Following on from the success of our very popular '101 things to do in Greater Manchester' post, we've reached farther and wider across the city-region to find the perhaps lesser-known things to do in the city. From weird and wonderful nightlife to surprising shops and innovative food and drinks destinations, Greater Manchester really is the gift that keeps on giving.

As always, we've tried to make things a little easier to navigate... Jump to: 

Music & Nightlife | Food & Drink | LGBT+ | Attractions | Activities | Sport | Outdoors | Shopping

Mysterious Music and Nightlife

  1. Explore a musical playground

An award-winning music and arts playground, Hidden is one of the newest (and coolest) event spaces in Greater Manchester. The upper floors and accompanying warehouse provide room for low cost studio and exhibition space. The idiosyncratic graffiti throughout the building and dark alleys to explore offer a playful and creative environment – perfect for late-night gigs and performances.

  1. More than just a pub

A bit more than your average boozer, The Kings Arms is a hive of activity most nights of the week. Hosting theatre, music, comedy and quiz nights, this Manchester/Salford bordering pub has been listed in the Good Beer Guide for ten years running, too. If that’s not enough encouragement, they even have a resident cat. Grab a beer and a cuddle with Charlie!

  1. Enjoy live music every night of the week

One of the most active music venues in the city, with live music options downstairs nearly every night of the week, The Peer Hat is somewhat of a Mancunian institution. On the ground level there is a bustling bar with a rustic, relaxed vibe – with wooden tables, drapes and a comfy sofa. Forget pretentious venues and overpriced entries, The Peer Hat stands out for its warmth and accessibility.

  1. See live music in an unlikely venue…

Perhaps not the first place you’d think of when it comes to gigs and nightlife, but Manchester Cathedral has been host to many. As well as regularly hosting Manchester Children’s Choir and Chetham’s School of Music, the cathedral has acted as a stomping ground for Elbow fans, dance music devotees and gin enthusiasts.

  1. Be amazed by internationally-acclaimed artists

The Royal Northern College of Music is an internationally-acclaimed conservatoire and a thriving performance venue delivering an eclectic programme of music and opera. A major venue for classical, jazz and opera music, both top international professionals and RNCM’s acclaimed student ensembles perform here.

  1. Experience live classical music

With its own purpose built studio in MediaCityUK, the BBC Philharmonic offers a fantastic opportunity to experience live classical music at its best. Those interested can apply for free tickets for concerts in the studio, or purchase tickets for their annual season at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.

  1. Find entertainment in somebody else’s living room

Transforming everyday spaces from living rooms to shops, Sofar Sounds create gigs where you think you’re least likely to find them. Each Sofar session is small, and typically features three diverse acts, with no headliner. Shows are a lottery, and you’ll never know who you’re seeing until you arrive!

The Pink Room at YES. Photo from their Facebook

  1. Visit the Pink Room

A relatively new player to the game, YES is a performance and event venue spread over four floors in a former auction house in the city centre. With events predominantly taking place in the aptly named pink room (you need to see it to believe it) and the basement, YES is also home to a roof terrace, ground-floor bar space, and two incredible food vendors in Firebird Hope and Pepperoni Playboy.

  1. See a gig in the shadow of Strangeways

From behind the guys at SWAY records, The White Hotel is a former garage in the shadows of Strangeways and hosts regular gigs from up-and-coming artists.

  1. Be Surprised by Salford’s Soul

This characterful venue is tucked away in the Salford backstreets, but still extremely close in proximity to Manchester city centre. Once an abandoned terraced house next door, the Eagle Inn’s intimate capacity venue was converted in 2014 and now plays host to a full calendar of live music, spoken word, comedy, theatre, film screenings and more, almost every night of the week.

  1. Rock on in Rebellion

Open for events and gigs only, Rebellion is a dark, dramatic music venue close to Deansgate Station. Founded in 2013 and with over 400 capacity, you can usually find some of the best local and touring heavy metal and rock bands, as well as hip-hop, punk and funk.

