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
RHS Garden Bridgewater, a new 154-acre garden in Salford and the biggest hands-on horticultural project undertaken in Europe, is now open. Featuring a Weston Walled Garden (one of the largest in the UK), a visitor centre and café, community teaching allotments, a Kitchen Garden, orchards, a woodland play area, and a Chinese Streamside Garden, alongside Ellesmere Lake, woodland and other garden spaces – around 7.8 million people living within an hour’s journey time of the garden can now access world-class horticultural inspiration and expertise.
VISIT: New Special Exhibitions Gallery at the Science and Industry Museum
Opened on 19 May, the brand-new gallery reveals 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 has launched with a free exhibition called Top Secret which explores 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
19 May saw 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 adds a new dimension to the visitor experience, revealing more of her character and life as an author in Victorian times. Also new for the reopening is a brand new exhibition, A Love Affair with Cranford, which explores the many different dynamics of one of Elizabeth Gaskell’s most popular novels. 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 opened on 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 – comprises of a restaurant and bar on the ground floor and a stunning concert hall on the first floor. The concert hall is 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
Opened on 19 May and now running until 31 October, Manchester Art Gallery presents 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.
DO: Scranchester’s new Ancoats food tour
Take a culinary tour of Ancoats, the world’s first industrial suburb where an award-winning chip shop (which pays homage to hip-hop) sits alongside a Michelin starred fine dining restaurant. The new Ancoats Explorer food tour tells the story of how a rural landscape on the outskirts of Manchester, with a scattering of farms and cottages, was transformed into one of the most densely populated industrial landscapes in the world with multi-storey steam powered mills which were hailed as a marvel of the Late Georgian era. Hear tales of Victorian Street gangs, Italian ice cream empires and satanic mills. By the end of the 20th century the industry had gone, the mills were empty and the area rundown. The reverse of this decline started with the New Islington housing project and the area can now be found on lists of ‘hippest’ neighbourhoods (Ancoats was listed in Time Out’s 50 hippest neighbourhoods in the world). Ancoats is now home to some of the city’s best independent eateries and bars and the Ancoats Explorer tour will show you around the best of them, make sure you come hungry!
EAT: People’s History Museum partners with Open Kitchen
People’s History Museum has brought 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 is now open and is the first museum cafe and bar in the country that intercepts food that would otherwise go to waste.
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 is 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. Launched on 20 May, the 8,000 sq ft hub features five independently-owned kitchens, a cocktail bar and specialist taproom by Hebden Bridge-based craft brewery Vocation. Traders 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 have launched their new concept Dokes Pizzeria at Society, serving fresh stone-baked pizzas.
DRINK: new cocktail spot from award-winning brothers
Opened mid-May, ATOMECA, a partnership with award-winning bartending duo Joe and Daniel Schofield and wine expert James Brandwood, provides Manchester’s newest public square with its first ‘European Drinkery’. Designed by award-winning Lister+Lister, the interior architects of the main lobby space of Deansgate Square, ATOMECA is an all-day venue, championing the best drink and food from the UK and continental Europe, located adjacent to the central concierge space. Fronting onto the River Medlock, with both indoor and outdoor seating, the venue will serve both residents and the public. ATOMECA is the first of many food and drink operators due to arrive at Deansgate Square over the course of 2021.
STAY: Environmentally friendly green hotel opening on Deansgate
Climate conscious brand Qbic has brought their fourth European hotel to Manchester, with pre-configured rooms made from largely recycled materials taking home in a former office block. Opened 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: BrewDog to open England’s first beer hotel in Manchester
Scottish beer brewing giants BrewDog have announced that they will open their first hotel in England in July, following the success of their DogHouse brand in Scotland and the USA. The 18-bedroom hotel, bar and restaurant will be centrally located just off Manchester’s Market Street. Not shy of innovation, plans suggest that the hotel will feature Punk IPA on tap in every room, beer fridges in the showers, a rooftop terrace with fire pit, and will allow guests to bring their pets. At reception, guests will receive a welcome beer on arrival from one of the 28 unique beers on tap.
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.