Updated: April 2023
Greater Manchester has been named as a must-see destination for 2023, with four leading travel publications placing the city-region on their lists for the year ahead. Lonely Planet has added Manchester to its Best in Travel List 2023, National Geographic says we’re Best of the World 2023, and both Conde Nast Traveler and TimeOut have named Manchester as one of the best UK cities to visit!
The latest update of our Tourism Watchlist features countless reasons to visit Manchester in 2023 and includes a round-up of key stories and openings you should have on your radar for the year ahead. Curated by Marketing Manchester, the tourism board for the region, it features what to expect from key cultural moments and exciting hotel developments to the booming food and drink scene, and major milestones and anniversaries to watch in 2023.
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Culture, heritage, and museums
Manchester Museum: expanded museum reopens with Golden Mummies of Egypt
After a three-year closure, the much-loved Manchester Museum has reopened following a £15 million transformation adding a two-storey extension, new exhibition hall, South Asia Gallery, and Chinese Culture Gallery. Its opening exhibition, Golden Mummies of Egypt, is a UK premiere of Manchester Museum’s first international touring exhibition – following a successful tour of the USA and China.
Science and Industry Museum: music exhibition and refurbishment projects
Site of the world’s first passenger railway, the Science and Industry Museum is full of fascinating machinery telling the story of Manchester’s industrial heritage. A new exhibition Operation Ouch! has its world premiere in July bringing the hit CBBC series to life; and from May a new display Stephen Hawking at Work explores the life of the celebrated physician. The current exhibition Turn it Up: The Power of Music continues until May 2023, whilst further site developments are set to complete in 2024 to revamp gallery spaces.
Factory International: highly anticipated Northern cultural powerhouse opens
Opening in June 2023
A major new cultural space for Manchester, Factory International will open in the heart of the city in June 2023. The new venue, designed by Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), will be home to the biennial Manchester International Festival, and will feature an opening exhibition from Yayoi Kusama titled You, Me and the Balloons, featuring spectacular inflatable sculptures. Its standalone premiere production will open in October 2023 with Free Your Mind, an immersive performance based on The Matrix films and directed by Danny Boyle.
Wigan Pier: icon of the industrial North brought back to life
Opening in 2024
Wigan Pier – made famous by George Orwell’s 1937 book, The Road to Wigan Pier, will be given a new lease of life this year. After several years of work, the long-vacant 18th Century industrial buildings of the icon pier will be transformed into a new waterside destination that includes a gin-distillery, micro-brewery, food hall, events venue, and cultural hub.
Manchester Town Hall: Victorian heart of Manchester reopens following six-year transformation
Opening in 2024
Closed since 2018, Manchester’s impressive 19th century Town Hall will finally reopen to the public in 2024 following an extensive renovation project to protect it for future generations. One of the most significant heritage projects in the UK, the Our Town Hall project will open with a new exhibition telling the story of the iconic building, whilst giving visitors access to previously unseen areas, including the Victorian police cells, courtyard, and clocktower on new guided tours.
Music and entertainment
New Century: iconic music venue reopens with music and food offering
New Century, a legendary music venue whose past performers include Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, has been reborn. Opened in September 2022 in the NOMA area of the city, the 800-capacity venue comes complete with a sprung dance floor and 60’s style “disco ceiling” alongside an all-new food and drinks space with six vendors, including a butty shop concept from renowned local chef Adam Reid, bao’s from Baobros23, Wild by Ply pizza, Zumuku Sushi, and Tallow steaks and burgers.
AO Arena: UK’s largest indoor venue set to expand
Now open with developments completing in Autumn 2023
The UK’s biggest arena is set to become even bigger in 2023, thanks to a new £50m reconstruction project that will raise the 21,000-person capacity to 22,900. AO Arena will create brand-new entrances, premium experiences, custom designed lounges, and premium seating. Plus, the venue’s production areas will be dramatically upgraded with a complete overhaul of the backstage experience for artists, production, and crew.
Co-op Live: UK’s greenest new live music venue to open
Opening in December 2023
With construction well underway adjacent to Manchester’s Etihad Stadium, Co-op Live is preparing to open its doors to 23,500 fans in late 2023. The venue will feature an impressive 32 bars, restaurants, and lounges, including recently announced The Bentley Record Room, a luxurious lounge next to the performer’s Green Room. With a music-first focus, Co-op Live will host over 120 major live events in its first year, and will feature an innovative ‘smart bowl’, bringing fans closer to the music and built specifically with acoustics in mind.
