Salford: Free things to do
Are you looking for free things to do in Salford on a quiet afternoon or a weekend? Sit tight, and we’ll share with you our favourite things to do that don’t break the bank in Salford.
Free things to do in Salford #1: Visit The Lowry
You might associate The Lowry with being big, grand, and putting on a show you have to buy tickets for, but The Lowry actually offers lots of free activities.
If you’ve got little ones, check out the free workshops they run for families all year round. There’re things suitable for all ages. Your babies can enjoy Babies Playtime with early years practitioners, play games and make friends in a creative educational setting. For those, a little older, workshops like Little Creatives are available, including music making, storytelling, and messy play (where you don’t have to clean up after!). All The Lowry’s family workshops are free and a perfect way to occupy and tire out your tots.
See the industrial North through the eyes of Salford’s most famous artist, Laurence Stephen Lowry – the local artist that The Lowry Gallery is named after. He’s most well-known for his mill scenes and industrial landscapes, but his work covers a wide range of themes and subjects, from landscapes and seascapes to portraits and surreal imaginings. You can view his body of work for free at The Lowry in their permanent exhibit, which has the largest collection of LS Lowry work on display in the world.
The Lowry Galleries offer more than just Lowry, they have an ever-changing programme of art exhibitions in all different mediums and subjects that you can enjoy for free all year round.
Free things to do in Salford #2: See MediaCityUK
MediaCityUK is the production heart of Greater Manchester. Its foundations are built on one of the world’s biggest industrial ports in history. Manchester Ship Canal was one of the greatest feats of Victorian engineering connecting Manchester and Salford to the rest of the world. It revolutionised the global textile trade and put Manchester on the map, and it still is today. What once was the site of industrial innovation is now a hub for technology innovation instead. As we speak, MediaCity is writing a whole new history for Manchester Docks to be told alongside its Victorian-era stories for years to come.
You can explore MediaCity on foot for free. On the footbridge, you can stand over the Ship Canal and look onto BBC offices on one side with the permanent Coronation Street set on the other. If you go for a wander, you’ll spot the infamous Blue Peter Garden. The garden is known by generations of viewers and was moved to Salford from London when the BBC Children’s TV department moved. In the garden, there’s footprints in cement from Blue Peter presenters and a memorial to Petra, the first ever Blue Peter dog. If you’re lucky, you might even see them filming.
If you work up an appetite on your exploration of MediaCity then head over to one of their amazing restaurants or bars to put your feet up. Here’s our favourite MediaCity eateries.
Free things to do in Salford #3: Enjoy a walk with a view
You can’t beat a scenic walk on a nice day. Kersal wetlands nature walk is one of the nicest things to do in Salford. It’s free, active, and you can definitely take some nice snaps if you want. There are views of the Manchester skyline peeping out from the green, and there’s the woodlands of Kersal Dale and the River Irwell. Overall there are 10 hectares (a lot) of wildflower habitat to explore whether you’re walking, running or biking.
If the Kersal wetlands have wetted (ha) your appetite for a nature walk, then you might want to try Bridgewater Canal. From Patricroft, you’ll be able to see trees and quaint moored boats. Once you get to Monton, there’s a full-size lighthouse (which is home to some locals, so don’t get too close!), and it’s one of the only lighthouses on an inland waterway. On the next stretch, there’s some cool history. In 1851 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert took a barge to Worsley, which you can read all about on the history boards that line the canal. History and beautiful scenery, all for free.
Sometimes you want something free to do that keeps the kids entertained too, that’s where Salford delivers. The Clifton Country Park Fairytale Trail is bound to keep little ones delighted as well as spending valuable time outdoors. There’s acres of open woodland and views of the River Irwell, which looks stunning on a sunny day. The Fairytale Trail is a mile long, manageable for little legs, but don’t worry, it’s also buggy friendly just in case. There’re 10 mystical sculptures along the way in the shape of animals that the kids will recognise and the finale on the trail is a Gruffalo sculpture which is delightful for those who love the book. There’s also a playground at the beginning of the trail with free car parking too, so you don’t need to worry about transport either. Simple.
Free things to do in Salford #4: Take a stroll down memory lane
When looking for something free to do in Salford look no further than Ordsall Hall. It’s the oldest building in Salford, dating back to 1117. In its time, it’s been a family home, a working men’s club and a church hall. Now, you can visit and learn the story of the Hall and some of the people who have made it their home over the years. While there, you can dress up like a Tudor, try on chainmail and pretend you’re having a feast around the grand table of the Great Hall. You can also stroll around the allotment herb garden and take pictures with the garden sculptures. Ordsall Hall is completely free all year round and is well worth visiting for some interactive history.
Have you ever wanted to walk down a 19th-century street? Get yourself to Salford Museum and Art Gallery and spend an afternoon at Lark Hill Place. It’s a full-sized replica of the real thing. Soak up the vibes of typical northern Victorian-era street vibes by peering into shop windows and dressing up in traditional costumes. Head to the cobbler and spot the dancing shoes. At Lark Hill Place, it’s always tea-time on a winter’s evening where the gas lights glow in dusk. Admission is entirely free and there’s nothing else quite like it, so make sure it’s on your Salford to-do list.
If you like Salford Museum’s replica of a Victorian street, then why not head out and go and see the real thing? The Chapel Street Heritage Trail takes you to Chapel Street, the first street in the UK to be lit by gas in 1806! The start point is Blackfriars Bridge and it ends at Salford Museum and Gallery. Along the way, you’ll see sites painted by LS Lowry, a monument dedicated to Queen Victoria and the place where Vimto was first mass-produced! There’s a lot of history on this self-guided tour, and you can take it at your own pace. Maybe pop into a pub on your way along for good measure!
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