If you’ve never been to the Northern capital of England, you may be wondering “what is Manchester known for?” It’s the one of the most populated city in the country and has a rich and diverse history.
There are many cultures and traditions that local people are fiercely proud of. When you visit, you’ll find many fascinating historical landmarks to explore. It’s the perfect choice for your next city break.
What Is Manchester Famous For?
Manchester is famous for being the birthplace of the industrial revolution. In the late 18th century, this city was at the forefront of the textile industry. Manchester is also known for being one of the first cities to have a canal system for transporting goods around. When you think of Manchester, the first things that spring to mind include the lively music scene, thriving manufacturing industries, and passion for football.
Today, you can see remnants of the cities’ past and the evolution of the present when you visit places like The National Football Museum and Granada Studios. However, there’s so much more to this interesting and exciting city.
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So, what is Manchester known for that you might not realize? Here are 20 things that Manchester is famous for.
Cultural Things And People Manchester Is Famous For
Manchester United And Manchester City
The professional football league started in Manchester. Rivals Manchester United and Manchester City are both based in the city, at Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium, respectively. These two stadiums are an iconic part of the city’s skyline and some of its best-loved landmarks.
Manchester United is the most popular football club in the world, and its stadium tour attracts thousands of fans annually. Book your visit to take a guided tour through the stands and players’ tunnel before admiring the extensive trophy collection in the museum.
The Manchester Derby draws a lot of attention every season as the passionate teams face off against each other in heated competition. Many travelers come to Manchester to visit the stadiums and trace the history of the champions.
Britpop was an alternative rock musical movement spanning the 1990s in the UK. The sound was influenced by British popular music, glam rock, and punk rock. At the heart of it was Manchester, which produced some of the biggest bands, including Oasis, The Verve, and The Stone Roses.
The most notable features of Britpop music were singers with regional British accents and working-class identity politics. More than just music, it became a culture encompassing fashion, art, and politics.
Although Britpop bands were hugely successful and attracted millions of fans, the movement was short-lived and had largely died out by the end of the 1990s.
A city full of creatives and performers, Manchester has long had a thriving theatre scene. The Theatre Royal was the first to open in 1775 and attracted many aspiring actors to perform in its plays.
The industry remained popular – there are now more than ten theatres in the city center, including the Palace Theatre, Manchester Opera House, and the Royal Exchange Theatre.
Whether you fancy a musical, a concert, or a comedy gig, you’ll never run out of shows to enjoy in this city
One of the fun facts about Manchester to know is that it is the birthplace and breeding ground of countless celebrities. This city has a strong work ethic and hustle culture, which may explain why so many of its citizens achieve success.
One such person is the world-famous film director and producer Danny Boyle. He was born in 1956 in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester. Boyle initially aspired to become a priest before having a change of heart and studying drama.
Some of his best-known films include Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, and 127 Hours. His accolades include multiple Academy Awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes.
Traditions And History Manchester Is Famous For
The Industrial Revolution And Manufacturing Cotton
One of the most important things Manchester is known for is leading the Industrial Revolution. At the beginning of the 19th Century, it became the first industrialized city in the world. Manchester’s main export was textiles because of its many cotton mills and production factories.
The city became wealthy from its cotton industry and began manufacturing a wide range of goods. By the 20th Century, it had grown from a simple market town into one of the UK’s most thriving and densely populated cities.
In December 1940, Manchester was bombed during the WWII Blitz. Across two nights of air raids, 684 people were killed and thousands more were injured. The city was a target because of its war efforts, such as manufacturing the Manchester and Lancaster Bomber planes.
Vast areas of the city were destroyed by explosives and fires, including Manchester Cathedral and the Royal Exchange theatre. Both train stations and the two main roads into the city were damaged, disrupting water and electricity supplies.
One of the biggest traditions in Manchester’s calendar is Parklife festival. It started in 2010 and is held every year in Heaton Park. The festival runs for two days, attracting over 80,000 people each day.
