With Greater Manchester’s visitor economy reopening, we are preparing for an influx of new tourism and hospitality developments in the coming months and have collated some of the most interesting stories that you need to know. We will continue to add to the list so make sure you check back for further updates.
VISIT: Europe’s largest garden project in Salford
The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, has announced that RHS Garden Bridgewater will open its gates on Tuesday 18 May 2021 after the coronavirus pandemic delayed opening plans by almost a year. Tickets for the highly anticipated opening weeks go on sale to the public on 19 April 2021 on the RHS website. The 154-acre garden in Salford is the biggest hands-on horticultural project undertaken in Europe since planning permission was granted in 2017. Around 7.8 million people living within an hour’s journey time of the garden will be able to access world-class horticultural inspiration and expertise at the first ever RHS Garden to be located in an urban area.
VISIT: New Special Exhibitions Gallery at the Science and Industry Museum
This new gallery will reveal striking historic spaces on the lower ground floor of the Science and Industry Museum’s Grade II listed New Warehouse. It has been designed by award-winning architects, Carmody Groarke, and will originate and host some of the world’s best science exhibitions, helping to establish the museum as a beacon for contemporary science and a major cultural destination for years to come. The Special Exhibitions Gallery will launch on 19 May 2021 with a free exhibition called Top Secret which will explore over a century’s worth of communications intelligence through hand-written documents, declassified files and previously unseen artefacts from the Science Museum Group’s and GCHQ’s historic collections – time to channel your inner James Bond!
VISIT: Bedroom of celebrated author Elizabeth Gaskell
May will see the opening of a new chapter for Elizabeth Gaskell’s House with the public launch of the celebrated author’s bedroom; recreated to reflect how it would have looked when she lived at the property. Elizabeth Gaskell’s bedroom will add a new dimension to the visitor experience, revealing more of her character and life as an author in Victorian times. The Grade II* listed property was restored in 2014, enabling visitors to discover how Elizabeth lived, where she wrote some of her most famous novels, where she entertained guests, including Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens, and the gardens she cherished. While in the vicinity of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, you can also make a beeline for nearby The Pankhurst Centre – the birthplace of the suffragette movement – which will reopen its doors in summer 2021 with a new permanent exhibition At Home with the Pankhurst Family.
VISIT: Extended, more interactive Manchester Jewish Museum
Manchester Jewish Museum will re-open its doors on 2 July following an extensive makeover and extension that has been two years in the making. The museum, which is housed inside a former synagogue built in 1873, will double in size complete with a brand-new gallery, learning studio and kitchen, shop and café, alongside the majorly renovated synagogue which will also double up as a performance space. The updated building will launch a new programme for the museum, with a commitment to using Jewish stories to connect to the world and to our society. The museum has over 31,000 eclectic objects and personal histories in its collection, telling stories of Jewish Manchester as well as broader stories of migration, communities and identities that are a key part of Greater Manchester’s diverse make-up.
DO: Flavour of Deep South comes to Manchester
The Blues Kitchen Manchester will open on the 20 May 2021, bringing a flavour of the Deep South to the city and enriching the music scene with an incredible live programme, seven nights a week. The two-storey venue on Quay Street – originally built to house a Victorian Eye Hospital – will comprise of a restaurant and bar on the ground floor and a stunning concert hall on the first floor. The concert hall will also open temporarily for Friday and Saturdays from the 20 May for seated entertainment experiences, until the 21 June (subject to further guidelines) when the hall will welcome guests for standing gigs and club nights.
DO: Grayson’s Art Club comes to Manchester Art Gallery
Opening on 19 May and now running until 20 June, Manchester Art Gallery will present a rescheduled exhibition of the art works selected by artist Grayson Perry during Grayson’s Art Club, the popular Channel 4 TV series. All the works on show are very personal visual representations of lockdown, made by the public, well-known artists and celebrities. This celebration of creativity in people’s homes chronicled the changing moods of Britain in isolation, providing a unique record of this globally experienced, extraordinary time. Book here.
DO: HOME launch purpose-built Manchester outdoor theatre for the summer
HOME, Manchester’s largest multi-arts venue, are launching a massive temporary outdoor arts space this summer. The new space, named Homeground will be located on an 80,000ft2 future development site on First Street, just next to HOME. It will feature a 400-seat socially distanced theatre space: the specially designed and purpose built, Covid-safe outdoor theatre. At the heart will be two magical, musical productions of classics: Filter Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a brand-new version of Alice in Wonderland. The new venue opens on Friday, 28 May, and run throughout the summer.
EAT: People’s History Museum partners with Open Kitchen
People’s History Museum is bringing a new food experience to the national museum of democracy and, with it, a sustainable food revolution by partnering with Manchester’s leading conscious food company, Open Kitchen. Open Kitchen at People’s History Museum will be the first museum cafe and bar in the country that intercepts food that would otherwise go to waste and will launch to coincide with the reopening of People’s History Museum on 19 May 2021.
EAT: Sprawling party venue Escape to Freight Island continues to evolve
By far the runaway success of venues that launched during the Covid-19 crisis was Escape to Freight Island when it opened in summer 2020 as a 600-seat open-air venue, with live music and events alongside street-style food and drink from independent traders. The site has been further developed for 2021, taking over the cavernous inner parts of the former Mayfield Station, with more traders, independent shops and long-term plans for live music and club nights. The Kantina Weekender has also been announced for the late May Bank Holiday and promises an incredible line-up of chef and restaurant takeovers including Simon Martin from Manchester’s Michelin-starred restaurant Mana, Mary-Ellen McTague of The Creameries and Where The Light Gets In‘s Sam Buckley.
