Manchester City Guide: experience live events like a Mancunian
From catching a Premier League football game to concerts to comedy, pull up your socks and get ready to explore all Manchester has to offer.
Manchester is the United Kingdom’s second-largest urban area, with around 2.8 million people. Her Majesty should consider renaming the city ‘Fanchester’ because there are so many events happening there.
It is the UK’s best city for live music, with 87 gigs per 100,000 people. Not sure where to start? Worry not — we’ve put together this list so you can get the best tickets to the biggest events in Manchester.
What’s happening in Manchester in 2019
- Sports: ICC Cricket World Cup, Betfred Super League Grand Final, World’s Strongest Man Tour Finals, The Ashes 2019
- Concerts: Little Mix, Elton John, Westlife
- Festivals: Parklife Music Festival, Bluedot Festival, Sounds of the City
- Theatre and Comedy: Eddie Izzard, Romesh Ranganathan, Nick Offerman
Things to know about Manchester
Manchester is Northern England’s entertainment capital, attracting over 1.3 million overseas visitors annually with its cultural cocktail of bars and restaurants, concerts and comedy shows, LGBT events centred around its Canal Street gay village and leading sports teams like the Manchester United and Manchester City football clubs. The world’s longest-running soap opera, Coronation Street, is also famously filmed in the city and attracts fans from around the globe.
While Corrie may feel like it’s been on the telly forever, Manchester’s history actually stretches much further back — having been founded in AD 79. By the 1600s, the city was producing a huge amount of cotton, earning it the nicknames ‘Cottonopolis’ and ‘Warehouse City’. During the Industrial Revolution, this helped it become a textiles hub and grow into a bustling urban centre complete with newly constructed canals and factories.
By 1900, Manchester was the ninth-biggest city in the world, though its textiles industry went into decline during the Great Depression. Fortunately, it began to re-invent itself through its academic, sports and cultural offerings.
In fact, Manchester is often referred to as the UK’s music capital, having launched innumerable bands including Joy Division, Take That, Oasis, The Smiths, New Order and many others. Its thriving live performance and clubbing scene in the Northern Quarter neighbourhood also created the ‘Madchester’ movement at legendary super-club The Haçienda in the late 1980s. Coming into the 21st Century, it is now producing a thriving new crop of UK grime artists and is home to more events than ever — musical or otherwise.
Large Manchester Annual Events
- Manchester International Festival
- Manchester Pride Big Weekend
- The Warehouse Project
- The Great Manchester Run and Manchester Great City Games
- Manchester Day
- Manchester Jazz Festival
- Parklife Music Festival
- Chinese New Year
- Manchester Food and Drink Festival
- Manchester Christmas Markets
Previous major events that have shaped Manchester include hosting the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which was the largest multi-sport event ever in the United Kingdom until the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The city has also hosted every major domestic, continental and international football competition including the World Cup in 1966, the European Championship in 1996, Olympic Football in 2012, the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final, the 2008 UEFA Cup Final, FA Cup Finals in 1893, 1911, 1915 and 1970, and the Football League Cup Final in 1977, 1978 and 1984. It also had two failed bids to host the Olympic Games towards the end of the 20th Century, losing to Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000.
What are the major venues in Manchester?
While Manchester may be the second-biggest city in the UK, it has the country’s largest indoor venue: Manchester Arena. Additionally, Mancunian fans have plenty of other outstanding choices for getting out, from major stadiums to sprawling theatres.
Manchester’s largest stadiums:
- Old Trafford, capacity: 75,731
- Etihad Stadium, capacity: 55,097
- Old Trafford Cricket Ground, capacity: 26,000
Manchester’s biggest indoor arenas and halls:
- Manchester Arena, capacity: 21,000
- Manchester Central, capacity: 12,500
- O2 Victoria Warehouse, capacity: 5,000
- O2 Apollo Manchester, capacity: 3,500
What are Manchester’s biggest sports teams?
Manchester is famously home to two Premiere League football clubs, Manchester City and Manchester United. The second is the most successful team in England, with 66 elite honours won including three European Cups. United plays at Old Trafford, while City plays at Etihad Stadium.
Cottonopolis also has its own cricket team, Lancashire County Cricket Club, that plays at Old Trafford Cricket Ground. The stadium will also host numerous games in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
There is also the Manchester Rugby Club, which is the city’s rugby union club and plays at Grove Park, as well as a transatlantic rugby league team, the Toronto Wolfpack, that competes in the Championship. Manchester is additionally home to a British Basketball League team, the Manchester Giants, and its own American football team, the Manchester Titans.
Who are the biggest artists that live in Manchester?
As mentioned earlier, Manchester has been the birthplace of numerous musical movements — from Madchester in the 1980s to grime and hip-hop today. Below are some of the singer-songwriters who are either from the city or call it home today.
Famous musicians from Manchester:
- Noel Gallagher
- Liam Gallagher
- Ian Brown of the Stone Roses
- Bugzy Malone
- Ariana Grande, made an honorary citizen in 2017
Where to catch a theatre show in Manchester
Central Manchester has one of the UK’s biggest theatre scenes outside of London’s West End, including historic venues like the Palace Theatre, the Manchester Opera House and the Royal Exchange, which is famed for its round 360-degree stage (the largest of its sort in the the country).
Most are located within walking distance to the city’s other main attractions including the Manchester Art Gallery, museums and the Central Retail District. Fancy dinner and a show? Swing by nearby Chinatown or one of the Northern Quarter’s famous pubs.
While Manchester may not have as many long-running productions as the London West End, it has hosted a number of huge touring shows and smaller independent plays. Earlier this year, Les Miserables returned for a six-week run at the Palace Theatre where the first-ever UK and Ireland tour opened on 14 April 1992. For a more indie, intimate flavour, head to the Hope Mill Theatre in the Ancoats neighbourhood; housed in a former cotton mill, it will be hosting Jerry Springer: The Opera later this summer.
Manchester’s biggest theatres:
- Palace Theatre, capacity: 1,955
- Manchester Opera House, capacity: 1,920
- The Lowry, capacity: 1,730
- Royal Exchange, capacity: 700