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Manchester Craft & Design Centre, Manchester
Photograph: Craft and Design CentreCraft & Design Centre, Manchester

Things to do in the Northern Quarter

Our pick of the best things to keep you busy in the Northern Quarter

Rob Martin
Written by
Rob Martin

The Northern Quarter's not just about all the trendy restaurants, bars and pubs - there's a lot more to keep you entertained. You can even keep it cultural, should that kind of thing tickle your biscuits. We've put together our favourite bits and bobs to do in the area, so take a look and walk straight past that inviting pub door... you'll be grateful, promise.

Northern Quarter things to do

  • Music
  • Music venues

Band on the Wall represents a real musical success story for the city of Manchester. Funded by both the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Arts Council, the venue has been extended for 2022 to accommodate more live music and ambitious plans for music education in World of Music. The building is over 200 years old and, when it started life as a live music venue, the band played on a stage built halfway up the wall. Hence the name...

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés

An Aladdin's cave of delights, Oklahoma is a gift buyer's dream shop, with the emphasis firmly on the kitsch. It's packed to the rafters with exotic homeware, fabulous things for the kitchen, toys, games, book and cards, plus jewellery. It's not huge but you'll find yourself getting lost as you browse.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian

This is the best Indian street food in the city and the menu, combined with some very drinkable craft ales, makes for a very popular whilst having to be in-the-know kind of feel.

It's entirely vegetarian or vegan and the combo platters are tremendous.

  • Shopping
  • Art, craft and hobbies

Awarded 'Best Independent Retailer' at the 2013 Manchester Tourism Awards, Manchester Craft & Design Centre boasts over 30 artists, designers and craft makers under one roof. MCDC lies in the heart of the Northern Quarter, offering an impressive array of quality goods that you won't find on the high street – handmade, bespoke and personal. 

National Football Museum
  • Museums
  • Sport
Housed inside one of the most impressive of Manchester City Centre's modern buildings, the former URBIS museum, this four-floor monument to football boasts that it contains the greatest football collection in the world. It’s the permanent home to the FIFA collection, the Football League collection, the FA collection and many more, and it works towards the preservation and conservation of such memorabilia. 
  • Shopping
  • Arcades

Established in 1982, Afflecks is a bit of a Manchester institution. And it's easy to see why, with an admirable indie spirit courtesy of some very cool shops, bars, tattoo parlours, skate shops, events and pleasant people. Definitely somewhere to seek out.  

Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art
  • Art
  • Galleries
Formally known as the Chinese Arts Centre, the Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art works to bring Chinese art and visual culture to a UK audience. Working with a four-strong team of associate curators based in East Asia - each specialising in a particular strand of the centre's artistic programme - this Northern Quarter building brings exhibitions, artists in residence, engagement projects, festivals, talks and events.

Established over 30 years ago, this beating heart at the centre of the Northern Quarter's music scene, having seen over 26,000 bands perform there. It nurtured the talents of Elbow, Delphic, Badly Drawn Boy, and saw the likes of Johnny Marr and Mark E. Smith in frequent attendance. Go for some music, go for a pint, go for some grub or even catch an exhibition.


The rise of vegan options in the Northern Quarter increased massively with the opening of Purezza, a fully plant-based pizzeria where everything, wine included, is fully vegan. And don't fret about the side dishes or the cheese topping, it's all delicious and, as an extra treat, dogs are allowed. 

Abode Manchester
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels

Nicely placed for Manchester Piccadilly station and the shopping and drinking delights of the Northern Quarter, Abode hotel is housed in a nineteenth-century textile factory and retains some handsome period features. Bedrooms and suites are decorated in a quietly quirky, modern style; suites come with extras such as Nespresso machines and Bose sound systems. There are two bars and a modern European restaurant.

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