  1. Enjoy music in a Grade II listed church

Located just off Chapel Street on the Manchester/Salford border, this Grade II listed church is regularly used for live music. Check their website for scheduled nights and visiting gigs – you can even access the creepy crypt below.

  1. Get your Science on

The Old Abbey Taphouse re-opened in October 2016 as a STEAM (that's Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths) focused hub in a pub connecting communities through events and creating networks between academics, residents and local businesses. Having recently built an outdoor stage, The Old Abbey Tap House now hosts indoor gigs and outdoor events!

  1. No frills, no problem

Home to some of the longest-running alternative club nights in Manchester including ‘The Smiths Disco’, The Star and Garter is built in the style of a no-nonsense boozer situated behind Piccadilly Station, with a room upstairs for club nights and gigs. It’s especially good for punk, grunge and rock shows, and has plenty of atmosphere.

Peculiar Food and Drink

  1. Enjoy food from shipping containers

An award-winning destination hidden underneath the Mancunian Way, Hatch has continued to grow in size and popularity since it opened in 2018. Now home to over 30 independent traders who rotate frequently, this isn’t just a place to eat and drink (though the food and drink is out of this world!)

  1. Market madness

Operating every weekend between March and December, Levenshulme Market is a volunteer-run market offering up a whole host of food and drink traders.

  1. Dine in a former public library

Throughout its 160+ year life, the Produce Hall has previously hosted fish and meat markets, cheese stalls, sweet shops, and even a public library. Now, it is very much the home of one of Stockport’s newest foodie destinations. With delicious food and drink from around the world, the Produce Hall offers authentic market-style dining.

  1. A Story every six weeks

Six by Nico offers a highly affordable six-course tasting menu which rotates six-weekly. Each menu is themed upon a different place or memory, and each dish sets out to encompass this. Six by Nico offers the opportunity to switch to a vegetarian menu, or to swap out any dishes on the standard menu for their vegetarian counterparts.

  1. Graze, dine and drink

A new social space in Manchester city centre, CULTUREPLEX is the place to graze, dine and drink. It’s also a bright and airy co-working space, somewhere to listen to a talk, or engage in a discussion. It’s  a space for everyone. Bistrotheque at CULTUREPLEX will be delivering the menu, with dinner on offer seven nights a week and brunch at weekends.

  1. Get your sugar fix

A common favourite amongst Mancunians and visitor, Black Milk is the perfect place for those looking to get their sugar fix. With a menu that changes on a regular basis (and the reason you’ll need to keep going back), Black Milk offers everything from freakshakes and waffles to ice cream sundaes and frozen coffee.

  1. Enjoy a brew in the company of some feline friends

Certainly not an experience you’ll have on the daily, Manchester’s cat café offers the chance for visitors to enjoy a slice of cake and cup of tea in the company of its 13 furry residents. Specifically selected for their individual breeds and personalities, guests can interact with cats they wouldn’t necessarily get to meet on a day to day basis.

  1. Darts + beer = good idea!

The home of social darts! Experience a game of darts like no other, with Flight Club’s supercharged version of the traditional game. With multiplayer games, interactive boards, and a huge choice of food and drink to keep you energised; a visit to Flight Club is time well spent.

  1. Drink your way through the taps

Based in Piccadilly, Unit 9 is Cloudwater’s tap room. Situated next door to the brewery, the tap room includes 20 draft taps to showcase fresh releases and barrel-aged beers. There is also a shop offering cans and bottles to take-away.

  1. Get a taste for pub classics

A bar, pub, restaurant and brewery located in a beautifully restored pub building in Bury town centre, The Clarence is a foodie paradise. With traditional pub favourites and British classics with a twist, The Clarence offers a good old fashioned, down to earth Manchester welcome.

  1. Wine, wine and more wine (and gin!)

With two branches – one in Sale and one in Heaton Moor, Cork of the North is becoming all the more popular thanks to its well-stocked shops with wines from across the world. Wines by the glass change daily and are displayed on a blackboard behind the bar and both sites offer wine tasting events regularly.

