Things to do in Manchester

If you are looking for things to do in Manchester, then Manchester International Festival is one of the absolute best occasions during which to visit Manchester, a city already filled with innovative cultural hotspots, and further transformed by 18 extraordinary days of world premieres and special events. The home of the Festival is Festival Square, in the heart of the city in front of the Town Hall, and reconfigured for MIF19 with a large new stage: a celebratory atmosphere radiates throughout the city from the freely accessible programme of live music and DJ sets here, as well as the superb, independent food and drink stands. From special events to dishes from some of Manchester’s favourite kitchens, the Square is a hub for some of the best cooking in the region.

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Things to do at MIF19

There’s much that makes Manchester International Festival exceptional. Its ambition is immense: the Festival commissions a vast and pioneering programme of work by internationally-renowned artists every other year. It animates some of Manchester’s most unusual, hidden spaces. It proudly premieres progressive, experimental new work, using cutting-edge technology. Where else might you find a theatre collective performing explosive new work in found locations across the city, a virtual reality lunar expedition taking place inside a theatre studio, and fantastical, imaginary vistas created using projection mapping in a former railway depot?

Where to stay in Manchester

From the budget to the boutique, Manchester’s best hostels and hotels each have something to recommend them, whether it’s the beautifully-converted, historic building they occupy, or the sociable nightlife they encourage. Here’s a selection of distinctive places to stay – either overnight, or for longer.

Things to do in Manchester

Manchester International Festival takes place in some of Manchester’s world-class cultural spaces, as well as transforming former railway depots, disused market halls and gardens. It’s an astonishing way to get to grips with a range of the city’s defining sites; enhance your visit by exploring more of the city’s best venues, starting with these highlights.

Food & Drink in Manchester

Delicious food and drink is one of MIF’s Festival Square’s great strengths: the resident kitchens and bars there are part of what make it a genuinely vibrant and fun place to hang out. It’s the home of the Festival in the heart of the city – and happily surrounded by more great options for drinking and dining. These are our top picks.

Shopping in Manchester

The Northern Quarter – a jumbled network of streets to one side of Piccadilly Gardens – was once home to industrious textile warehouses; these red-brick buildings are now filled with independent businesses, and regularly used as film sets. This is the most interesting part of the city to shop if you’re looking for quality, craft, and items you won’t find elsewhere.