A city of culture
Manchester is a fantastic mix of history and tradition as well as cutting-edge, world-leading cultural events. With attractions to suit all-comers, it makes for one of the UK's most exciting, interesting and memorable cities to visit.
Here at Holiday Inn Express Salford Quays, we are pleased to present our guide to some of our favourite spots to enjoy a bit of culture in our cool city. Please feel free to have a look and be sure to share your own favourites with us when you visit.
The Salford Quays
Consisting of 5,263 sq metres of glass, The Lowry Arts Centre is a striking, shimmering landmark building down at Salford Quays.
Taking the name of the celebrated Mancunian painter, LS Lowry, the centre houses more than 300 permanent displays of his famous industrial northern landscapes. Seeing the amazing work of Lowry is only the tip of the iceberg however; the Lowry Arts Centre attracts over 1 million visitors per year with a multitude of diverse and eclectic variety of events to stimulate the senses.
There are two main theatres, which although smaller than their city centre counterparts offer a truly intimate atmosphere. Combined with the dance studio, exhibition space and line-up of inspiration guest speakers, the impressive calendar of performances encourages you to keep a look out for the next world-class event taking place.
With great bars and restaurants thrown into the mix, The Lowry Arts Centre is a paradise of activity and a pleasure for lovers.
Sunday to Friday: 11am (Sat 10am) – 5pm
Admission is free
The Manchester Art Gallery is a brilliant oasis from the hive of the city centre, a serene spot right in the middle of the city.
The grade 1 listed building is as incredible as the art contained within. Rooms of gorgeous Victorian plasterwork filled with interesting paintings, pottery, carved ivory, furniture, glassware. The gallery is small enough to spend an hour happily gazing over highlights such as Pre-Raphaelite pieces from John William Waterhouse as well as work from Moreland, Turner, Hockney and Horsfall.
If you have longer, there is also a fine collection of European masters too, displayed with enough space and light to really appreciate their beauty. The Manchester Art Gallery houses a superb collection of interesting art accompanied with a full description of the artists' inspirations, which does well to educate without overwhelming visitors.
Not stuffy or dull and has loads to see and plenty to touch to keep the kids happy too! The interactive section is perfect if you visit with children, allowing them to engage with displays and keep them happy with fun 'tool belts'. When you feel like a treat, head along to the gallery tearoom for some yummy homemade cake!
A must if you're a lover of art, but worthwhile for those with only a passing interest, it is a truly great gallery in a lovely building.
Daily: 10am – 5pm (9pm on Thursday)
Admission is free
St Anns Square
With a vibrant schedule of performances, visit the Royal Exchange Theatre to see a great variety from outstanding plays to special live music acts.
It's almost worth visiting just for the view of the theatre itself, an extraordinary design; described as 'a seven-sided, glass walled capsule - suspended from huge marble pillars'. Built in the early 20th century, you'll find the Royal Exchange Theatre nestled inside the old Victorian Cotton Exchange Building in the middle of the city.
With over 350 shows each year, the fascinating design of the Royal Exchange continues on the interior. Any visit will be entirely memorable as the layout ensures that every seat is no less than 9 metres from the stage resulting in a highly intimate, personal experience.
Monday - Saturday: 10am until just before the start of a performance
Sunday: 11am - 5pm
13 Thomas Street
A purpose built gallery tucked away in the city's lively, dynamic Northern Quarter, the Chinese Arts Centre is an ideal celebration of interesting Chinese and Chinese-English contemporary artists.
It's an extremely impressive small gallery, that is definitely worth a visit when you're free in Manchester. The Chinese Arts Centre always keeps its exhibitions fresh and exciting with its well-curated themes changing regularly. Regardless of the exhibition being held, you are sure to see something that you probably won't see anywhere else in Manchester.
Added to the beauty artwork on display are the friendly and knowledgeable staff whom are more than happy to chat about the displays as you enjoy a relaxing wander through the exhibition spaces of stunning drawings, sculpture, photography and video installations.
Then relax in the gorgeous tearoom, sipping from the array of wonderful brews. Try the 'Love at First Sight Flowering Tea' that is as you'd expect from the delightful name is delicious. The gift shop, filled with exclusive handcrafted items from China is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir.
Closed Mondays and Bank Holidays
Admission is free
University of Manchester
Home to some of the finest collections of modern and old-world paintings, textiles and tapestries, The Whitworth Art Gallery, set in stunning parkland is a way to spend an afternoon.
Part of the University of Manchester, the Whitworth ensures there is always a wide variety of artwork on display. From special installations, video art and stunning prints you will see genres of art you might not normally see.
Re-opening in the summer of 2014 after an expert restoration, Whitworth Art Gallery while be sure to keep its relaxed atmosphere, perfect to treat the eyes to Renaissance woodcarvings and work by European masters such as Degas, Munch, Matisse, Picasso and Freud.
When it re-opens, be sure to bring a picnic to enjoy in the magic park or take advantage of the delicious light lunches available in the brilliant gallery 'Café in the Trees'.
With a great atmosphere and beautiful surroundings, visitors to Manchester will be lucky to visit the gem that is the Whitworth Art Gallery.
Monday to Wednesday: 10am - 5pm
Thursday: 10am - 9pm
Friday to Sunday: 10am - 5pm