Manchester Culture and Heritage
Manchester is a city of sport, without doubt, but its culture expands beyond the two Premier League football clubs that call this city home. With a thriving theatre scene and talented local musicians, Manchester offers something for everyone – not just sports fans.
Theatre and Performing Arts
Beyond the sports stadiums and pubs, travelers will find many large performance venues peppered throughout the town. The Manchester Opera House hosts West End productions and large-scale touring shows.
The Opera House isn’t the only large theatre venue in town. Both the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Palace Theatre play host to first-class productions.
Smaller venues in the city include the Dancehouse, Contact Theatre and HOME.
Manchester is also home to the biennial Manchester International Festival, an international arts festival that focuses on new original work.
Music and Concerts
Several well-known bands and musicians have emerged from Manchester, including: The Verve, Buzzcocks, The Smiths, Oasis, Take That, Elbow, Doves and Godley & Creme.
In the 1980s, the city was credited with being the driving force of indie bands like The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, James and Inspiral Carpets.
The Monkees and the Bee Gees are also from Manchester.
The city’s main music venue is the Manchester Arena, which can accommodate up to 21,000 people. The arena is the largest of its kind in Europe, and the busiest indoor arena in the world – even outpacing Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Manchester is also home to other music venues, including the Manchester Apollo, Manchester Academy and Albert Hall.
The city is home to two symphonies: BBC Philharmonic and Halle.
Considered a centre for music education, Manchester has several music schools, including: Royal Northern College of Music, Chetham’s School of Music, Northern School of Music and Royal Manchester College of Music.
Some of the leading brass bands in the UK are from Manchester, including the CWS Manchester Band and Fairey Band.
Art Galleries and Museums
Manchester has a long and rich history, and its story is preserved and shared through the city’s many museums. From its Roman history to its role in the Industrial Revolution, Trade Union movement, textile industry, football and women’s suffrage, the city has a long history of being at the forefront of change.
In Castlefield, visitors can tour a reconstructed portion of the Mamucium, a Roman fort.
The former Liverpool Road rail station now houses the city’s Museum of Science and Industry, which is free to enter and explore. The museum boasts an impressive collection of steam locomotives, aircraft, industrial machinery and a replica of the first computer program (the Baby).
Over at the Museum of Transport, visitors can see historic trams and buses. The Imperial War Museum North is just a short distance away in Trafford Park.
The Manchester Museum offers natural history and Egyptology collections, and has been open ot the public since the 1880s.
For lovers of art, the Manchester Art Gallery has an excellent collection of European paintings, and one of the most important collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings in England.
Modern art, textiles and sculptures can be admired in the Whitworth Art Gallery in southern Manchester.
Other excellent museums and galleries in town include: the National Football Museum, the People’s History Museum, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester Costume Gallery and Manchester Jewish Museum.
Along with its impressive array of museumes and galleries, Manchester is also known for its “radical literary history.”
Charles Dickens is believed to have set his Hard Times novel in the city.
In the 19th century, local authors penned works that described how industrialization changed Britain. Prominent works from this time period included Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life and the Friedrich Engels’s study The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844.
Manchester was the meeting ground for Karl Marx and Engels. It was in Chetham’s Library that the two began writing The Communist Manifesto.
Chetham’s Library, established in 1653, is believed to be the oldest English public library. The city is also home to another prominent library: The Rylands Library. In the library’s collection is the Papyrus P52, which is thought to be the earliest surviving New Testament text.
Known as a sport city, Manchester is home to two Premier League football clubs: Manchester City and Manchester United.
The Old Trafford is the home ground of Manchester United, and is the largest football ground in the UK.
Manchester has a few other stadiums as well, including the City of Manchester Stadium.
The city hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1966 and several other major competitions over the years.
Manchester has a lively nightlife scene that has been actively growing since 1993. Investment in public houses, breweries and clubs has expanded greatly over the last few decades.
With more than 500 licensed premises in Manchester, the city is equipped to deal with more than 250,000 visitors. Around 100,000 people visit the city each weekend. The city has a night economy of approximately £100 million.