Whitworth Art Gallery

Hugging a charming urban park a short stroll from the city centre, The Whitworth is one of the UK’s top venues for contemporary art. Founded in 1889, a few years ago it was given a modernist facelift and now the original building fuses with a RIBA award-winning wing in glass and steel. Exhibitions change regularly, while the permanent collection includes a compelling array of outsider art – or works by those apart from the mainstream art world. Although summer is a loose concept in Manchester, on balmy days it’s worth pulling up a deckchair in the gallery’s garden and watching the world amble by.

Chinatown

Manchester’s Chinatown is, perhaps surprisingly for some, the third largest in Europe. A dense cluster of restaurants, bakeries, souvenir shops and karaoke bars, most of the action runs in an easy to navigate square. Visitors are best to start on Faulkner Street, with its dramatic arch or “paifang”. On the same stretch you’ll also find Mei Dim, the best dim-sum joint in the city. While long queues are common on weekends, the fried turnip cakes with XO sauce alone are more than worth the wait and a good way to showcase your culinary insight; they’re not on the English menu.

Manchester Art Gallery

The city’s largest gallery, Manchester Art Gallery is divided equitably between the classic and the contemporary. As well works by L. S. Lowry (Manchester’s most celebrated painter), there are internationally important pieces by the likes of Cézanne, Renoir and Turner. Good news for those who enjoy a gallery shop as much as the exhibits, here you’ll also find a pretty comprehensive selection of glossy coffee table books to browse and the kind of local maker items that cost the earth but still somehow end up coming home with you.

John Rylands Library

Opened to the public in 1900, the neo-gothic John Rylands Library is rich in atmosphere, with dimly lit stone hallways and mottled stained-glass windows. Arguably the main event, the cavernous reading room features grand statues of renowned literary figures, seemingly infinite rows of cracking leather-bound books and columns that stretch to the cloud-grazing ceiling. While most are happy just to soak up the late Victorian stateliness of it all, for true bibliophiles the library holds well over a million manuscripts, over 250,000 printed volumes and a fragment of New Testament writing believed to be the earliest ever found.

  • + 44 161 306 0555
  • 150 Deansgate
    M3 3EH

Home

A slick arts complex that combines a cinema, theatre, gallery space and small bookstore within a striking contemporary building, Home is Manchester’s foremost destination for progressive culture. From independent films to high-concept dance performances, its programme is as eclectic as they come and mixes the international with a commitment to home-grown talent. But not one to take itself too seriously, amid the obscure Korean flicks and complex plays are evenings dedicated to camp classics – think Heathers or Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion – that are a satisfying excuse to take a break from the thoughtful in favour of arguing over who invented Post-its.

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