Manchester: Free things to do
Us northerners have a reputation for being cheap, but only because there’s so much good stuff to do in the North on a tight budget. And anyway, we’re not cheap, everywhere else is just expensive.
Whether it’s culture, music, or markets, whatever you’re into there’s loads to do for free in Manchester City Centre, and some of it might surprise you. So, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of all the free things you can do on your trip to the city centre.
Things to do for free in Manchester City Centre #1: Museums
We’re of the opinion that Manchester City Centre is home to the best museums in the UK (just try and prove us wrong, we dare you) and you get to see many of them for free.
First up, The People’s History Museum is like no other in the country, it’s right in Manchester’s City Centre and you can go for free (and it’s also Ian McKellen recommended) You can explore the history of our democracy right from the 18th Century to now, see the world’s largest and most impressive collection of political banners, sashes and political posters, and learn about key political happenings with their interactive exhibits. Basically, it’s really cool and nowhere else quite like it.
If political history is your thing, be sure to also visit The Pankhurst Centre, the very house where the first suffragette movement meeting happened. It’s the only museum dedicated to the story of the fight for women’s right to vote, so when it comes to looking for something free to do in Manchester City Centre, this place ranks pretty high.
Not quite up your (Downing) street? Head over to Manchester Museum instead and take a selfie with Stan the T-Rex. He’s the second most complete T-Rex skeleton in the world, but he’s the number one selfie spot. You can enjoy hundreds of fossils, trees from centuries ago and prehistoric creatures for free. There’s also a vivarium where you can not only see but also partake in conservation efforts for some of the world’s most endangered hopping creatures.
Buckle up and prepare to be blown away by the Science and Industry Museum. It’s located on the site of the world’s oldest passenger railway station in Manchester’s City Centre. Inside its doors you’ll be wowed by exhibitions on the big ideas that changed the world from the Industrial Revolution to the first Baby computer and beyond.
Things to do for free in Manchester City Centre #2: Gigs
When we said that Manchester was the second city we weren’t kidding, and we’re pretty sure it’s also the best city. Not only is it the city that changed the music industry globally, but it also offers a lot of free live music right in Manchester City Centre, what more could you want?
Once upon a time, musician’s Matt and Phred wanted to create a place where anybody and everybody could enjoy live music. That’s when they opened…Matt & Phred’s in Manchester’s City Centre. Put your jazz hands away and get prepared for some smooth listening because Thursday nights are free. Head over to the hidden NQ venue, forget about the Friday hangover and enjoy a full night of live music right next to an open bar.
Sundays and Mondays at Bunny Jackson’s Juke Joint are definitely hopping. It’s the only place you can get free live music, 20p wings, free pool and a killer jukebox in one place in Manchester City Centre. It’s the perfect destination on a budget, and with its wings and live music combo, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable night.
It’s weird. It’s wild. It’s wunderbar – it’s Albert’s Schloss. Their ‘Seven Days of Showtime’ programme is unmissable. It’s a place where you’re invited to beat the Tuesday blues with live tunes, spend an evening around a grand piano and make endless requests, or kick off your weekend with their haus band and artistes. It’s basically cabaret heaven, for free, in Manchester City Centre, so make sure you go and get your slice.
Things to do for free in Manchester City Centre #3: The Streets
You don’t always have to go somewhere to see something when you’re visiting the city – there’s actually free things to do all over the streets.
Take a little walk to Castlefield, the UK’s first Urban Heritage Park. There you’ll find cobblestones, railway viaducts, red brick warehouses, tramlines and canals that are a proud part of the North’s Industrial Revolution past. You can take all of it in for free, away from the Manchester City Centre traffic, and you can always stroll into one of the great bars in the area afterwards.
What’s a city without a Cathedral? Er, well, not a city. Lucking Manchester City Centre has one, it’s a beautiful one at that, and it’s free to visit. It’s 600 years old and has survived all of the city’s vibrant history from Industrial Revolution to war. It’s located in the Medieval Quarter, which if anything, sounds like a really cool place to go.
When looking for amazing free things in Manchester’s City Centre you have to visit Northern Quarter. It’s known for being the hip and happening part of the city (it’s a lot cooler than that sentence we promise) and it’s got everchanging art lining every street corner you turn. Each street has painted stones somewhere, or a famous poem set in cast iron on the pavement, or even its own special typeface for the street signs.