Therme Manchester: plans progress for first UK city-based wellness resort
Due to open in 2025
Work has started on a new £250m wellness resort, which is set to be the first of its kind in the UK. Spanning 28-acres opposite shopping mall The Trafford Centre, Therme Manchester is set to offer over 25 pools, a 10,000 sqm wellbeing garden, urban farms and beehives, as well as dedicated family and adult-only sections. As part of wider developments in the area, Modern Surf, a £60m outdoor surfing pool will also open next door.
Green space and gardens
RHS Garden Bridgewater: new developments at Europe’s biggest gardening project
Two years after opening, Salford’s RHS Garden Bridgewater will add two new garden highlights in 2023 with the opening of a Blue Peter Garden in April, followed by a new Music Pavilion in the Summer in the Chinese Streamside Garden, which will complete with an exhibit on horticulture and its links to China. Longer-term plans include the planting of a 12.5-acre arboretum and phase two of wider site growth.
Castlefield Viaduct: derelict train line transformed into urban park
The National Trust has taken the first 330m of a long-abandoned Grade II-listed railway bridge to create Castlefield Viaduct, a new urban park reminiscent of New York’s The High Line. After years of locals calling out for the space to be transformed, the attraction opened the first phase of a public consultation which could see it extended to up to 1km. The park features planting that reflects Manchester’s industrial heritage and will change throughout the seasons.
GM Ringway: 300km circular walking trail takes in dramatic views
Broken down into 20 stages, and covering a 300-km route, the GM Ringway is a new walking trail starting in the city centre, taking in all ten boroughs of the Greater Manchester region. Visitors will be able to join any one of the twenty stages by public transport, with traffic-free routes. Ramblers will pass more than 40 Grade II and II*-listed buildings, and 14 scheduled ancient monuments, whilst taking in stunning views of the Peak District and the valleys of the South and West Pennines.
Northern Roots: ambitious urban farm project moves forward
Now open with developments completing in Summer 2023
Plans for the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park have progressed at Northern Roots, a 160-acre site in Oldham, 30-minutes outside of Manchester City Centre. The green space is already open for exploration, planting and exploring one of the 12 bee hives, with wider plans for Summer 2023 to add a new visitor centre with shop and café, a learning space, swimming pond, natural amphitheatre and a large market garden.
Mayfield Park: first new city-centre park in 100 years
Mayfield Park is a newly created 6.5-acre park adjacent to Piccadilly Station. Complete with 142 trees, 120,000 plants, and a children’s play zone with six slides, Mayfield Park is woven around the historic River Medlock, which is now teeming with biodiversity following an extensive clean-up effort. Open from Dawn until Dusk, visitors to the park will also benefit from neighbouring food venue Escape to Freight Island, with further cafes, restaurants, homes and businesses set to be constructed around the park in the coming years.
Food and Drink
Stock Market Grill: British seasonal food in a former Stock Exchange building
Opened in March 2023
Set inside the impressive Stock Exchange Hotel, owned by former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, Stock Market Grill is a new restaurant opened by the brother’s behind Schofield’s Bar, named 59th Best Bar in the World. Formerly the Bull & Bear by Tom Kerridge, Stock Market Grill’s revamp offers British seasonal food served in a historic dining room.
Higher Ground: pop-up opens permanent restaurant
Opened in February 2023
From the team behind the much-loved Flawd wine bar, Higher Ground finally get their own permanent site, following a successful pop-up at The Bungalow in the Kampus neighbourhood in 2020. The British bistro-style restaurant aims to use seasonal produce from its own farm, down on food waste, and use ethical butchers.
Great North Pie Co: award-winning pie experts open at Kampus
Opened February 2023
Starting life as a homemade pie stall, Great North Pie Co. finally has its own restaurant space to serve up its signature deep-filled pies alongside Track and Manchester Union lager on tap. Based at Kampus, the restaurant joins a growing foodie destination which includes Pollen Bakery, The Beeswing wine bar, and Nell’s New York Pizza, and will soon be joined by local brewing legends Cloudwater, a new indy-style Kampus General Store, and Madre’s famed tacos and tequila.