  1. Discover Stockport’s blue side

A small bar with a big blues attitude, this Victorian inspired blues bar is one of the latest additions to Stockport. Behind the bar are eight keg lines pouring beer including the bar’s own Cracked Actor Lager. The bar also serves Cracked Hatter Gin, made by Stockport's Hatters Gin, as well as a selection of spirits from Manchester's Zymurgorium distillery.

  1. Indulge in the best afternoon tea

A stylish and experiential dining and drinking atmosphere, West Ivy’s afternoon tea in particular is quite the show stopper. Serving up the likes of deep-fried halloumi chips, Nutella mini shakes and Biscoff Cheesecake, arrive hungry for this incredible delight.

  1. Eat the day's harvest, catch and slaughter

Skilfully maintaining what's best about the produce they find, Where the Light Gets In offer no menu but instead create a dining experience from the day's harvest, catch and slaughter. Now one of Stockport’s foodie hotspots, be sure to book in advance for a table here.

  1. Enjoy Greater Manchester’s pub of the year

Located just next to Rochdale Town Hall, The Flying Horse Hotel is a pub packed with character. Voted Greater Manchester’s Pub of the year in 2018, expect to find an ever-changing range of cask ales, and 2 cask ciders regularly sourced from local breweries.

  1. Health, well-being and great food

A local institution that has been running as a co-operative health-food shop since the 1970’s, Eighth Day has a café downstairs which is worth a look for a quick stop after stocking up on vegan staples. Meals are hearty and colourful.

The Christie Bistro. Photo from their website.

  1. Enjoy food where great minds have met

Based in the old Science Library of Owens College, this hidden gem owned by the University of Manchester offers up a delectable menu from breakfast to afternoon tea. The chilled lounge area is the perfect place to enjoy light bites and artisan coffees.

  1. Discover one of Boothstown’s best

Situated in Boothstown, this quirky bar and café serves up tasty food, a whole host of drinks (including milkshakes to die for), and open mic nights. In terms of the menu, think loaded triple cooked chips, peri peri chicken and smokey BBQ pulled jackfruit (vegan friendly).

Hidden LGBT+

  1. No pretention or labels here

Whilst the Gay Village is centre of LGBT+ life, fringe venues across the city have popped up providing alternative queer nights. Homoelectric fits this category. Sexual orientation and music genres are irrelevant on Homoelectric’s dancefloors. Into their melting pot they throw disco, house, techno, garage, pop, dirt, and glamour with no pomp or pretension. Keep an eye on their social media channels for upcoming events.

  1. A picnic that is pink

Although it’s a seasonal event, it’s worth noting the Pink Picnic. Taking place each June, the Pink Picnic is Salford’s annual celebration of the LGBT+ community. Expect a stage with music, food and drink vendors and a selection of stalls reflecting the diversity of the city.

  1. That’s What She Said

Taking place monthly in Canal Street’s very own Tribeca, That’s What She Said is a spoken word night for women. Shortlisted for Best Spoken Word Night in the UK (Saboteur Awards), That's What She Said showcases the best new writing and performance by women and non-binary writers, featuring iconic and emerging authors with a mix of performance, poetry, storytelling, slam and more.

  1. Kiss Me Again

Offering a regular scheduled programme, Kiss Me Again takes place at the Soup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter, and is dedicated to bringing a broad spectrum of sounds and good times to the LGBT+ community.

  1. Dance in a former printing press

A 200-capacity club in the basement of a former printing press in the city’s Northern Quarter, with a focus on LGBT+ and female balanced line-ups. Cotton boasts custom Danley sound system and a selection of up and coming headline talent, mixed with some more established acts and local DJs on support complete this revolutionary venue.

