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

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

  • Museums
  • Sport

Housed inside one of the most impressive Northern Quarter buildings, the former URBIS museum, this four-floor institution contains one of the world’s greatest footy collections. 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. 


Tib Street’s award-winning LGBTQ+ bookshop started life as an online venture but now you can visit in person and peruse thousands of titles covering history, poetry, graphic novels, you name it. There are also clothes and accessories including jewellery and flags.

  • 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 is one of the best in the city for live music. So why the name ‘Band On The Wall’, you ask? Well, when the building started life as a live music venue over 200 years ago, bands played on a stage built halfway up the wall. Pretty nifty, eh? 


A group of independent kitchens and bars have come together to create one of the most vibrant and beautiful places to eat and drink in the entire city, let alone the Northern Quarter. A vast food hall housed inside an 1858 Grade II-listed market building, Mackie Mayor has something to suit every palate, whether you’re after fresh pizza, grilled meats and fish, or a vegan brunch. And if it’s just a nice bottle of wine or a craft ale you’re after? Well, there’s plenty of that, too.

  • Shopping
  • Art, craft and hobbies

Awarded ‘Best Independent Retailer’ at the 2013 Manchester Tourism Awards, Manchester Craft & Design Centre hosts more than 30 artists, designers and craft makers under one roof. It 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. 


For brunch, lunch, coffee or cake, you can’t go wrong with a nice sit down in Ezra and Gil. Established in 2014, it remains one of the most essential venues in the Northern Quarter: relaxed, friendly and with great quality food and drink. Its original mission to create a strong social space has never diminished, making Ezra and Gil the coffee-scented heart of the district.

More than just and arts and crafts shop, Fred Aldous is a Northern Quarter institution, having been around for more than 130 years. Whether you’re looking to top up your paints and brushes, on the hunt for some sequins for a new costume, or just searching inspiring craft ideas for the kids, it’s pretty much your ideal spot. But there’s so much more here, too, with a superb array of cards, gifts, books and other knick-knacks on offer.

  • Art
  • Galleries

Formally known as the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Arts, the esea contemporary works to bring Chinese art and visual culture to UK audiences. Working with a four-strong team of associate curators based in East Asia – each specialising in a particular strand of the centre’s programme – expect exhibitions, artists in residence, engagement projects, festivals, talks and events.

This music venue at the heart of the Northern Quarter’s music scene has seen more than 26,000 bands perform on its stage over the past three decades. It nurtured the talents of Elbow, Delphic, Badly Drawn Boy, and saw the likes of Johnny Marr and Mark E. Smith in regular attendance. Go for some music, grab a pint or catch an exhibition during the day.

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