60 acres of beautiful parkland. It’s also the only university to have a presence in the exciting MediaCityUK on the Salford Quays, home to six national BBC departments and ITV Granada.
In Manchester for a business event or exhibition? You’re in for a great time because the capital of the North is a firm favourite on the conference circuit. Vibrant, exciting and famously friendly, it’s built a reputation for creating outstanding events both big and small.
If you’re in town for a huge consumer exhibition, a glitzy awards show, or the Manchester round of X-Factor auditions, chances are you’ll be heading to EventCity. The city’s biggest event space (and the second largest of its kind outside London) it’s had past lives as a tobacco factory and warehouse before its transformation into a world-class conference facility.
The jewel in the city’s exhibition crown has to be the award-winning Manchester Central. The beautiful, grade II-listed building was once a train station and it’s kept many original railway features, such as the clock, vaulted arches and magnificent hall. A popular venue for political conferences, it can host everything from huge exhibitions to more intimate gatherings, with spaces that can house 10 to 10,000 delegates. Plus, being right in the heart of the city, it’s surrounded by a wealth of cultural attractions.