  1. Hop down the rabbit hole

With an award winning ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed dining experience, Richmond Tea Rooms is a poorly kept secret in the heart of Manchester’s Gay Village. With a selection of weird and wonderful exotic and rare teas from around the world, Richmond isn’t your normal tea room…

The Vimto Statue, Photo by Mark Jennings

Atypical Attractions

  1. Explore Manchester’s cordial history

In 1908, a herbalist called Noel Nichols made his very first barrel of Vim Tonic in a terraced house on Granby Row. Fast forward to 1992 and the “Monument to Vimto” was installed at the site of its creation and has become a pilgrimage site for tourists and locals alike. The monument consists of a giant Vimto bottle surrounded by some of the fruits and herbs used in the drink’s production.

  1. Stand where the Smiths once stood

Established in 1903 as a purpose-built club for boys, Salford Lads Club is now perhaps most famous for that photo of the Smiths outside its doors. Continuing to provide a facility for boys and girls, the club is now considered to be the finest example of a pre First World War club surviving and operating today.

  1. Travel back to Victorian times

Get in touch with the past at Clayton Hall and see what it was like to live in Victorian times. A Grade II listed building, this is the only remaining moated manor house in Greater Manchester. With plenty of hands-on activities, it’s a fun day out for all of the family.

  1. See how the Moravian’s lived

A unique model village built by the Moravian Church in 1785, the Fairfield Moravian Settlement is a living community retaining all of its original charm, symmetry and tranquillity.

  1. Explore the largest surviving spinning-mill steam engine

Built in 1892 on the banks of the River Beal, the Ellenroad cotton mill produced fine cotton yarn using mule spinning. Nowadays, Ellenroad Engine House is home to the largest surviving, spinning-mill steam engine. See the restored 3,000 horsepower twin engines, Victoria and Alexandra, the 80 ton flywheel, Whitelees beam engine (1842) and 1921 steam generator in action.

  1. Discover how the revolutionaries lived

Recording over 200 years of organising and campaigning work by men and women for social and political progress, the Working Class Movement Library is a revolutionary attraction in the heart of Salford.

  1. Appreciate the city’s oldest surviving synogogue

Just outside of the vibrant city centre, Manchester Jewish Museum is somewhat of a hidden treasure. Located in a former Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, it is the oldest surviving synagogue building in Manchester. The museum chronicles the lives of Jewish people in Manchester and their contribution to making the city what it is today.

  1. Travel all the way back to 1460

Discover the history of Staircase House from 1460 to World War Two. With the help of a state-of-the-art audio guide, discover the fascinating history of the house, and even try your hand at 17th Century quill pen writing. Another good one for families.

  1. Mad as a Hatter

This award-winning visitor attraction offers two floors of interactive exhibits taking you on a journey through the history of Stockport’s once thriving hatting industry. Hat Works includes a recreated hatting factory floor with a collection of over 20 fully restored working Victorian style machines and over 400 hats on display, it’s a fun day out for all the family.

  1. Live the life of a firefighter for the day

This unusual museum in Rochdale offers visitors the opportunity to explore the fascinating history of firefighting within Greater Manchester. With several varied exhibits including fire appliances in period settings such as a Victorian street, fire station and 1940 Blitz scene.

  1. Explore Grade-II listed beauty

A Grade II listed contemporary art gallery in Saddleworth with a gift shop, workshop, tea bar, garden and two galleries, there’s plenty to do at the Weavers Factory. With a new art exhibition launched on the first weekend of every month, and weekly creative workshops, return visits to the Weavers Factory are recommended.

  1. Wander back through time

Salford’s hidden gem, Ordsall Hall dates back 600 years. This stunning building will allow you to take a step back in time. Wander back through time soaking up the atmosphere of the fully-furnished Great Hall and Star Chamber Bedroom.

  1. Delve into Contemporary Art

Leading the UK in exploring Chinese Contemporary culture, the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) hosts a unique programme of exhibitions, film screenings, talks, performances and workshops made accessible to all.

  1. Visit a gallery that encompasses versatility

With a wide range of exhibitions and activities, Gallery Oldham is a centrepiece in the district’s cultural calendar. As well as exhibitions, it plays host to talks, tours and workshops targeted at different audiences of all ages.

