The Government has announced that England is ready to move to stage three of the roadmap out of restrictions, and from Monday 17 May limits on social contact are lifted, allowing two households or six people to meet inside for the first time in months.  

Outdoor dining and pubs, non-essential shops and outdoor attractions have been open since 12 April, and this week we see the reopening of Greater Manchester’s indoor hospitality, hotels, attractions, museums and art galleries.  

Please remember to check if venues require pre-booking before visiting. All businesses are following Government guidelines on Covid-19 safety, please remember to keep your distance where possible, where a face covering where required (unless exempt), wash your hands regularly, and seek spaces with good ventilation. 

It’s the moment we have all been waiting for – so here is our bumper top TEN things you will be able to do in Greater Manchester from Monday 17 May. 


1. Explore brand new attractions including Europe’s biggest garden project 

This week welcomes the long-awaited opening of RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, a new 154-acre outdoor space featuring walled gardens, orchards and lakes, as well as a Welcome Centre with plant shop and café. Tickets are now available to book for its opening from 18 May.   

Also opening this week on 19 May, is the Science & Industry Museum’s new Special Exhibitions Gallery, with a free exhibition called Top Secret, exploring over a century’s worth of espionage with declassified files and never seen before artefacts from GCHQ and the Science Museum Group’s collection. 

Literary lovers will also be able to visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s House again, reopening on 19 May – with the first public reveal of the author’s bedroom, which has been beautifully reimagined over the last 12 months. Plus, a new exhibition A Love Affair with Cranford also opens, exploring the beloved Gaskell novel, accompanied by a family trail throughout the house.  

2. Museums and art galleries reopen their doors 

This week welcomes the reopening of museums and art galleries across the region. In Manchester art galleries including The Whitworth Art GalleryManchester Art GalleryCastlefield Gallery and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, reopen on 19 May with pre-booking required; and in Oldham, Gallery Oldham reopens on 18 May with an exhibition on Art of the Everyday from the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts.  

Museums opening from 19 May include; IWM North, who resume their Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire exhibition; Manchester Museum’s collections including the live vivarium; and the People’s History Museum who have a range of new exhibitions on the theme of migration, plus a brand new kitchen – see below.. 

For more inspiration, check out our new museum’s guide on Instagram. 

3. You can finally eat indoors! 

No more braving the infamous Manchester weather with dining outdoors – pubs and restaurants are now able to offer indoor hospitality from 17 May. 

Why not combine the opportunity to eat indoors with culture, at the People’s History Museum’s newest partners, Open Kitchen, who source food that would otherwise be thrown away by supermarkets and turn it into delicious meals!  

Other restaurants that are excited to welcome guests back indoors include; Peter Street Kitchen within The Edwardian Manchester, serving Japanese and Mexican fusion cuisine; Dakota Grill within The Dakota Hotel, for top quality steaks; and Fazenda for traditional Brazilian Rodizio.  

For an after-shopping bite, check out The Corn Exchange opposite Manchester Arndale, with its variety of twelve different restaurants to choose from. And for something a bit special, Vermilion offers a three-floor labyrinth with a critically-acclaimed Asian cuisine menu.   

4. Enjoy a film in-person, or listen to live music (online) 

Cinema experiences are back on with HOME reopening its doors on 17 May with a programme of international cinema, alongside two exhibitions in its art gallery space; and Everyman St John’s sets its projectors rolling again with major film showings from Monday morning.  

The summer season of theatre and concert performances at The Bridgewater HallThe Lowry and Contact Theatre are now on sale, whilst livestream performances continue at RNCM with a showcase event with Classical FM on 15 May; and The Met in Bury has a cheerful pop-up Ukulele club livestreaming on 21 May.  


5. Explore ancient halls and historic houses  

Greater Manchester has some stunning old halls and country houses, that for the first time in months will reopen their grand doors to the public. The characterful Ordsall Hall in Salford, which dates back over 820 years and is rumoured to be the spot where Guy Fawkes discussed his daring Gunpowder Plot, will reopen its house and gardens from 17 May.   

The equally beautiful Tudor manor house, Bramall Hall with its Elizabethan ceilings and 16th century wall paintings, is one of the first visitor attractions to reopen in Stockport from 19 May.  

The glorious house, gardens and deer park that make up 16th century Lyme Park managed by the National Trust, will open fully for visitors to take in its splendour, with keen eyed visitors noting the famous fountain where Mr Darcy emerged in the film Pride and Prejudice.  

6. Get family or friends together for a day out  

Take a trip on a steam train this weekend with special services running on 15 and 16 May at East Lancashire Railway for slow pace journeys taking in the Bury countryside. Special events are planned across the summer, so keep an eye out for further announcements. 

With limits on travel lifted, visitors can now enjoy a day trip to Chester Zoo and see some of its 35,000 animals. Tickets should be booked in advance on its website, but hurry - weekend tickets are selling out fast!  

For something a bit different, try Breakout MCR, a live escape room that challenges teams to solve puzzles to unlock the door with themes including a cursed carnival and a detective agency to solve. Or for those more daring, try your hand at urban axe throwing with Whistlepunks, inside Great Northern for a unique take on darts – but with axes!   

7. Join a unique football or food tour 

Football fans rejoice – tours of the Manchester United stadium will resume from 17 May, with behind the scenes access to areas often unseen by the public including an up-close experience of the pitch and players’ tunnel.   

Foodies are also catered for with Scranchester Tours now available to book – not only do you get to taste some of Manchester’s best ‘scran’, you’ll also get to know the history of the city, and how food and drink has shaped its legacy.  

8. Book into a Manchester hotel – and get a free night’s stay  

You can now get a free hotel night in Manchester, with our new Have a Night on Us offer, which gives you your third night free if you stay two nights in the city – allowing you to extend your trip and have more time to enjoy new attractions and experiences throughout the summer. Find out which hotels are taking part and offers available here

This week also sees the grand opening of new hotel Qbic on Deansgate, and the reopening of grande dame The Midland, as well as Hotel Brooklyn, who have opened nominations for their Thank You Ball, a free night of dining and entertainment to thank key workers.  

9. Visit a craft fair and celebrate LGBT+ Pride in Trafford 

This weekend the historic Victoria Baths hosts the second of its Creative Makers Fair’s, where the restored Victorian pools will be transformed to host a variety of unique handmade artwork, ceramics, crafts and textiles. You’ll also have the chance to see its newly restored stained glass, expanded gift shop, and take in the history of the 1906 building in the Exhibition Room. Entry is timed, priced at £3.  

The first opportunity to celebrate Pride since 2020 takes place this week, with Pride in Trafford from 17-22 May, which includes a rainbow flag raising at Sale Town Hall, a disco tea party, exhibitions, comedy and creative workshops. 

10. Take part in unique food and drink experiences  

Get a hands-on experience with two food and drink activities this week. The first is Food Sorcery, Didsbury’s answer to a grown-up cookery class. Events coming up include a wine and cheese tasting event, a cook your own Indian takeaway masterclass, and a session on making your own pasta!  

For those who’d prefer to concoct a mixture that will kickstart a relaxing weekend without leaving home, try Manchester Gin’s online gin tasting experience for two, with a masterclass on creating the perfect drink direct from Manchester’s own premier gin distillers.