The line-up predominantly features dance music and alternative artists. Previous headliners have been The Chemical Brothers, Liam Gallagher, and The 1975 – who are all from Manchester.
Manchester Christmas Markets
One of the best yearly traditions in Manchester is the Christmas Market, which sprawls around various parts of the city center.
It generally runs from mid-November until the week before Christmas Day. The event attracts thousands of tourists each year and international traders.
Hundreds of market stalls sell handmade crafts, gifts, and Christmas decorations. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the incredible array of street food vendors. No visit is complete without a cup of mulled wine or a cozy hot chocolate.
If you visit in June, Manchester Day is one of the best free events in the city, organized by Manchester City Council every year. It’s a celebration of the history, culture, and people of Manchester. It’s one of the most joyful days of the year for Mancunians.
The heart of the day is the parade through the city center. Special events and family-friendly activities are staged across the city, as well as an abundance of market stalls and street food.
Landmarks And Architecture Manchester Is Famous For
These are a few of the areas that Manchester is known for. Check out a larger list of famous landmarks in Manchester here if you want to explore the city further.
City Center Canal
A feature of the city center that Manchester is famous for is its extensive canal network. The 58km long Manchester Ship Canal connects the city to the Irish sea and was central to transporting goods during the Industrial Revolution.
A notable landmark on the canal is the Victorian Barton Swing Aqueduct – the only swing aqueduct in the world. It allows ships to pass underneath while narrow boats pass over the top.
Since the 1980s, the Manchester Docks have undergone a regeneration project to become Salford Quays. The area is now home to some landmarks that Manchester is famous for, including the Lowry Gallery, MediaCity, and Old Trafford stadium.
The city canal cruise is a popular and relaxing way to soak in the sights around the area.
The Mamucium Roman Fort
The Mamucium Fort was built was the Romans in 79AD and is the earliest recorded settlement in what is now Manchester city. It aimed to guard the main roads leading to other Roman forts in York and Chester.
The fort was abandoned by 410AD, and a civilian settlement grew on the grounds. Most of the remains were destroyed during the Industrial Revolution. Much of the city was demolished to make way for new factories.
In the 1980s work began to recreate the fort in its original location in Castlefield. The Mamucium Reconstruction is now open to the public, and admission is free. It’s well worth a visit to see the impressive rampart and Northern Gateway.
The bustling Chinatown area is the city’s most recognizable location, with innovative architecture, vibrant colors, and mouth-watering smells. It’s the second largest in the UK, behind London’s China Town, and the third largest in Europe, after Paris.
China Town’s most iconic landmark is the beautiful Paifang archway on Faulkner Street – built in China and presented as a gift to the local community by Manchester City Council.
In this area, you’ll find a plethora of Chinese and Asian supermarkets, restaurants, takeaways, shops, and the Chinese Arts Centre. Ping Hong was the first restaurant to open in 1948 and the vicinity has grown exponentially since then.
The annual Chinese New Year celebrations are unmissable, with street parties and parades led by traditional dancing dragon performers.
The Corn Exchange
The Corn Exchange is one of the grandest buildings in Manchester, an ornate Grade II listed Edwardian creation built in traditional red brick. It has an interesting and varied history of different usage.
Construction of the Corn and Produce Exchange, as it was known, took place between 1897 and 1903. It was established as an industrial trading location – thousands of people would meet to trade goods and produce here until its decline during WWII.
After this, it was reinvented as an indoor market for independent stallholders selling everything you could imagine. In 1996, it was bombed by the IRA and later redeveloped as a shopping center.
Since 2015, the Corn Exchange has been home to a vast selection of incredible food outlets, restaurants, a hotel, and an escape room game.
If architecture is your thing, you will be keen to know that Manchester is home to 40+ grade one listed buildings and the town hall is one of them.
Attractions Manchester Is Famous For
SEA LIFE Manchester
You’ll find SEA LIFE in the heart of the city center, conveniently located next to the Trafford Centre. It’s popular with young families but is worth a visit even if you don’t have children.