  1. Thriving and vibrant art

A thriving and vibrant arts venue in the heart of Sale, Waterside Arts Centre is home to a theatre, art galleries, studios and workspaces. Often playing host to touring theatre productions, music groups and comedians, the programme at Waterside is always chock-a-block with exciting things to see and do.

  1. Get artsy in an industrial warehouse

This industrial warehouse by the Irwell has stood out in its transformation into a state-of-the-art creative space, since its conception in 2017. Paradise Works has now built up a dynamic programme of exhibitions, film screenings and showcases, and celebrates both UK-based and international artists.

Rochdale's Pioneers Museum

  1. Discover the beginnings of the Co-operative movement

Widely regarded as the home of the worldwide Co-operative movement, The Rochdale Pioneers Museum started its story in 1844 when the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society opened their first little store selling food at fair prices with honest weights and measures. Now, the site of the first shop is home to the museum, with displays and exhibitions telling the story of the inspirational Pioneers.

Adventurous Activities

  1. See theatre in a former cotton mill

Situated in the Grade-II listed Hope Mill, the five storey Hope Mill Theatre is also home to several creative’s studios including writers, artists and designers. The theatre space is entirely versatile, meaning the audience could be sat in a number of shapes and sizes! There’s also the Engine Room Café and Bar which is open an hour and a half prior to performance.

  1. See theatre in Manchester's provocative performance space

Manchester's provocative and innovative performance venue situated in the heart of the city's busy Oxford Road Corridor, Contact Theatre is the national contemporary arts organisation. Its distinctive towers also make it one of Manchester's most unique architectural gems.

  1. Take a Highlights Tour of the Manchester Museum's Natural History Collection

Discover how Manchester Museum’s collection of four million artefacts connects Manchester’s radical history to the rest of the world: this 45 minute guided tour gives unparalleled insight into the museum’s international collections, including specimens of a moth directly affected by the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries that transformed Manchester’s fortunes and global standing. 

  1. Learn how to cook tasty veggie goodness

The Altrincham-based Vegetarian Society have long been offering their cookery school, with friendly tutors passionate about modern veggie and vegan cooking. With a whole range of international cuisines to learn, the Veg Soc cookery school is perfect for those looking to try something a little different.

  1. Dinosaur fun!

Under the shadow of the Chill Factore’s slope, DinoFalls Adventure golf is an 18-hole, action-packed course in a dramatic Jurassic setting. With realistic moving dinosaurs, there are also fascinating facts about dinosaurs as you head around the course. It’s as educational as it is fun!

Spirit of Manchester Distillery

  1. Make your own gin

New to the scene, the Spirit of Manchester distillery has recently been opened by the long-established Manchester Gin. After a full distillery tour, the guys at Manchester Gin will then teach you the art of gin creation. Choose your own botanicals and distil your own bottle of gin to take home. There might be some gin tasting to do on the way, too. Someone’s got to do it…

  1. Check out indie cinema and virtual reality all in one go!

Picture this: an indie cinema, video games, tap room from Squawk Brewing Company and a VR lounge. It doesn’t exist, right? Wrong. Chapeltown Picture House has arrived to the city with a bang. With screenings almost nightly, it’s worth keeping an eye on what’s upcoming on their event page.

  1. Get your game on

Taking up two floors of an unassuming warehouse in Bury, ‘Europe’s largest free play arcade club’ is home to over 250 consoles from three decades of arcade gaming. This nerd magnet is home to an incredible selection including retro arcade classics like Pacman, Donkey Kong and Space Invaders alongside the latest in VR, home consoles and Far East imports.

  1. See film in a boutique setting

Rescued, refurbished and re-opened in 2015, The Savoy in Heaton Moor is a proudly independent ‘boutique’ cinema. It offers more than just fizzy drinks and popcorn and loves to make a special event out of screenings. For example, a screening of The Big Lebowski offered a free White Russian to anyone wearing a dressing gown.