EAT: New food and entertainment space for Barbirolli Square
A fresh addition for the city’s thriving cultural scene, Society will be a hub for street food, craft beer, wine and cocktails with an impressive line-up of talented independent chefs and a packed programme of events and entertainment. Set to launch in May, the 8,000 sq ft hub will feature five independently-owned kitchens, a cocktail bar and specialist taproom by Hebden Bridge-based craft brewery Vocation. Confirmed traders for the launch include Slap & Pickle diner serving a menu of burgers, vegan burgers and loaded fries; pan-Asian specialists Manzoku Street Food, and a cool Korean concept called Yoki. Completing the line-up, founders of local restaurant Elnecot will launch their new concept Dokes Pizzeria at Society, serving fresh stone-baked pizzas.
STAY: Environmentally friendly green hotel opening on Deansgate
Climate conscious brand Qbic are bringing their fourth European hotel to Manchester, with pre-configured rooms made from largely recycled materials taking home in a former office block. Opening 19 May 2021, the hotel is all about sustainability, rewarding guests with free drinks for choosing green and not having towels or linen changed, using organic mattresses made in the UK, and reducing plastic use by providing filtered water in rooms. The on-site bar and restaurant Motely has a goal to keep all food low-mileage, sourcing from the local area, and offering a large selection of vegetarian and vegan food, paired with local craft beers and signature cocktails. The hotel is also a big fan of pets, allowing guests to bring their four-legged friends on a stay!
STAY: New Kimpton hotel embraces the Spirit of Manchester
Kimpton’s fourth hotel to open in the UK, Kimpton Clocktower Hotel (formerly the Principal Manchester) has recently brought the international brand’s cosmopolitan style, cool culture and luxury service to Manchester. The iconic Grade II* star listed hotel began life in 1895 as The Refuge Assurance Building, and in homage to the origins of the building the hotel’s on-site restaurant The Refuge will continue alongside Kimpton to be one of the most popular restaurant spaces in the city. Kimpton Clocktower might be the latest hotel to rebrand and refurbish, but it’s not alone. Other hotel’s that have taken the opportunity to refresh during the Covid-19 crisis include The Midland, Manchester’s grande dame hotel and 5-star The Edwardian, which has gradually developed with new spa facilities, a highly praised restaurant, Peter Street Kitchen, which brings a fusion of Mexican and Japanese, and a new bar/lounge partnership in The Library curated by Assouline.
EVENT: Floral takeover of Manchester city centre
The Manchester Flower Show returns this May, welcoming visitors back to the city centre with a trail of floral displays, green installations, alfresco dining and entertainment. This year’s event, taking place from Saturday 29 May – Sunday 6 June, will see the city come together to create large-scale blooms and urban gardens, alongside the floral dressing of city centre windows, statues, lamp posts, fountains and more. Creating bold, bright and beautiful paths through the city, landmarks and streets including St Ann’s Square, King Street, New Cathedral Street, Market Street, Exchange Square, Manchester Arndale, Selfridges, The Printworks, Corn Exchange, Manchester Cathedral, Spinningfields, Science and Industry Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery, Circle Square, Stevenson Square, Spinningfields, Great Northern Warehouse and First Street will all come into bloom for the nine day festival.
EVENT: Inaugural Festival of Libraries to take place in June
Manchester City of Literature’s inaugural Festival of Libraries, a brand-new county-wide celebration of Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries will take place from Wednesday 9 to Sunday 13 June 2021. The festival, which is supported by Arts Council England, will feature a vibrant programme that highlights the library network’s full offer, across wellbeing, culture and creativity, digital and information, and, of course, reading. Library partners include: Archives+, Central Library, Chetham’s Library, John Rylands Library, Manchester Poetry Library, NHS Libraries, The Portico Library, Working Class Movement Library, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Greater Manchester libraries (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan).
EVENT: Manchester International Festival to provide a unique snapshot of these unprecedented times
Manchester International Festival (MIF), returns from 1-18 July with a vibrant programme of original new work from across the spectrum of visual and performing arts and music by artists from over 20 countries. Artists include Angélique Kidjo, Akram Khan, Arlo Parks, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Boris Charmatz, Cerys Matthews, Christine Sun Kim, Cillian Murphy, Deborah Warner, Forensic Architecture, Ibrahim Mahama, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Laure Prouvost, Marta Minujín, Lemn Sissay and Patti Smith. Events will take place safely in indoor and outdoor locations across Greater Manchester, including the first ever work on the construction site of The Factory, the landmark cultural space that will be MIF’s future home.
EVENT: 40+ international and UK artist confirmed for Manchester Pride
Manchester Pride is planning to hold its flagship Manchester Pride Festival, in partnership with Virgin Atlantic, in its regular spot in the city’s calendar from Friday 27 August until Monday 30 August. The festival features six key strands: Activism, Equality, Arts and Culture, Youth and Family, Community and Party. Zara Larsson, Sigala, Annie Mac, Gabrielle, Katy B, Example and Eve will lead a stellar line up at this year’s MCR Pride Live on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 August, with one other major artist as headline performer on Saturday – but who will not be revealed until 27 August, right before the bank holiday weekend show.