Manchester Art and Culture

Manchester has been called the new cultural hotspot of the UK. The city has underwent a massive cultural change since the 2002 Commonwealth Games and has focused on the arts. The city is now home to many festivals, venues and galleries that line the city’s streets.

A wide range of hotels and restaurants have opened to accommodate the boom in tourism due to the rise of the art and culture scene.

The city is known for its artistic style, theaters, music scene and robust architecture. The city’s population has grown by 20% in the last decade, making it a popular place to live.

Art and Art Galleries

A city of art, Manchester is home to numerous art galleries. The Whitworth Gallery is a prime example of how the city’s art culture and underwent a multi-million pound redevelopment. The glass-promenade gallery overlooks the Art Garden and the permanent collection features textiles, wallpapers and a range of fine art.

HOME, a multi-artform centre opened in the city with five cinema screens, programs for film, visual art, drawings and more. HOME also features a 500 seat theatre.

Art prominence came to the city in 1857 when the Art Treasures of Great Britain was held in the Manchester. The exhibition is the largest in the UK and attracted 1.3 million people. The exhibition housed over 16,000 pieces of art.

Popular art galleries in the city include:

  • Manchester Art Gallery
  • Chinese Art Gallery
  • Cube Gallery
  • Castlefield Gallery

Works from Vincent van Gogh, Epstein and Picasso can be seen in the Whitworth Art Gallery, too.

Manchester Museums

Museums are scattered across the city, with the Manchester Museum being a must-visit. The museum holds vast collections and numerous pieces from Egypt and natural history. The museum first opened in 1888.

Castlefield holds the Mamucium, an old Roman fort, reconstruction.

The city’s rich past can be relived in the many museums, including the:

  • People’s History Museum
  • Museum of Transport
  • National Football Museum

Another must-see is the Manchester Jewish Museum on Cheetam Hill, which recalls the story of the Jewish community in the city.

Manchester’s Music Scene

Manchester is home to the Halle and BBC Philharmonic. The two orchestras are world-known. Brass band music is popular in Manchester and is a part of the city’s musical heritage. The music has led to numerous big named bands in the city, including:

  • CWS
  • Fairey Band of Heaton Chapel

The Whit Friday contest is held in neighboring cities and is based on brass bands.

Pop music has been a cultural driver in Manchester since the 1960s and the city is where the Sex Pistols changed the music scene in 1976. The Fall, Smiths and Buzzcocks all played a significant part in Manchester’s pop music scene.

Literary Importance

Manchester has had a major impact on literature for over 400 years. The city was the focal point of A history of the towne of Manchester, which was written by Richard Hollingworth who died in 1656.

John Byrom wrote the Christians, Awake Christmas hymn.

The Manchester Weekly Journal began production in 1719 as the city’s first newspaper. Manchester’s Literary and Philosophical Society was formed in 1781, with numerous libraries scattered through the city today:

  • The John Rylands Library
  • Manchester Central Library
  • Portico Library
  • Chetham’s Library

Literature still plays a key role in Manchester life, with notable writers in the 20th and 21st century, including:

  • Anthony Burgess – A Clockwork Orange
  • Howard Jacobson – The Mighty Walzer
  • Val McDermid
  • Jeff Noon


The Theatre Royal was the first theatre in Manchester and opened in 1775. Known for its excellent theatres, Manchester is home to the Manchester Opera House, Palace Theatre, Library Theatre and the Royal Exchange Théâtre to name a few.

Smaller theatres are becoming popular in the city, with the Green Room and Contact Theatre among the popular smaller theatres in town.

Sports and Culture

Manchester’s sports culture is as popular as the city’s theatre, music and literary scene. The sports culture revolves around two main teams:

  • Manchester United
  • Manchester City

The city has lost two bids to be home to the Olympic Games. The city decided to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games in the city, offering first class facilities and surpassing all expectations. The games are responsible for the city’s current boom and helped London to win the bid to host the 2012 Olympic games.

Old pubs and buildings remain permanent fixtures of the city’s past, with the city having many Victorian origin pubs. While the number has dwindled in the past 2 – 3 decades, there are still pubs in Deansgate that date back to the 1800s. Many of these buildings have undergone renovations and refurbishment, but the owners often keep the main elements in place to offer an architectural pleasantry when entering.

The city is also home to the Manchester International Festival, with 18 days of performances and events. Many consider the festival the most important festival today.