  1. G and Afternoon T along the Bridgewater Canal

Savour a Worsley Gin Champagne cocktail on arrival and then cruise along the Bridgewater Canal sipping on gin and indulging in a 3-course afternoon tea. We wouldn’t mind doing this on a regular basis…

  1. Play bingo, but not really

The most outrageous game of bingo you will ever play (and that’s a promise), Bongo’s Bingo is turns a predisposed evening of bingo on its head. Expect impromptu raves, dance offs and prizes so bad they’re good.

  1. Dippy is coming to Rochdale

If you’ve ever been to the Natural History Museum in London, you’ll have seen their huge resident dinosaur, Dippy the Diplodocus. Now, Dippy is going on tour, and will be accepting visitors from February to June 2020 in Rochdale.

A potential stop on Scranchester's Tour

  1. Eat your way around the city

A truly immersive food tour of Manchester, Scranchester Tours will take you on a multi-stop tour across the city, offering edible insights into its food history and culture along the way. Arrive hungry, and with an elasticated waistband, as there will be a minimum of eight stops revealing why the city’s food and drink scene is booming.

  1. Discover ghosts and ghouls

With a wide range of award-winning ghost walks and experiences, be spooked by a Flecky Bennett Production in the city centre or further afield. Flecky will guide you around the backstreets and passageways of the like of the city centre, Stockport Air Raid Shelter, Didsbury, Bolton and Altrincham to name but a few. Not for the faint-hearted.

  1. Escape to another dimension

Located in Escape Hunt within Manchester city centre’s Corn Exchange, ‘Worlds Collide’ is a Doctor Who inspired escape game. Step into the world of the Time Lord and take on the challenge as a team to save the world from a tear in the fabric of space and time within the space of an hour. No pressure…

  1. Marvel at Street Art

Join Skyliner in learning about the creation of the Northern Quarter as we know it today, find out the major names behind some of the area's oldest street art and those behind the most recent installations such as the Cities of Hope exhibition. Skyliner tours will identify lesser known heritage sites and highlight how modern art movements in Manchester hope to continue to drive creativity within this very unique neighbourhood.

Strange Sport

  1. Get a jog on

Don’t know what parkrun is yet? Taking the world quite literally by storm, parkrun is a series of 5km runs held across the UK in areas of beautiful open spaces. Parkrun is open to all, free, safe and easy to take part in. And if the kids want to join in too, junior parkrun events are open to 4-14 year olds too. We’ve created a list of some of the best in the region, here.

  1. Experience a live ice hockey game at Manchester Storm

Silver Blades Ice Rink is the home Manchester Storm Ice Hockey team. Manchester Storm play in the Elite League in the UK, and you can watch the high-tempo sport during the season with a great family atmosphere.

  1. Groovy Yoga in time with the cool rhythms of Jamaica

Reggae Yoga is designed to help you build strength, stretch and sweat whilst listening to the uplifting beats of a roots reggae soundtrack. Eirian teaches Vinyasa flow, a fast-paced style of yoga, with smooth, swift moves that come across as almost dance-like. Classes are held weekly at The Wonder Inn, an old 18th century listed building now used as a wellness centre in the trendy Northern Quarter neighbourhood and is open to all levels. Book or drop in to bring those tired muscles back to life in time with the cool rhythms of Jamaica.

  1. Take to the skies

Ever fancied becoming an acrobat? Well now you can at least learn some of the skills. Cloud aerial arts run a number of classes such as Aerobalance, Aerial Hoop and flight school designed to teach you the most popular moves and transitions to get you gliding through the stunts.

Whistle Punks Axe Throwing

  1. Throw axes at things

Fancy competitively hurling axes at targets? Situated in the Great Northern Warehouse, Whistle Punks Urban Axe Throwing gives you the opportunity to launch metal hatchets at targets in a unique axetravaganza experience. 

  1. Base MCR

With 3 batting cages named after 3 of the most famous baseball playing fields in America, Base MCR offers visitors the chance to bat balls while sipping on craft beer and indulging in real American snacks. Grab a hotdog, peanut butter pretzels, twizzlers and popcorn to name but a few. Ok so this might not be sport in its purest form…

  1. Ping Pong extreme

Twenty Twenty Two is a seven day a week hang-out with ping pong playable all night long. The bar staff will be on hand to test the skills, challenge visitors to a game or referee any dodgy line calls. There’s an eclectic drinks menu on offer each and every day, including a happy hour of bargain basement prices, and special offers on Prosecco and cocktails from start to finish every Wednesday. 