Climat: rooftop restaurant with wine-focus opens
Opened in December 2022
Taking up the eighth floor of 1920’s Blackfriars House just off Deansgate, Climat has opened its rooftop restaurant complete with outdoor terrace featuring sweeping 360-degree views of Manchester. The 100-cover restaurant offers over 250 wines from around the world, with a changing daily menu and a ‘Parisian-style’ aesthetic. Diners can expect small plates described simply as ‘food you want to eat’.
Exhibition: trio of kitchens open at former museum site
Opened in November 2022
Offering three independent kitchens, two bars, and a dedicated space for local artists, Exhibition opened at the site of Grade II listed St George’s House, which was once home to the Natural History Museum back in 1909, food is served by Michelin Guide rated OSMA and fire-enthusiasts Baratxuri, and offers a 400-capacity venue with nightly DJs and entertainment.
Escape to Freight Island: indoor/outdoor venue revamped for 2023
Re-opened in April 2023
A success story of the pandemic that started as an outdoor food venue, Escape to Freight Island has grown in recent years to take over the former Mayfield railway station with an offering of nightly entertainment and a selection of kitchens both indoors and out. A new outdoor cinema was recently opened on the old train platforms, and further revamps to the
Red Light: LGBTQ+ cocktail bar to open at Kampus
Opening in May 2023
Adjacent to Manchester’s famous LGBTQ+ Canal Street, comes the opening of Red Light, a new cocktail bar set inside a Victorian warehouse, which is part of the newly developed Kampus neighbourhood, which is fast becoming a food and drink destination in its own right. Opening on 3 May, Red Light will offer exposed brick cosy corners and original warehouse features and a selection of signature cocktails.
Lucky Cat: Gordon Ramsay brings Tokyo-inspired restaurant to Manchester
Opening in Spring 2023
Setting up shop in a Grade II listed former bank in the King Street district of the city, Gordon Ramsay will bring his fine-dining Lucky Cat restaurant to the city. Inspired by drinking dens of 1930s Tokyo, the Manchester-branch of the Mayfair restaurant will span over three floors, including the impressive former bank vaults.
DieCast: metals factory converts to 5,000 capacity food and entertainment destination
Opening in Summer 2023
Taking over Manchester’s largest factory and metalworks, DieCast is set to open in phases from Summer with a 5,000-capacity venue. Stage one will see an outside space open with Manchester’s biggest beer garden, open air BBQ kitchen and pizzeria. When fully complete, DieCast will be home to a Night Market, brewing company, warehouse restaurant, and large-scale festival stage.
Central Bay: waterfront transformation to open foodie destination at MediaCity
Opening in Summer 2023
Opening within Salford’s MediaCity complex, Central Bay plans for a £3.5m transformation of the waterfront area to open 13 food-hall style kitchens, four independent restaurants, and space for pop-up events, independent markets and live performances, whilst being within easy reach of attractions including IWM North, The Lowry, and Coronation Street tours.
Shipyard: European inspired food hall set for emerging St. John’s neighbourhood
Late 2023/early 2024
Adding to the city’s blossoming food and drink scene, Shipyard is set to open its doors in the emerging St. John’s neighbourhood. Taking inspiration from some of the great European food halls such as Lisbon’s TimeOut Market and the Kyiv Food Market, Shipyard will occupy a 30,000 sq ft space adjacent to soon-to-open arts venue, Factory International. Shipyard will be set across three floors, with a terrace, private dining and events stage, whilst food will offer artisan vendors and rolling smaller stalls creating an eclectic and well-curated foodie destination.
Residence Inn: Marriott’s first northern long stay property opens in Ancoats
Opening in May 2023
Marriott International’s first extended stay property in the North of England, Residence Inn, is set to open in Ancoats this May. It will offer 155 studios and 1-bedroom apartments over 12 floors for city breaks and long stays. It features an on-site gym, self-service communal laundry, a coffee shop with a grab-and-go counter, and a bespoke grocery delivery service. The hotel also features an open-air centre with an outdoor seating area.
Forty Seven: new luxury 5-star boutique to open on Peter Street
Opening in Spring 2023
Set to be one of Manchester’s most luxurious new hotels, Forty Seven will open with 32 one and two-bedroom suites in a Grade-II listed building on vibrant Peter Street. Restaurant Asha’s, run by Bollywood legend Asha Bhosle, has now reopened at its original location within the hotel to serve guests, and a new bar at The Peterman will offer drinks.