Here, you’ll be able to see a fantastic range of sea creatures up close, including sharks, turtles, sting rays, and Japanese spider crabs. One of the most exciting areas is the Ocean Tunnel. It’s fully submerged underwater so you can admire the creatures from every angle as they swim directly above you.
You’ll also enjoy interactive events, including meet and greets with mermaids and Peppa Pig! For big fans of the aquarium, it’s worth buying an annual pass to enjoy unlimited visits.
Coronation Street: The Tour
The world’s longest-running TV soap opera, Coronation Street, is filmed in Manchester at MediaCity.
Although the ITV show has broadcast since 1960, the entire set was recreated in 2013 when it moved to Trafford Wharf Studios. The bigger location enabled the set to be extended to include a Costa Coffee, a tram station, and a police station.
Since 2014, fans have been able to book guided tours of the set to look inside the Rovers Return Pub and the cast dressing rooms.
National Football Museum
The National Football Museum moved from Preston to Manchester city center in 2012. It’s based in the Urbis building, which is fully glazed and adds an interesting architectural slope to the cityscape.
Over half a million tourists visit the museum every year. It regularly opens new interactive exhibits, so there’s always something interesting to explore. It’s currently displaying a collection of over 140,000 items, including boots, programs, and footballs.
The museum is open to tourists every day. Admission is free to Manchester residents with ID, but a small entry fee is payable for other visitors.
The Science And Industry Museum
On Liverpool Road in the heart of the city is the fascinating Science and Industry Museum. This museum is home to a range of permanent and pop-up galleries, exhibits, sensory displays, and interactive events.
Some of the best permanent galleries are Revolution Manchester and the Textiles Gallery, paying tribute to the city’s powerful and innovative history as a cotton manufacturing giant.
You’ll learn exciting new things every time you visit this ever-changing attraction. There’s also an excellent café and a gift shop. It’s one of the city’s most popular attractions so be sure to book your free ticket in advance to avoid disappointment.
The Imperial War Museum North
One of the best things about being a tourist in Manchester is that many of its museums are free to enter, so you can hop between them all without missing out on anything. The Imperial War Museum North sits at Salford Quays, overlooking the canals.
This fascinating and moving museum tells the true stories of people who lived through various wars and life-changing historical events, such as the 9/11 terror attacks. Some of its best-loved exhibits are the moving poppies installation and the engaging Big Picture Show.
For superfans of the museum, it stars in a fascinating Channel 5 documentary series, “Secrets of the Imperial War Museum”, which is available to watch online.
Food Manchester Is Famous For
As the name suggests, Eccles cake originates in the Greater Manchester town of Eccles. If you haven’t tried it before, it’s a small, sweet, flaky pastry made from butter, filled with currants, and sprinkled with demerara sugar.
There’s much debate over whether this local delicacy is a true cake as it doesn’t fit the modern definition. It’s also sometimes known by the less appealing name “squashed fly pie”. Either way, it’s delicious!
Eccles cakes date to 1793, when James Birch began selling them from his corner shop in the town center. It’s not known who invented this tasty creation but there are many similar variations, including Chorley cake, Banbury cake, and Blackburn cake.
Traditional Manchester Tart is baked with shortcrust pastry. It’s then covered with a layer of raspberry jam and filled with custard, before being sprinkled with coconut flakes and topped with a maraschino cherry.
This pudding was hugely popular after the war and was a common feature of school dinners. It’s less common now across the UK, but plenty of restaurants in Manchester still serve this delightful dessert. For an authentic homemade version, you must try the award-winning Manchester Tart Company.
Discovering More Things Manchester Is Known And Famous For
These are just a few of the interesting things that Manchester is famous for. Of course, there are so many more things that Manchester is famous for and the best way to discover them for yourself is to book a trip to the city. There’s so much to see and plenty of activities to entertain the whole family all year round.
If you’re staying for a longer visit, you’ll be well-placed to explore more of the North of England. From Manchester, take a day trip to the Peak District, the Lake District, or the Yorkshire Dales National Park – all within a 90-minute drive.