  1. Set yourself a challenge

Aerial treks, climbing walls, traversing beams and a leap of faith, all in a day’s work at Challenge 4 Change. Based in Trafford Park, this unique indoor urban activity centre is a one of a kind venue fit for all the family. The 19,000 sq. foot arena can also accommodate individuals with physical and learning disabilities over the age of 10 years old, meaning everyone can get involved!

  1. Fancy yourself as the next Tony Hawk?

With the opportunity to go biking, scooting, climbing and skateboarding, Graystone Action Sports Centre certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. Rapidly becoming the hub for action sports in the north west, its renowned skatepark is a haven for skateboarding, scooters, inline and BMX biking - freestyle skiing, snowboarding, and soon to be opened gymnastics, cheerleading, parkour and bouldering zone.

Get Outdoors

  1. Find tranquillity in Didsbury

A hidden green haven in the centre of Didsbury Village, Fletcher Moss is renowned for its botanical beauty. The park has maintained many of its original features since it was acquired in 1914, such as its rock and heather gardens, its alpine house and a collection of unusual plants and flowers.

  1. Try out the largest sculpture route in the UK

Extending over 33 miles through Salford, Bury and Rossendale, the Irwell Sculpture Trail isn’t something you’re likely to achieve in a day, though makes a great (free) day out for all the family. Pick a section of the trail, and admire the local landscape and fascinating backdrop on offer.

  1. Wythenshawe Park

This beautiful park is set in 109 hectares of open parkland in South Manchester, with historic and ornamental woodlands, herbaceous borders, formal bedding, open grassland and beautiful wildflower meadows. Wythenshawe Park is steeped in history and there are three Grade II Listed Buildings located within the park: North Lodge, the Statue of Oliver Cromwell and Wythenshawe Hall.

  1. Take a walk with an impressive backdrop

Reddish Vale Country Park can be accessed via the Peak Forest Canal trail. While this country park is not so hidden in terms of discoverability, its location makes it difficult for you to believe that you’re only 6 miles from the bustling streets of Manchester and just 2 miles from the centre of Stockport. In fact, if it wasn’t for the impressive stature of the viaduct cutting through the woodland’s skyline, it will be hard to believe you’re close to a bustling town at all during your visit.

Healey Dell Nature Reserve

  1. Find yourself amongst wildlife

Healey Dell is a beauty spot and wildlife sanctuary rich in industrial archaeology, towards Whitworth and Bacup in Rochdale. The River Spodden has carved its way through the woodlands over thousands of years, which has created delightful scenery and spectacular waterfalls, which were once responsible for powering ancient corn, wool and cotton mills. After a walk why not treat yourself to a drink in the Victorian themed tea rooms, serving English cream teas served in vintage bone-china.

  1. Enjoy a peaceful canal-side setting

With its picturesque half-timbered houses, and tranquil canal setting, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere else. Worsley is a gem in Salford and there is a 3-mile circular walk around Worsley which takes in the picturesque village, the Bridgewater Canal, its fascinating heritage and explores the rich woodland area of Worsley Woods.

  1. Take a hike in Bolton’s countryside

Rivington Pike is located on the West Pennine Moors in Bolton. Taking in the Grade II listed Rivington Hall Barn, meander through the stunning Rivington terraced Gardens, as well as the wonderfully romantic Japanese Gardens. On a clear day from the summit of Rivington Pike Tower, you might be able to spot The Lake District, Blackpool Tower, and the Isle of Man.

  1. See the city from above

Extending for 200 acres, Werneth Low is only 9.5 miles from the city centre of Manchester, with unprecedented views across the entire city. It’s a haven for wildlife and an area where visitors can find a place to relax and take a quiet walk through the countryside.

