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Things to do in Manchester

Fancy seeing a T-Rex, having a barrel of laughs or browsing an eclectic array of shops? Then head to Manchester for the weekend on a Travelodgical staycation.

Explore the wonders of Manchester’s museums

Whether you’re more interested in art, history or the natural world, Manchester is awash with fantastic museums. Dinosaurs, frogs and the Egyptians are all on display at the Manchester Museum. Inside, you can meet Stan the T-Rex (one of the most complete tyrannosaurus skeletons ever found), get up close with some of the rarest amphibians and reptiles on the planet, and discover one of the UK’s biggest collections of Egyptian artefacts. Take a trip back in time at the Museum of Science and Industry, and learn all about Manchester’s industrial past. You can also test your reactions against the speed of light and watch your skeleton ride a bike at one of the hands-on exhibits at the Experiment! interactive gallery.

Art-lovers should head to the award-winning Whitworth Art Gallery. Named the 2015 Museum of the Year by the Art Fund, the gallery boasts an incredible, varied collection of historic and contemporary art, from JMW Turner to Renoir and Barbara Hepworth. Meanwhile, the fascinating People’s History Museum traces the story of democracy in Manchester, with exhibits on the 1819 Peterloo Massacre and the rise of the trades unions and Suffragettes. Other museums in the city worth a visit include the Imperial War Museum North and the Manchester Art Gallery.

Shop until you drop

Manchester is a shopper’s paradise – home to everything from mega shopping centres to high-street favourites and quirky boutiques. Department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols are among the big names to be found in the city’s central shopping hub, around Exchange Square and Market Street. The Arndale Centre houses high-street brands such as TopShop and Next, and for high-end designer brands, head to The Avenue in Spinningfields, where you’ll find labels including Armani and Mulberry.

Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter is packed with all manner of one-off shops, including local favourite Afflecks – an eclectic emporium of fancy-dress and second-hand clothing – and the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, where artists and designers display and sell their wares. Music-lovers will enjoy rummaging through independent record stores Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange and Eastern Bloc Records. But if you’re looking for a shopping behemoth that has all your favourite high-street staples under one roof, visit the Trafford Centre, five miles west of the centre. It’s a gigantic, gaudy affair complete with glitzy palm trees and faux classical statues.

Take a trip around the gastronomic world

Whether you’re in the mood for Indian, Mexican, Greek, Oriental, Lebanese or modern British, you’ll be spoilt for choice by the restaurants in Manchester. The city has one of the most exciting food scenes in the country, with new places to eat popping up all the time. You can head Down Under to the Australasia Restaurant for modern Aussie cuisine, or try Albert’s Shed for modern British. Malaysian restaurant Penang, in the Northern Quarter, is popular with locals, as is gourmet pizza chain Croma, while Tattu offers a fresh take on Chinese cooking. If you’re looking for somewhere extra-special, Manchester has a number of fine dining restaurants, including the swanky Brasserie ABode restaurant and Simon Rogan’s The French at The Midland Hotel. For a quick bite during the day, try The Koffee Pot or tea specialist Teacup Kitchen, both in the Northern Quarter.

Enjoy a night of music, comedy or theatre

There are plenty of fun things to do out in Manchester after dark, from soaking up some culture at the theatre to taking in the next big thing in music. The city is home to numerous theatres staging everything from plays and musicals to ballet and opera; popular venues include the Lyric Theatre at The Lowry theatre and gallery complex, the Opera House Manchester and the Palace Theatre. Many performances are postponed unfortunately until 2021, but venues are now taking future advanced bookings so you can plan ahead.

Manchester has a long association with music, with the likes of The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Oasis all hailing from the city, so it’s no surprise it’s packed with places to enjoy live bands. The Rolling Stones and Dolly Parton are some of the musical superstars to have played at the Manchester Arena, while the O2 Apollo has featured acts including Motörhead and Jess Glynne in recent years. The Albert Hall, Band on the Wall and Gorilla are great for more eclectic artists.

Other venues such as Victoria Warehouse and Bridgewater Hall also offer fantastic live music. Many of the live music venues across Manchester are gearing up for an amazing 2021 comeback with shows from the likes of Dua Lipa, Snoop Dogg and Gregory Porter at the Manchester Arena, Katherine Jenkins and The Shires at The Bridgewater Hall, and Chase and Status and The Specials at the O2 Victoria Warehouse.  Fancy a barrel of laughs? Head over to The Frog & Bucket. Its amateur comedy night, Beat the Frog, takes place every Monday and has welcomed the likes of John Bishop, Sarah Millican and Peter Kay before they were famous. Advanced booking is advised.

Why not take a look at our hotels in Manchester and indulge in everything this city has to offer.