Treehouse Hotel Manchester: new northern location for the playful hotel brand
Opening in Summer 2023
The 224-bedroom Treehouse Hotel Manchester will open as the brand’s second UK location, with a £200m redevelopment of a former hotel on Deansgate. Offering panoramic views from its rooftop terrace, and colourfully designed pet-friendly rooms, Treehouse have announced a line-up of food and drinks offers from celebrated Manchester chef’s including restaurateurs Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford of The Refuge fame, Mary-Ellen McTague from Chorlton’s The Creameries, and Sam Grainger behind revered Madre.
Malmaison Manchester Deansgate: second property opens with views of Albert Square
Opening in Summer 2023
Their second property in Manchester, Malmaison Manchester Deansgate will open just off the city’s mile-long thoroughfare of shops and bars. Offering views out across the iconic Albert Square and Manchester Town Hall, 70 guest rooms will pay homage to retro 60s and 70s design, and the brand’s famous Chez Mal Brasserie will serve food, alongside SORA, a rooftop bar with panoramic views.
The Reach at Piccadilly: Marriott to open upscale property
Opening in September 2023
Part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio of hotels, The Reach at Piccadilly will open as a new 215-bedroom upscale hotel just 90 seconds walk from Manchester Piccadilly train station. Taking over a former aparthotel, rooms will feature a natural design with materials inspired by the surrounding Pennines like wool, cotton and timber, whilst all-day dining will use locally sourced produce, speciality small plates, and beer from local brewers.
Mollie’s: Soho House-inspired hotel to open at iconic former TV studios
Opening in Autumn 2023
From the team behind Soho House, Mollie’s Manchester will take over the historic site of the former Granada Studios in St John’s neighbourhood – once home to TV soap Coronation Street. Opening in September 2023 with 140 rooms, the hotel will feature a 164-cover diner restaurant, a lounge bar with live music, plus an outdoor heated terrace with outdoor pool.
Neighbourhoods to watch
Red Bank and Green Quarter
North of Victoria Station in Manchester City Centre, the Red Bank and adjacent Green Quarter areas are on the cusp of an emerging neighbourhood with a whole host of recent openings and further developments set to come. Following the completion of new apartments around historic Angel Meadows Park, the latest independent, Foundation Coffee House, has announced its opening in the area, which joins recent newbie Green Arches brewery and bar, which takes up residence under one of several railway arches, next to The Spärrows, an unassuming Alpine spätzle restaurant that has driven critics wild. Street food stalwarts GRUB made the Green Quarter their home a few years ago, taking its popular festival-style dining to a permanent location, including its much-loved Plant Powered Sundays. A short walk up Cheetham Hill to the newly refurbished Manchester Jewish Museum, you can stop into The Derby Brewery Arms, a traditional pub which has found new fame as a queer hangout spot, or drop by Unagi, another new eatery serving up sushi from shipping containers. For those who love to dance, Love Factory, a new large-scale events space that hosts discos and raves has opened, and nearby Partisan hosts regular DJ and dance nights.
Just ten-minutes outside of Manchester by train, the town of Stockport has seen its star rise over the last few years, which has led to a growth in independent restaurants, bars, and shops coming to the town. With attractions in its own right, including the quirky Hat Works Museum, 15th Century Staircase House, and Stockport Air Raid Shelters, the town is steeped in history, as well as cobbled streets and old architecture. A growing food and drink scene, which is headlined by the small but popular Where the Light Gets In, known for its seasonal, local, no-menu approach to cooking, joins other stops in the town’s line-up including The Produce Hall with a number of food hall style vendors set inside a 160-year old market building, Ate Days a Week which has gained a cult reputation for its pun-filled menu and pies; and Foodie Friday, which offers a weekly pop-up of traders in Stockport’s Old Town. Recent announcements include Bohemian Arts Club, a new cocktail bar led by Blossom’s singer Tom Ogden. Shoppers will also be delighted by the array of little shops, including Stockport Market, offering indoor and outdoor wares; independent and vintage items from 20th Century Stores, and Rare Mags, where you can find all kinds of titles, books and zines.