  1. Find nature in Chorlton’s reserve

Chorlton  also  offers  up  easy  escapes  into nature  in  the  form  of  Chorlton Water Park and Chorlton Ees Nature Reserve with its woodland and meadow trails. A 58-hectare site designated as Site of Biological Importance, this nature reserve really does offer up some tranquillity in the centre of one of Manchester’s most bohemian neighbourhoods.

Alternative Shopping

  1. Get a little crafty

Rooted firmly into Manchester’s history (since 1886, no less) Fred Aldous has grown over the last 128 years to provide the region with all the arts and crafts materials it could so desire. Set over three floors, it’s relatively easy to get lost in here for a few hours if you’re the crafty type. With its laser cutting studio, Risograph printer and photography studio, Fred Aldous has also become a hub where makers and creatives can hire out these spaces to produce their work.

  1. Go designer

A multi-brand womenswear and lifestyle store, Nola Boutique is heavily focussed on considered, modern design with an emphasis on ‘buy less, buy better. The selection of labels is constantly evolving with new brands being added each season, mixing up and coming designers with more established brands.

  1. Stay on Form

Tucked away on a Northern Quarter side street, all of the pieces at Form Lifestyle Store have been carefully selected with a focus on design, function and simplicity. Their spiral staircase is perhaps the most photographed in Manchester.

Northern Quarter Shopping

  1. Classic, with a twist

The ultimate selection of classic, functional outerwear with innovative contemporary labels and a serious arsenal of casual footwear, Oi Polloi is a one stop shop for some of the best classic and contemporary men’s clothing and footwear.

  1. Find your endless love

Something of an institution in Greater Manchester, Endless Music is the North-West’s leading vinyl music store. Having been in the record business for almost 20 years, this Prestwich-based store is proud to supply vinyl to some of Manchester’s foremost DJ’s.

  1. Shop inside history

Once the hub of the world’s cotton trade, The Royal Exchange Manchester is now an eclectic collection of luxury retailers, premium high street brands and best in class independent boutique shops playing a key role in Manchester’s thriving shopping and lifestyle culture.

  1. Get decorative in Stockport’s heritage

If you fancy something a little more eclectic for the home, Agapanthus Interiors in Stockport is the place to go. Specialising in European chandeliers and hand painted antique furniture, they carefully source decorative furniture and homewares from across the UK and Europe.

  1. Go bespoke

Hand-fashioned, beautiful and bespoke corsetry and clothing for women available at the heart of the Northern Quarter. Kiku Boutique is based at 100 Tib Street and boasts the services of skilled designers, a milliner and a corsetiere – making it the place for truly special dresses, corsets and head-gear. 

  1. I wanna rock and roll all night...

A self-confessed ‘Emporium of Rock ‘n’ Roll Delight’, Rockers is home to vintage rock ‘n’ roll inspired clothing and accessories. Established in 2003 and situated in the heart of the Northern Quarter, you can pick up everything from jeans and tees to ornaments and swing dresses.

  1. Pick up quirky gifts and homeware

One of the city’s favourite gift and homeware stores, Oklahoma is spread out over 2000 square foot of floor space and is packed to the rafters with vibrant and colourful products. From kitchenware to jewellery, cards, wraps, books & Stationery, retro sweets, tin toys, novelty items and curiosities from around the world, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

  1. Get lost in one of Manchester’s oldest book shops

An absolute treasure trove of collectibles, comics and second-hand books, Paramount Books’ unchanged outdoor signage is familiar to many. It’s a little like taking a step back in time when entering this wonderful establishment, with bookshelves overflowing and authentic tunes being played over a speaker system almost as old as the shop itself.

  1. Explore a true Manchester legend

A Manchester legend since the 1980’s, Empire Exchange has had many a shop across the city, though the concept has never changed. Now at its current home in Piccadilly Gardens, Empire stocks everything from militaria, vinyl’s, antiquities, sporting paraphernalia and literature, this really is the hidden treasure of Manchester’s shopping scene.




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