In Culture

A successful city is all about synergy. Disparate elements come together to create something greater than the sum of the parts. But sometimes, the parts themselves are worth celebrating.

There’s a chunk of Manchester that’s alive with innovation and activity. Literally thousands of people work there (more than 60,000) and even more people study there (73,000). It’s a cluster of university buildings, hospitals, business schools, science parks, sports facilities, gig venues, theatres, galleries and a museum.

Grab a map of Manchester and find Central Library. You’ll see Manchester Town Hall to the north and Manchester Central to the south. Follow Oxford Street until it becomes Oxford Road and carry on all the way down to Whitworth Gallery and Whitworth Park.

This is Corridor Manchester: about a mile and a half of… well, knowledge and learning.

From a visiting point of view, you can’t just walk into the National Graphene Institute or Citylabs 3.0. There aren’t tickets for the countless university lectures or the operating theatres of the Royal Infirmary but there are lots of ways to absorb Manchester’s cleverest quarter.

Central Library

The UK’s first free public library opened in Manchester in 1852. It took a while (70+ years!) but the city’s growing collection moved into its magnificent purpose-built home, Central Library in 1934. It has been a beautiful and beloved feature of the city centre ever since with a huge circular reading room that commands a quiet awe. Pop your head in but don’t cough! The echo will keep bouncing around for the rest of the day. Not really. But kinda.

Manchester Town Hall

Built in 1877, Manchester Town Hall was everything an ambitious Victorian city could ask for. Its design (by Alfred Waterhouse) was inspiring, innovative and something that all Mancunians could be proud of. The town hall and Albert Square are still focal points in Manchester but the town hall is currently closed for refurbishment until 2024.

Manchester Central

This former railway station rose from the ashes of dereliction in the seventies to become a state-of-the-art conference and exhibition complex today. Manchester Central’s gigantic main hall still features the original railway clock but it now keeps time for party conferences, awards ceremonies, gala banquets and trade shows.

The Bridgewater Hall

Purpose-built for music, the Bridgewater Hall is home to three orchestras: the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata. But they’re not the only musicians who get to fill the Bridgewater’s auditorium with music. There are more than 250 performances a year from all kinds of musical genres. If you don’t know what to choose, stick a pin in the calendar and book some tickets. The chances are, it’ll give you goosebumps...in a good way.

The Palace Theatre

Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Noel Coward, Danny Kaye: the list of greats who have performed at the Palace Theatre is amazing. But a theatre can’t survive on legends and the Palace has been Manchester’s premiere musical theatre venue for a long, long time. The Palace Theatre in a nutshell? Manchester’s big-name West End theatre. Bravo!

O2 Ritz

The O2 Ritz isn’t the biggest live music venue in Manchester but it isn’t the smallest either. It hits a sweet spot somewhere between the two: perfect for bands who are just breaking onto the national scene or for bigger names re-discovering their mojo with secret or warm-up gigs. Best of all? When the bands hit their stride, the fans go mad and the famously sprung dancefloor takes on a life of its own. Love it.

HOME

More than just an independent cinema, more than just a gallery, more than just a theatre, bookshop, café or bar. HOME is a safe place for creative independence. It looks all around the world for new art and experiences but stays tuned in locally to support homegrown talent and initiatives. A glance at their calendar is the best way to grasp what they do. Actually, that’s the second best. Visit, grab a coffee and look around.

The Dancehouse Theatre

Why does the Dancehouse feel like a hidden gem? When it’s right there on one of Europe’s busiest bus routes? Good question. The Dancehouse is an old cinema that’s been through all the highs and lows of audience trends since the 1920s. Its Art Deco interior has survived but it is now home of the Northern Ballet School and particularly good at Fringe-style touring comedy shows.

The Deaf Institute

The name sounds a little unkind nowadays but it’s literally written in stone above the front door. It’s what this place was originally designed to be in 1878 but has been brilliantly re-purposed by the current owners. The Deaf Institute is great for food but the first floor ‘music hall’ is, for us, the one to watch. Think of a small stage with cool/edgy/underground bands, comedians and performers.

Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM)

For lots of people, music is the soundtrack of their lives. For others, music is their life. They eat, drink and sleep it and they’re happy to travel a long way to learn from the brightest and best. That’s why talented people come from all over the world to study at RNCM. But it’s not all practise behind closed doors and marked by professors. RNCM is also a live music venue not just for students but for all kinds of touring and professional musicians: more than 400 concerts every year. Try to work that out as a daily average. In your head. (Pssst: one and a bit).

Manchester Museum

The largest university museum in the UK, Manchester Museum is one of the city’s most popular visitor attractions. That’s a credit to how hard the museum works to keep its vast collection accessible, engaging, family-friendly and worth re-visiting over and over again. And with an ambitious plan called ‘hello future’, Manchester Museum is aiming to become one of the most inclusive and imaginative museums in the UK. Watch this space.

Manchester Academy

Manchester Academy started life as Manchester University’s student union building. It’s been a cornerstone of Manchester’s live music scene since 1963 and an amazing list of people have played there: Hendrix, The Damned, U2, Kylie and Prince. The Academy is actually four venues in one: Academy 1, 2 and 3 are live music venues with the fourth, Club Academy, being a… club. For, y’know… clubbing.

Contact Theatre

At the time of writing, Contact is undergoing a ‘major expansion and refurbishment’. When its doors open once more (scheduled for 2020), what can we expect? Well, Contact has always understood that Manchester is full of talented people. Nurturing this talent and helping their distinctive voices to be heard by the rest of the world is what Contact does best. It’s invaluable. So, c’mon Mr. Refurbisher. Hurry up with that paint roller!

Whitworth Art Gallery

Whitworth Park sits like a garden at the end of the Corridor. It’s also home to Whitworth Art Gallery with park and gallery blending into each other like a Frank Lloyd Wright sketch. The gallery’s recent £15 million expansion doubled the exhibition space, charmed the critics, gave us perhaps the loveliest café in Manchester and sent visitor figures through the roof. And we’ve not even mentioned art!

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