170 years after being named a city in 1853, Manchester will mark milestones in 2023 with some key anniversaries in its history. This year marks 100 years since Manchester City FC started playing at the Maine Road stadium, moving some decades later to its current site at the Etihad Stadium, where it is marking 20 years from their first game on new turf. Manchester Art Gallery celebrates a significant milestone, with 2023 marking 200 years since the founding of the Royal Manchester Institution in 1823, through which the gallery’s earliest origins can be traced. Jumping back to 1948, Manchester takes claim for the creation of the world’s first computer 75 years ago, with ‘The Manchester Baby’ which was created by a team at the University of Manchester and is now on display at the Science and Industry Museum – which coincidentally, celebrates its 40th Anniversary as a museum, opening in 1983. In music heritage, the Royal Northern College of Music marks 50 years since its inception, and just ten years later in 1983, iconic Manchester bands The Stone Roses, and Inspiral Carpets, officially formed.
The Manchester Flower Festival (26-29 May)
Manchester city centre blooms with plant life over the late May Bank Holiday Weekend, with The Manchester Flower Show popping up with displays, live entertainment, flower, art and craft stalls, plus 10 professionally designed flower displays themed around ‘Manchester in Flowers’ will be on display. There will be colour all over the city as shops, doorways and hidden spots put on their best displays, at one of the city’s most popular events, which last year attracted 70,000 people to Manchester.
We Invented the Weekend (3-4 June)
In 1843, Greater Manchester invented the weekend when the Early Closing Association lobbied for workers to have leisure time on Saturday afternoons. 180 years later, Salford is celebrating this milestone with an ambitious new cultural festival at MediaCity and Salford Quays, with 200 free events, 85 artists, and 150,000 visitors set to visit the city over one June weekend.
Manchester International Festival – MIF23 (29 June – 16 July)
Following a successful festival in 2021, MIF returns to the city this Summer, making its debut at brand-new venue Factory International, which will become its permanent home. Programming for MIF23 is yet to be released, but you can expect international artists alongside its popular Festival Square dining and entertainment hub.
Manchester Pride (25-28 August)
Held every August Bank Holiday Weekend, Manchester Pride is a four-day celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, drawing people from across the UK as one of the biggest events in the North. Events take place in and around the Gay Village, including the famous Parade, Youth Pride, Superbia culture festival, finishing with the poignant Candlelit Vigil.
Manchester Christmas Markets (November & December)
As one of the most Instagrammed Christmas Markets in the UK, Manchester’s yearly festivities will get underway in November with traditional Bavarian-style markets offering food, drink, a variety of stalls, and events taking place throughout the season until the end of December. Official dates will be announced soon.
Major developments beyond Greater Manchester
Jodrell Bank: new experiences and storytelling for UNESCO attraction
The First Light Pavilion is a new £21 million addition to the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the iconic Lovell Telescope located approximately 20 miles south of Greater Manchester. The First Light Pavilion opened in May 2022 as a new gallery dedicated to telling the story of Jodrell Bank, with an immersive projection space and auditorium, and a new education hub and café.
Liverpool Biennial: 25th anniversary of arts festival
June – September 2023
The UK’s largest contemporary visual arts festival, Liverpool Biennial, will return from 10 June to 17 September 2023, marking 25 years since the festival began. Public spaces, art galleries and historic sites across Liverpool will be taken over with more than 50 artists from 30 countries exhibiting works on the theme of ‘The Sacred Return of Lost Things’, exploring the history and temperament of Liverpool and ancestral and indigenous forms of knowledge.
Eden Project North: major eco-site to come to Morecambe, Lancashire
Opening in 2024
From the team behind the much-revered Eden Project in Cornwall, Eden Project North is a major new eco project set on the sea front of Morecambe, around an hour from Manchester. Plans include a Natural Observatory, theatrical experiences, and Eden Project’s famous biomes, full of natural planting to tell the stories of the natural environment of the area.
PEAK: major new activities resort planned in Peak District
Opening in 2025
A major new development on 300 acres of reclaimed land in Chesterfield, about an hour from Manchester, is set to be developed into PEAK, a 2,000-bed hotel, with 250 holiday lodges. Thirty years in the making, this new £120m scheme will feature indoor activities, a wellness centre, and will be connected by the creation of the PEAK express, a zero-carbon transport network.